Monday, April 06, 2009

That makes a dozen: the Washington Post fronts Facebook again

Monday's "The Profile Police" (sub-head: Campus Officers Cruise Facebook, MySpace for Clues To School-Related Crimes, to Some Students' Chagrin) is as much about MySpace as it is about Facebook, but I think there's enough Facebook in it that it counts: it's the 12th front page story in the Washington Post that significantly focuses on Facebook. The stories are:

Sept 2006, Oct 2006, Feb 2007, Nov 2007, March 2008, April 2008, May 2008, June 2008, July 2008, Sept 2008, March 2009, April 2009.

The new A1 piece, coming just 32 days after the last one, is the first Facebook article by Michael Birnbaum, who mostly covers schools in Northern Virginia. The article reports... exactly what'd you expect, because you've already heard about high school students who write too much on their pages and get caught.

You could go back to, say, USA Today in March 2006, the Boston Globe in May 2006, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in December 2006 or the Daily Herald of Illinois in January 2008. There have also been lots of pieces focusing on the issue at college campuses, such as this frequently-cited NYT item from January 2006.

I'm not saying that media outlets should ignore a story just because someone else beat them to it. When, for example, the Toledo Blade broke the story a few years ago of the war crimes committed by the Tiger Force in Vietnam, the majors should have reported the story as soon as possible, and prominently (most didn't). Or when Charlie Savage, then of the Boston Globe, essentially broke the story of Bush's signing statements, the majors should have reported it prominently to their readers/viewers/listeners (most didn't).

This is different. Here we have a story that is true and continues to be relevant, but is rather old news ("olds," as one of my former bosses would put it). The Post is right to catch up and report it, but not on A1.

I've written previously of my theory that Marchus Brauchli put a stop to the Post's Facebook obsession. When he started as the top editor in September, Facebook's reign on A1 -- a 2-year stretch with 8 articles -- came to an end. We had six Facebook-free months on the front page, but now we've been hit with two of these things. Unfortunately, my theory is dead.

Couldn't they at least switch to obsessively fronting Twitter, or something? Hmm, maybe in a year or two.


At 11:05 AM, Blogger Devon said...

I love your obession with this.


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