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Washington Post: “In no way does our coverage of this issue stereotype or vilify men generally.”

Contact the Washington Post and tell them the following:

  1. The Washington Post series on Maternal Homicide sensationalizes and distorts an important social problem.
  2. By failing to place the issue in proper context, the series serves to stereotype and malign men.
  3. Mr. Downie’s letter, which does not respond to any of the requested actions, insults the basic notion of media accountability.

Here’s the contact information:

  1. Leonard Downie : Telephone 1-202-334-7512 (please be nice to the polite lady who will answer your call)
  2. Michael Getler , Ombudsman:
    1. Telephone: 1-202-334-7582
    2. E-mail: ombudsman@washpost.com  
  3. Letters to the Editor:

The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20071


(Include your name, address, and daytime telephone number)

To help generate media interest in RADAR, please mention you are contacting the Post in response to a RADAR Alert.

Folks, it’s time to take action. Can we generate at least a thousand phone calls, e-mails, and letters this time?


Beginning December 19, the Washington Post ran a three-part, front-page series on Maternal Homicide.

The series has received intense criticism from persons representing the full gamut of political perspectives. These essays can be found on the RADAR website .

On December 24, the NCFM-DC sent a 5-page letter to Leonard Downie , Executive Editor of the Washington Post . You can read the letter here .

The letter detailed the journalistic problems with the Post’s Maternal Homicide series, and explained why the series did a disservice to the Washington Post readers. The letter concluded with three requests:

“1. Schedule an educational session for your reporters and editors, to be presented by one or more of our Chapter members, on the scope, nature, and trends of domestic violence, based on the findings of scientific research.

2. Research and run a three-part series that features domestic violence against men. The series should address the following topics: research findings, how male victims are often ignored by DV programs and services, and what male victims can do to protect themselves and get help.

3. In all future DV articles, the Washington Post should assure that your reporters and editors provide a balanced and fair perspective.”


On January 4, Mr. Downie responded. His letter, which can be read at the end of this message, did not respond to any of the requested actions. In fact, his letter denies any journalistic flaws with the series whatsoever.

Mr. Downie’s response is identical to how CBS News handled the Rathergate scandal: deny, dissemble, and stonewall.

Mr. Downie’s letter concludes, “In no way does our coverage of this issue stereotype or vilify men generally.”

Many would disagree with Mr. Downie’s conclusion. In fact, some would label it absurd.


1150 15 th Street, NW
Washington , DC 20071-5502
(202) 334-6000

Leonard Downie , Jr.
(202) 334-7512

January 4, 2005

NCFM – DC Chapter
PO Box 1404
Rockville , MD 20849


Dear Sir:

Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed letter of December 24 critiquing the series of articles that The Washington Post recently published about maternal homicide.

I understand the viewpoint that you are expressing, but this series of articles did not cover the entire subject of domestic violence. It was focused only on homicide cases involving pregnant women and women who had recently become mothers. It never stated that this phenomenon was widespread and did not generalize beyond the specific studies it covered and the research our own reporter did.

The stories made clear that, because the research done so far and the statistics kept by law enforcement agencies are fragmented on this subject, the cases presented to readers were not necessarily a representative sample. However, the research made clear that this is a significant and newsworthy phenomenon that had not been reported elsewhere in the media. In no way does our coverage of this issue stereotype or vilify men generally.



/s/ Leonard Downie , Jr.

Executive Editor

Date of RADAR Release: January 16, 2005

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R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org