Posts Tagged ‘wapo’

Hot Dog drama redux, plus WaPo stinks it up again.

Photo courtesy of Diva Eva

Tiff commented on the hot dog drama and WaPo’s article on the matter today, and since I’d spent some of my lunchtime clenching my teeth over this article – rather than my meal – I thought I’d follow up.

The article is a mess, and fails to accurately indicate what the controversy is over, beyond changes in regulations. Brittany comments in Tiff’s posting that she got some second hand information about zones and reserved spots for existing vendors, but if that’s part of what’s in the regulation change – and it well could be – there’s no indication of it in the WaPo article.

You would reasonably expect it to be there, though. After all, the article is titled “D.C. Food Vendors Fear War Of Hot Dogs vs. Hummus.” The article talks more about wholesaler WG Food Distributors, however, and covers the real issue while completely failing to spell it out or make it the focus of the article.

But the past two years have been especially intense, as WG and others face a city aspiring to boost its vending image and competitors eager to fight to become new kids on the block.

The crux of WG’s complaint has nothing to do with image and new entrants, however, since WG as a wholesaler could give less of a crap who they sell to. At the end of the article it’s revealed there’s only three depots left to choose from in D.C., so there’s little competition. As a provider of product for vendors to resell, they don’t care who those vendors are. They’ve got some interest in that material being standard manufactured food product rather than fresh made things like hummus, given what they provide, but that isn’t really the issue.

The issue is buried in paragraph ten, and has nothing to do with the content of the carts. What WG and the other depots are fighting to maintain is a government mandated process for the vendors to follow from which they reap a lot of money. Namely, the provision of the Department of Health rules that requires a vendor to identify a food depot where preparation, storage, and cleanup happen. A food depot that is often WG Food Distributors.

A food depot that, if you make it all the way to the last third of the article, you discover often demands that anyone using their storage facility make sizable purchases from them or face a rise in their storage rents. WG admits that there’s an “unwritten rule” that people buy from them, and defends it by saying that anyone who has to go it on their own could spend up to $900 a month on “a small storage facility with hot water and enclosures necessary to meet health standards.”

Little surprise, then, that WG and the other two depot are so interested in preventing any alteration in the health standards, and doing their best to spin this – to us and their customers – as a big guy vs little guy fight. Fair enough: it’s their livelihood and they can be expected to protect it. The real question is this: Why is WaPo helping them by so poorly examining the issue?

Chicago Style Hot Dog, courtesy of Diva Eva

Pot issues news flash: kettle black!


I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about my opinion of what some of my people like to call “old media.” The print edition of the Washington Post is my daily lunch companion and it bugs me when I’m forced to skip reading it. That said, sometimes I wonder at the perspectives of the people who work there.

Today’s a perfect example. In the business section there’s an article by Rob Pegoraro that could have been a good coverage of collaborative bookmarking sites like DIGG and REDDIT. If you’re not familiar with them then you’re likely also not my people. I’m not a fan or a user myself, but I’m aware of their existence and what they are. Rather than write an article about them and their relative strengths and advantages, however, Pegoraro’s article is titled “The News Is There, but You Might Have to Search for It” and opens with “Whatever the traditional definition of “news” might be, it can seem far from what fills the headlines at some of the Web’s more popular news sites. On a Tuesday in presidential primary season, here are some of their top stories:”

You know Rob, it’s funny you should mention that.

Today’s Post print edition has front page stories Results Refocus Democratic Campaign and National Dragnet Is a Click Away, Even in Victory, Clinton Team Is Battling Itself, Coloring Outside Curriculum Lines To Depict the Drop in Arts Education, Russia Pumps Tens of Millions Into Burnishing Image Abroad, and DHS Strains As Goals, Mandates Go Unmet.

If you want to read about how the FBI has broken the law by misusing national security letters and admitted it in front of Congress you’ll have to turn to page two. After all, it’s presidential primary season and there’s internal campaign matters to discuss. Surprisingly the Obama camp says they’re going to win and the Clinton camp says NUH-UH! Or you could look at the paper yesterday, which trumpeted headlines like Clinton Beats Obama in Texas and Ohio. A little less prominent – way down in the articles, in fact – was the fact that this beating in Ohio got Clinton 78 delegates and left Obama with only…. 69. Wow, stunning upset there, eh?

My point isn’t to beat up on the Post, though I have been unimpressed by their primary coverage, but to point out that when it comes to making you “search for” the news, they could give lessons. If you want to write about the collaborative sites you can talk about their underlying “wisdom of crowds” concept and the (well established) ways in which they subvert that concept by showing you what others though before getting your input. You could provide some guidance in how to get started looking at these sites, talk about, say, DIGG’s friends support that lets you see not only what the world in general is looking at but what people you know and/or trust are checking out, and what that might imply for how we consume media individually while finding and judging it collaboratively.

Or I guess you can just bitch about the splinter in their eye while ignoring the 2×4 in yours.

image courtesy of Wader

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