Some Readers Disappointed with T-U on Holiday Coverage

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Clark, Times-Union Reader Advocate

There's a joke about local newspapers taking local coverage to an extreme, missing the big picture.

Something like, "Local man dies as world ends."

The Florida Times-Union switched the stereotype last week, covering national Memorial Day activities with depth, but missed a few key items noticed by readers.

First, the good news. Coverage of Memorial Day weekend began the Thursday before the holiday with a story on the rededication of the Veterans Memorial Wall in Jacksonville. Meanwhile, the newspaper sent its military reporter to Washington, D.C., following Jacksonville veterans attending the dedication of the World War II memorial. Memorial Day dominated the front page on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Memorial Day).

Yet, readers noticed two flaws.

On the Memorial Day front page, the Times-Union honored 49 men from Florida who had died in Afghanistan and Iraq. In a few cases, photos were not available, so U.S. flags were used. Unfortunately, those flags were displayed incorrectly. The blue field should be on the left. A total of 18 readers protested.

Mark Worthen, senior chief petty officer, United States Naval Reserve, wrote that it was insulting: "I appreciate the support the Times-Union gives to our military members, and the intent to honor our fallen on the front page of Monday's paper. The pictures of the fallen, and the American flag where there was no photo available, generated an immediate sense of pride as I thought about the supreme sacrifice that these men and women made for us. Unfortunately, pride quickly turned to grief as I realized that I'm paying for a subscription to a newspaper that can't correctly display the American flag for our dead."

Then Tuesday's newspaper failed to include coverage of Memorial Day ceremonies at the Veterans Memorial Wall near downtown Jacksonville. …