My reporter who wrote the story (cover headline, "Hey, Philly Republicans, he's coming for your cash"; inside headline, "Ryan expected to 'suck money out' of Philly") forwarded me some interesting emails the day after our coverage of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's Tuesday appearances in West Chester and Center City.
The writers of those emails presented at-times credible, at-times off-base arguments about specific ideas like headline-writing and broader topics like fair journalism and how to cover politics.
Their two common arguments were: A. Our headline on page 4 that used a partial quote about Ryan's prime reason for his first visit to Philadelphia (read: fundraising) was divisive and demeaning and B. We wouldn't have slanted an Obama visit the same way.
Take this email for example:
"Really? That is your angle? Fund raising? I don't remember your paper headlines when the democrats fund raise and they set the standard for both find (sic) raising and spending in 2006-2012. No headlines when the president, his wife or the VP did the same."
The reader/writer succinctly points out that there was no headline the last time a member of President Obama's entourage came to Philadelphia last. That happened Aug. 10 when First Lady Michelle Obama came to town and Metro didn't include any coverage in print. And as for the reader/writer's point about the angle of the story, there is no justification for simply announcing a politician's arrival in town. It needs an angle. Fundraising — turns out he got $50,000 a pop at the Union League Tuesday night — was the number.
As for those of you out there who still don't believe in the motto, "No publicity is bad publicity," here's another email that proves you wrong. Note how the reader/writer quixotically complains the supposed inherent unfairness in our front page coverage of Ryan's arrival and references it as a reason for her pledging to donate to the Romney/Ryan ticket. (Credit Metro when that Philly cash comes rolling in, boys.)
"Remind me, what did the Metro's coverage of Barack Obama's most recent fundraising visit to Philadelphia look like? Why would I be surprised to see that it was anything other than fawning and deferential? I object to your publications' unprofessional bias on this subject. Even (or perhaps especially) a free newspaper should maintain basic objective journalistic standards.
When this day began I had no idea I would be moved to make a donation to the Romney/Ryan campaign today, as I have never done so before and am not a registered Republican. My donation to the Romney campaign will be made in response to today's coverage in the Metro."
That is rare stuff: journalism that effects change.
Keep the emails coming. Thanks to anyone who takes the time to write us with non-hateful arguments. We're willing to admit when we missed the boat. This was a great chance to analyze some political coverage. We'll keep doing it leading up to an eventful November election.