Washington D.C.’s mayor, Vincent C. Gray, and six city council members went to jail “to protest a federal budget deal that many residents believe shortchanged the District and reminded them again about how little real representation they have in Congress,” the Washington Post public editor Patrick Pexton reported.
But while a picture and caption of the mayor’s arrest was on the front page, the accompanying story was buried on page A11.
As a result, Pexton wrote that many readers complained.
Stories that did make the front page included: two on the federal budget, one Pakistan-CIA, one on Japan’s “long-term seismic instability” and one on “chocolate milk in schools.”
And, at least one reader was “initially confused” by the photo without context and assumed he had been “arrested for malfeasance.”
The Post’s managing editor, Liz Spayd, defended its decision to cover the arrest with the front page photo since she says “the essence of the news here was a photo op.”
Ultimately, Pexton opined that he’s with the readers in thinking the mayor’s arrest should have been front-page news. While the chocolate milk story may have been interesting and appealing, it wasn’t time-sensitive, in Pexton’s opinion.