Just what is a newspaper ombudsman for? This is a question raised by Sunday's column by Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander -- not because he raises it, but because the column is so misguided it's actually quite instructive.
The column is about the manufactured "scandal" of the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case. Alexander notes that the Post did a story about it, and writes, "The story succinctly summarized the issues but left many readers with a question: What took you so long?"
One of the things I tell college and grad students studying social science whenever I have the chance is that the most important class you can take is the one in research methods. It's usually taught by someone who doesn't really want to teach it, and it's usually pretty boring, but what you learn there gives you some vital skills. Among other things, it teaches you which questions are important to ask, and how to go about answering them.
You've probably heard about the New Black Panther Party "scandal," in which a guy stood outside a polling place in a heavily black precinct holding a billy club (Adam has been talking about this extensively; see here). Well it's starting to break through to the mainstream media, as these things always do; see, for instance, this Washington Postarticle in which the passive voice is used extensively. It "has become a political controversy for the Obama administration," yes indeed.