A water main break with toilet flushing restrictions is no small thing. But it appears a newspaper correction on water restrictions is a humongous undertaking for WaPo, especially when a journo from another outlet phones it in. When a WTOP editor told WaPo of a Saturday error (one that could affect many people), a WaPo employee on the Metro desk reportedly replied, “We have reporters.” WTOP’s V.P. of News and Programming Jim Farley remarked, “Can you spell a-r-r-o-g-ant?”
The backstory: On Saturday, WaPo reported that the city of Rockville had lifted water restrictions. But that was wrong – it hadn’t. WTOP’s Assistant Editor Kit Rockhill noticed the error, and as WTOP puts it, a professional courtesy, called WaPo‘s metro desk.
Rockhill wrote an e-mail to her boss, Farley, telling her version of what had happened. With the subject line, “Washington Post Rudeness,” Rockhill wrote:
“We got a breaking news alert from the Post saying the water restrictions were lifted in Rockville and citing a police dispatcher. Amy called both Rockville’s Public Works PIO and the City Government’s PIO (Craig Simoneau and Shannon Lumis respectively) and they both said it was not true that restrictions were still in place.
“We decided to call the Post and tell them so they could issue a retraction. I called the Post, asked for the Metro section. A woman answered and transferred me to someone (name sounded like Robert but didn’t quite catch it.) I explained I was with WTOP and wanted to have him talk to our reporter who confirmed restrictions were not lifted. I was told direct quote “We have reporters here ma’am.” I said I understand but…then I was cut off and told again direct quote “We have reporters here ma’am we don’t need to talk to your reporter.” It was all said in a very condescending and frankly quite rude voice and then he hung up.”
Farley told FishbowlDC: “The main motto of the WTOP Newsroom is “First get it right…THEN get it first.” FishbowlDC has requested comment from WaPo and we’ll bring it to you when and if we get it.
WaPo ultimately settled on this correction approximately 30 minutes after WTOP called…
The Washington Post erroneously reported that water restrictions had been lifted in Rockville after receiving incorrect information from a city official.
A spokeswoman for the City of Rockville said Saturday that water use restrictions there, in place following a July 7 main break, have not yet been lifted, but could be later Saturday.
The restrictions include limits on lawn watering, toilet flushing, and car washing.
The 24-inch main was repaired Friday, but crews had been flushing and testing the system.
“They’re still out there making sure the system is fully pressurized,” said the spokeswoman, Shannon Loomis. The city water system serves 13,445 homes.
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