|Map from Google Maps|
There is no Oak Street in Trinidad. There is an Oates Street. A simple glance at a map of the neighborhood proves that in less than a minute. Why can't our city's largest newspaper invest that time and effort when writing stories about DC?
Over the last couple days, I've complained to many friends and acquaintances that there has been very little coverage of the Ward 5 race in DC's influential newspapers and TV stations. All the oxygen has been sucked out of the room, so to speak, by the mayoral race, and to a much lesser extent, the council chairman's race.
Even the smaller newspapers have dedicated little to this important political scramble. Capital Community News used to publish a paper called DC North which covered news across Ward 5. In March of this year, they rebranded the paper MidCity DC, pulling back coverage of Ward 5 to the Bloomingdale neighborhood, no longer covering the rest of the ward.
The Washington Post published a story about the Ward 5 race on their website last night, and it's in the print version of today's Metro section. But they didn't take the time to do some basic geographic fact-checking. Ann E. Marimow wrote the story, with contributions from Nikita Stewart, but the two apparently didn't run the story by a fact-checking staff member to make sure they got the details right.
The story paints a picture of the incumbent, Harry Thomas Jr., by mentioning parts of the ward where he grew up. One of those places was his grandmother's house in Trinidad, which they claim was on "Oak Street." Click on the Trinidad map above—there is no Oak Street, there is an Oates Street. Sure, it's a little detail, but little details are the things we expect professional journalists to get right. Otherwise, us crazy bloggers might as well be your only source of news, with our supposed lack of fact-checking, lack of editors, and Cheeto-stained fingers.
It's not the first time the paper has expressed a lack of geographic knowledge about DC. Last month, I wrote about the Post's tendency to make broad generalizations regarding the city's quadrants. A lack of understanding regarding Northeast and Northwest, and how Ward 5 relates to the two, is on display in today's story as well.
Here's the article's first sentence:
Ask residents of the District's Northeast neighborhoods about city government, and many are quick to say that they feel neglected, that Ward 5 has too often been a dumping ground for stinky trash transfer stations and unseemly X-rated clubs.This makes it appear that Ward 5 and the Northeast quadrant of the city are co-extant. Northeast is much bigger than Ward 5 (it includes parts of wards 4, 6, and 7 as well) and Ward 5 isn't just in Northeast (Ward 5's Bloomingdale and Truxton Circle neighborhoods are both in Northwest).
These are simple things that could have been caught if run by someone familiar with the geography of the city. Find that person on your staff and make sure they get to weigh in on these things, Washington Post writers, because your natural advantage over us bloggers (a bigger audience and better news gathering infrastructure) doesn't mean much if you can't get your facts right.
-------------------------------------------------------------UPDATE: By mid-day, the Post acknowledged the error regarding Oates Street, and made a correction to the article.