Washington Post Pattern: Good Economic News on D-1, Bad Economic News on A-1

In Sunday’s Washington Post, Stephen Pearlstein noticed in his "Sunday Briefing" (page F-2) that "The Economy Grabs the High Ground," as the headline said. He wrote: "Defying hurricanes and inflation, rising interest rates and political gridlock, the U.S. economy demonstrated its remarkable strength and stamina last week." Despite the drama implicit in that sentence, the Post’s editors buried the news inside the paper. Last Wednesday, as PostWatch noticed, Nell Henderson's story on growth, "Economy Grew Briskly In 3rd Quarter," was placed on D-1, the front page of the Business section. (On October 29, a Henderson report headlined "Hurricanes Didn't Stop Economy From Growing" was also on D-1.) A strong jobs report? "Growth in Jobs Overcame Slump in November" appeared on page D-1 on Saturday. Negative-sounding economic news appeared on page A-1: on Sunday, the front page carried the story that struggling car companies want help with benefits: "Automakers Are Lining Up Aid, But Just Don't Call It a Bailout." A peek at Nexis back to March 1 at the stories on economic indicators reported by Nell Henderson showed a continuing pattern of Henderson making A-1 or the A-section with bad news: – Energy Pushes Inflation to a 25-Year High, The Washington Post, October 16, 2005 Sunday, Final Edition, A Section; A11, 503 words, Nell Henderson, Washington Post Staff Writer– Inflation In Sept. Highest Since '80; Federal Benefits To Rise Up to 4.1%, The Washington Post, October 15, 2005 Saturday, Final Edition, A Section; A01, 1071 words, Nell Henderson, Washington Post Staff Writer– La. to Cut Jobless Benefits, Raise Taxes, The Washington Post, October 7, 2005 Friday, Final Edition, A Section; A08, 724 words, Nell Henderson, Washington Post Staff Writer – Katrina Contributes To Drop in Spending; Personal Income Also Fell in August, The Washington Post, October 1, 2005 Saturday, Final Edition, A Section; A01, 804 words, Nell Henderson, Washington Post Staff Writer– Greenspan Cites Economic Risks For Consumers; Warns Higher Long-Term Rates Could Reverse Housing, Stock Gains, The Washington Post, August 27, 2005 Saturday, Final Edition, A Section; A01, 977 words, Nell Henderson, Washington Post Staff WriterThis is the first positive A1 I found, scrolling backward in time, back to May:– U.S. Labor Picture Improved In April; Job Growth Suggests Stronger Economy, The Washington Post, May 7, 2005 Saturday, Final Edition, A Section; A01, 912 words, Nell Henderson, Washington Post Staff WriterThese were the last two Henderson A-1s in March: – Some Democrats Say Greenspan Has Gone From 'Maestro' to Partisan, The Washington Post, March 5, 2005 Saturday, Final Edition, A Section; A01, 1159 words, Dana Milbank and Nell Henderson, Washington Post Staff Writers– Greenspan Warns of Economic Stagnation; Future Social Security Benefit Cuts Urged, The Washington Post, March 3, 2005 Thursday, Final Edition, A Section; A01, 850 words, Nell Henderson, Washington Post Staff WriterNoel Sheppard noted that Nell Henderson was one of several national-newspaper reporters to predict dire straits for the U.S. economy due to Katrina back in September (although on D-1): “Hurricane Katrina, by forcing an exodus of workers and families from New Orleans and surrounding areas, appears likely to rank alongside Sept. 11, 2001, and the Arab oil embargo of 1973 as one of the nation's most serious and sudden economic shocks – particularly in terms of job losses – in recent memory.” They don't often put mangled predictions like this in the corrections box.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis