Readers crave, criticize Salahi coverage
There seems to be an insatiable appetite for stories about Tareq and Michaele Salahi, but a growing number of Post readers say they’ve had their fill.
“These people wanted publicity, and that you have given them,” e-mailed Joe Goulden of the District. “Your coverage plays right into their hands -- akin to having an open bar at an AA meeting.”
“Did I miss any references to the Salahis in today’s Food section? What about the Classifieds?” wrote Bruce Kenworthy of Frederick. “It’s despairing to see these articles and photographs every day.”
Since controversy erupted a week ago over whether the aspiring reality-TV stars crashed a White House state dinner, The Post has run at least 14 stories and 20 photos. Five stories have been on the front page and six have been displayed on the front of the Style section. Many of those have featured on successive days on the Web site's homepage, along with Web-only chats and other features.
“After seeing the Salahis on the front page three days in a row over Thanksgiving weekend and again today, I decided to cancel my weekday subscription,” wrote Arlington County resident Ajay Rao, who said the saturation coverage eclipsed “more important news” such as the visit of Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, in whose honor the state dinner was held.
Has The Post gone overboard?
Not if online interest in the story is any gauge. Data shows that in the past week, nine of the 20 most-viewed articles on the Post's Web site were about the Salahis. They accounted for more than 3.5 million page views.
Today’s coverage turned from White House security lapses to claims that the socialite couple has failed to pay vendors and misrepresented sponsorship for a charity polo event they run. As of this afternoon, the story is atop the Web site's "Most Viewed" list.
“This is not just a story about a 'publicity-seeking' couple,” said Lynn Medford, the Style section editor overseeing the coverage. “Congress feels the incident is important enough to warrant a hearing. Our coverage involves whether the president of the United States is secure in the White House, whether the Secret Service and White House staff members are doing their jobs, whether reality television -- a major force in our culture for a decade -- has crossed a line.”
And, she added, The Post’s coverage has explored “whether we have two socialites who have left a trail of debts across the region, touching county and state governments as well as small business people. These are the questions driving our coverage, and most of our feedback has been supportive."
One measure of reader interest could be seen in today’s weekly online chat with Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, The Post’s “Reliable Source” columnists who broke the story. They were flooded with questions about the Salahis from around the country and as far away as the Netherlands.
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