I look closely at investigative stories written by The Post. Investigation is a key competency of The Post and should remain so, not just because of the Watergate legacy but because this is one of the prime functions of newspapers — holding government and institutions accountable. I hear this from readers all the time; they want fact-based, hard-hitting investigations that keep people honest.
One recent investigative story was Cheryl W. Thompson’s front-page article on Feb. 19, “The trick to D.C.’s homicide closure rate.” It had no factual inaccuracies — all the statistics in it are true — but in its language and tone, it seemed to tell a story more of gotcha than of scandal. I don’t think D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier used trickery in her reporting of statistics to mislead the public about the solving of homicide cases.
Rather than suggesting that Lanier was fudging numbers, I think the story would have worked far better as a straightforward explanation of how the Metropolitan Police Department, other major police departments and the FBI keep homicide statistics — and of some of the pitfalls in that method.