A Washington Post alum enjoys The Solomon Scandals blog but wonders why the devil I use “L Street” when referring to the Post. After all, isn’t the paper at 1150 15th Street, N.W.?
Well, once upon a time, the Post’s official address was in fact 1515 L Street. And, maybe in tribute to Londoners’ old “Fleet Street” nickname for the press, the “L Street” reference found its way into the Post newspaper some years ago. What a great link between the tangible and the journalism I grew up reading; a neighbor of mine even helped put out the editorial page. That is how “L Street” ended up in the Solomon Scandals blog. Some might say the street reference continues to work. Think of a parallel. Certain writers still say Fleet Street when referring to the London press despite the actual newspapers’ having moved on. It’s a little like mentioning K Street when talking about Washington lobbyists’ turf after the actual firms have relocated elsewhere.
In this era of vidcams and Net-enabled hyperlocal news, however, I need to modernize. The story I have from one Post employee, as well as a second, in public relations, is that the Post physically comprises at least two buildings joined together. When the Post put up the second with a more imposing front, among other advantages, the location was on L Street rather than on 15th. The Google map charmingly preserves the vestiges of the 1515 L Street address—well, assuming we can believe it, not always the case (scroll down this post for a scary story about the risks of outdated or incomplete electronic maps). Got it now? But where does that leave me? I still need a sobriquet for the Post—my childhood reading, not just current journalistic fare—even if it’s a newspaper rather than a human and the editorial page is too neo-con these days for a guy reared on the old Post in the L Street era.
So here’s the deal. The reader of this blog who comes up with the best substitute for ”L Street” will win a free paper copy of The Solomon Scandals (warning: salty city-room language and requisite cynicism, although the newspaper involved is most definitely not the Post). I mean something good: there’s a certain QC threshold you must cross. “15th Street,” for example, somehow lacks the same ring of “L Street.” Maybe writers simply prefer letters over numbers. And forget about the oft-used “WaPo.” Sounds too much like an intelligence agency or utility company. I’ve used it, but only for want of something better. Email me at email@example.com. Other than members of my family or individuals associated with Twilight Times Books, anyone on Planet Earth may enter, Washington Post Company people included, past and present, from Donald Graham on down. Deadline—how’s that for a newspaper word?—is 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight on August 31.
Note: Just to be clear, this is not in the least an official Washington Post contest. I have no business connection with the paper other than having freelanced for L Street occasionally in the distant past.
(Updated to address the “WaPo” issue. Also, I’ve extended the deadline for contest entries.)
Further update, September 18: Belatedly, I’ll mention there were no takers. Is the world really that happy with the “WaPo”? nickname? Perhaps so. I myself still think it sounds like an intel agency or utility outfit.