Talking back to the media

I wrote yesterday about the importance of newspapers engaging with their readers. Over the last two days, I’ve had the opportunity to write to two of the leading newspapers. I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

I emailed Scott McCartney of the Wall Street Journal to point out an error in the lead of a story about the increasing number of passengers being bumped by airlines. The original story stated that airlines involuntarily bumped 185,368 passengers in the last quarter. Within 10 minutes of my email, Scott responded that it was an error. It was fixed on the Web site within a few hours. (This, again, points to the need of newspapers to refer readers to original sources.)

I also emailed The Washington Post to complain about misguided financial advice by their personal finance columnist. In less than 24 hours, I received a detailed response from Jill Dutt, the Post’s business editor. Although we continue to disagree on this, I was impressed that she took the time to engage in the discussion. (For the reasons why the columnist’s advice is misguided, see the comments on the column.)

This kind of interaction would have been unheard of when I started in the online news business 12 years ago. It’s great to see two great newspapers connecting with readers.

Disclosure: I used to work at


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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