Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Weaver Beanie Baby Story Turned out to Be a Talker

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Weaver Beanie Baby Story Turned out to Be a Talker

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Clark, Times-Union Reader Advocate

Readers reacted passionately to a front-page story on the missing Beanie Babies of Delores Weaver. It seems someone stole them from her Alltel Stadium luxury box.

Criticism fell into several categories. If you like the wife of Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, then the story appeared to be making fun of her. Some readers felt it gave special treatment to one of Jacksonville's social elite.

Michael Pittius called the Dec. 13 story "insignificant drivel," a "puerile commentary" that did not belong on the front page.

"I understand the Times-Union staff cannot be held accountable for the immaturity and ignorance of its constituents, but it certainly can do a much better job of deciding what is relevant and what is the mindless ranting of someone with too much time on her hands," he said.

Strong reactions to the Weaver story are understandable. We received dozens of e-mails. I have no quarrel with the objections and don't want to debate the Beanie Baby issue here.

But the criticism that I would like to address is its placement on the front page. Readers challenged the relative importance of this story when compared to news of war, recession, racism, layoffs, smallpox and more. There's no comparison, of course. It's a legitimate point.

There was debate within the newsroom on that decision. Newsrooms don't act with one monolithic mind. Far from it. The article was placed on the bottom of the front page, the usual spot for a story that is not considered big news, but a break from heavy depressing news. It's a "talker," in newsroom parlance.

The Times-Union is hardly the only newspaper that places offbeat stories on Page 1. The Wall Street Journal, one of the most respected newspapers in the United States, has been doing it every day for years. Last week, for instance, they had front-page stories on videogames and on high-pressure toilets.

By the way, a story on the bottom of Page 1 probably won't sell many newspapers. …

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