Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Why 'Balance' May Be Elusive

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Why 'Balance' May Be Elusive

Article excerpt

Byline: Wayne Ezell

Some readers have complained rather vigorously about the Times-Union's handling of stories related to the presidential campaign, claiming they see bias, unfairness and even favoritism toward one candidate. There is disagreement, though, about which candidate is being favored.

Last Sunday's front-page centerpiece and two open pages about four former Vietnam prisoners of war from this area was especially troublesome for Alan Donaldson of Amelia Island. The gripping narrative told how the First Coast heroes spent time in the Hanoi Hilton with a man they now support for president.

"The spread on John McCain was well done, well calculated to foster sympathy and support for this candidate," Donaldson wrote. "Does the Times-Union plan similar in-depth, positive spreads on the Democrat hopefuls? Or is such balanced coverage of the presidential campaigns too much to expect?"

Fred Kaempfer saw something far different in Sunday's paper -- evidence of what he called spin in an overload of photos and stories about Sen. Barack Obama.

He saw four photos, beginning with one at the top of Page A-1 that teased to a big story on the Insight front where there loomed an Obama image that was 13 inches tall.

The story was an analysis of the fallout over incendiary comments by Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., and the senator's Tuesday speech in response to it.

Yet another Obama photo was in the Life section alongside a Hollywood-based story chronicling celebrity reaction to what an excited writer termed "a speech of a lifetime."

Kaempfer asked, "How would this reporting differ from the extreme liberal party line? Where is the other side?"

Disapproval from others seemed not to be tempered by the McCain story or a generally positive story about Sen. Hillary Clinton that dominated a news section front Sunday.

"I want to find out how much Obama paid for that full-page ad that he had on the front of the Insight section," said Logan Savage.

Those comments paled in comparison to the vitriol unleashed after Wednesday's front-page story about a local minister, the Rev. …

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