Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Here Are Issues Readers Are Raising at Various Papers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Here Are Issues Readers Are Raising at Various Papers

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Clark, Times-Union Reader Advocate

It's interesting to see what readers are saying at the approximately 35 other U.S. newspapers with reader advocates.

As editor of the Web site for the Organization of News Ombudsmen, I read the other columns of my colleagues. Of course, there are regional differences, but human nature is remarkably similar.

So here is a glance at issues arising nationwide.

Sensitivity to crime victims

The Akron Beacon Journal revealed the identity of a 14-year-old who was an abuse victim. That's usually the sort of information that the Times-Union would not publish. But the Akron paper also was criticized for revealing the name of a man charged with domestic violence, since readers then could identify his victim and wife. A similar case involved allegations of sexual harassment between a podiatrist by his office manager.

My comments: As the Times-Union ethics code states, a newspaper is in the business of publishing information, not suppressing it. But when it comes to minimizing harm, it can be a struggle to balance the need to inform and the need to be sensitive to crime victims. Healthy newsroom discussion before publication usually results in reasonable decisions.

COMICS MANIA

The Chicago Tribune recently dropped three comics (Fred Basset, James and Mixed Media) and replaced them with three new ones (Out of the Gene Pool, The Fusco Brothers and Doodles). The editors broke the unofficial rule that you can never get rid of a pet comic (Fred Basset). Given enough time, even the worst comic develops fans. The Chicago newspaper received protests through 150 phone calls and 200 e-mails.

My comments: A comics lineup needs to be freshened or it gets stale. The comics can be a microcosm of the newspaper by offering strips that appeal to various ages, races, genders and interest groups. …

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