Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reader Says the Paper Missed the Mark on Story Placement

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reader Says the Paper Missed the Mark on Story Placement

Article excerpt

A story involving the health care of millions of Americans deserved front-page placement over a fire in an abandoned warehouse, said a Jacksonville physician.

Kenneth Jones, a transplant surgeon, questioned the news judgment of the Times-Union regarding the Sunday, Feb. 25, newspaper.

Surgeon General David Satcher, in his first visit to Jacksonville, described an aggressive plan to improve health care in the United States over the next 10 years, especially among Americans without health care.

The Satcher story was placed on top of the Metro front. Jones said the Satcher story deserved to be on the front page for these reasons:

1. Medical and scientific issues do not receive enough attention as compared to sports, for instance, Jones said. This indicates why some professionals feel they must read The New York Times in order to receive a more complete view of the news, he said.

2. The story that received the largest play on the Metro section that day was the retirement of a 70-year-old barber, which raised questions about hard news vs. soft features.

3. The fact that Satcher is African-American increases the concern of Jones, because readers need to know that there are prominent blacks in the scientific and medical community.

Said Jones: "Here is someone of national prominence relegated to the B section, and he gets smaller billing than the barber who retired after 70 years. I guess I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised by the Times-Union, yet it continues to be mediocre and derogatory in its coverage of anything positive in the African-American community."

My comments: The front page on Feb. 25 had only three stories: the warehouse fire, an examination of the impact of the death of stock car racer Dale Earnhardt and the first story in a series on diversity in the public schools. The warehouse fire, with its big photos, dominated the page. In my view, the Earnhardt story could have gone in the Sports or Insight sections with the surgeon general story in its place on A-1. …

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