Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

T-U Coverage of War Critic Draws Ire of Some Readers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

T-U Coverage of War Critic Draws Ire of Some Readers

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Clark, Times-Union Reader Advocate

Giving a prominent critic of the president's position on Iraq a prime spot on Tuesday's front page was sure to produce some criticism.

"I wish the Times-Union could find something besides a traitor to put on the front page," said a Baker County reader.

However, giving readers all sides of a story, even an unpopular position, is part of a newspaper's job.

But some of the criticisms have merit. The Chicago Tribune profile of former weapons inspector Scott Ritter began and ended from Ritter's point of view. Just one paragraph early in the story, summarizing the criticisms of Ritter, would have helped the story's balance.

Ritter doesn't believe Saddam Hussein is as great a threat as President Bush's administration. Space was devoted to Ritter's critics on the continuation page, but I think the most serious objection was skimmed over. The story referred to controversial contributions to Ritter from an Iraqi-American businessman. No details. Two readers had heard TV news reports that Ritter accepted $400,000 from this businessman. According to a critical piece in the Weekly Standard, Ritter apparently is planning to use that money to make a documentary on Iraq. For a story of such depth, this allegation should have been given more space, since it raises questions about Ritter's objectivity.

Did this story belong as the centerpiece on A-1? I have no problem with it on the front page, but the Chicago Tribune ran it on Page A-6. Its Washington Bureau reporter wrote the story.

Dear Reader Advocate: Why do the media call Saddam Hussein "Saddam" instead of "Hussein" in subsequent references in a story? Is Saddam a surname? -- Brian.

Dear Brian: The Associated Press uses Saddam on second reference, which the Times-Union uses for its style guidance. …

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