Friday, November 30, 2007

Hints from Heloise: where is it?

Christine Haubruge asks if we eliminated the Hints from Heloise column.
We did, temporarily, but it will be back Sunday in our Central Coast Living section. It will also run on Wednesdays in our Food and Wine section. We're still considering when and where to publish it on other days.
-- Sandy Duerr

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Reader asks why we showed Paso girls mourning a classmate's death

The Tribune should not have taken a picture of the three Flamson Middle School students that is on the front page. You photographed them at a vulnerable moment as they mourned the loss of a classmate. That was wrong to do.
_ Anonymous reader

In Tuesday's paper we published a photo taken by staff photographer Jayson Mellom of three girls at Flamson Middle School grieving the tragic death of Ashlyn Vargas. She was a Flamson student who died in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Thanksgiving. A remembrance event was set up by school officials for students who wanted to mourn together, as well as leave messages for the family on a banner.
We had school permission to attend the session, which means the students knew they could be photographed. And Jayson acted as unobtrusively as possible. He stood quietly in a corner for nearly 15 minutes before he took the picture that we ran. "My goal was to be invisible and yet tell the story of the impact this girl had on the school."
Jayson did not seek out this assignment -- his editors directed him to cover the grieving. The room where the students gathered "was really jammed," Jayson said. "It was just horrible. All these kids were crying ... It was just sad."
Still, it was a legitimate news story to cover for the reason Jayson cited. Ashlyn's death was affecting her school community, and we wanted to communicate that information to readers.
I like to tell young journalists that news can be good, bad or ugly. Our job is to cover it fairly, accurately and sensitively, and Jayson did that well.
_ Tad Weber

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Will we bring late-night listings back?

Q. You have certainly been kept busy with all these changes and, as always, the paper in my opinion supplies just what is needed. I like having a full range of op-ed pieces too. I have a quick question on the Sunday TV Book. Why did the Golf Channel and Cinemax get left out?
-- Bob Leith, Paso Robles

A. Some readers had asked us to provide a less-cluttered look for the listings. So a few weeks ago we focused on the most-watched channels (Golf and Cinemax are not) and dropped 28 channels. We reinstated those channels Sunday to our prime-time listings, however, after several dozen readers complained.

Q. What happened to the late night listings (in the Sunday TV Book)? Certainly there must be enough night owls and insomniacs in the county to warrant continuing this section.
-- Ro Brooks

A. As you probably read in Publisher Chip Visci’s column in the TV Book Sunday, we are considering restoring the midnight to 6 a.m. listings by the end of December. To make space for them, we are looking at eliminating the Playing Field sports listings, which we list daily on Page 2 of the Sports section; eliminating the Best Bets page; and reducing the descriptions in the Movie Listings of two-star movies to the title, genre, actors and times. The fuller descriptions of three- and four-star movies would remain. We’d appreciate your opinion on this plan. Given the current economic downturn, we can’t add more pages to the weekly book because of newsprint costs. As Visci wrote, “Our core mission is providing space and staffing to cover local news, and while TV listings are important to some readers, it’s not our primary focus.”

-- Sandy Duerr

Monday, November 19, 2007

Reader offers thanks for Los Osos coverage

Q. I would like to thank The Tribune for its objective reporting on our issues (in Los Osos) over the last year or so. Knowing the influence your paper has on opinion, it has been very important that a balanced view was maintained, and that has surely happened. … We will never know for sure how much your articles and editorials contributed to getting people to vote, and thus to the success of the 218 vote (sewer issue). But we are very grateful that you have given and continue to give it your honest best views, which we feel contributed and will continue to contribute greatly.
-- Joyce Albright, Los Osos

A. On behalf of my colleagues, please accept our gratitude for taking the time to thank us. We appreciate such kind words.
_ Sandra Duerr

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday TV Book to get back channels in its listings

Q. Can you restore the channels you dropped last week in your Sunday TV Book? We don’t need the bigger type or the extra space for the channels you kept.
-- Several readers

A. Yes, we will restore them in two weeks, starting with the Nov. 25 TV Book. We have heard from about 80 faithful readers who expressed concern that we had dropped some of their favorite channels – such as Soap, Spike TV and Speed. We will not restore the TV logs during the early morning hours, however; very few people rely on them.
_ Sandra Duerr

Monday, November 5, 2007

When we show photos of graffiti vandalism

Q: I was disappointed to see that the Trib actually printed an easily read photo of the graffiti that appeared in Atascadero yesterday (Nov. 1). The entire reason for doing that crime is for public recognition and claiming a stake on a territory. You glorify the crime by showing a photo of it, especially a photo easily identifying the vandal’s tag.
_ Diana

The photo that Diana is concerned about actually did not get published in The Tribune, but appeared on But her question is still relevant: Why did we cover an act of vandalism with a photo?
To be sure, we generally avoid running pictures of vandalism for the reason she raises: The people who commit such crimes seek notoriety and publishing such photos only encourages them. There will be exceptions, however. In this case, we posted the photo because it showed one part of what was a fairly significant defacing at a public elementary school in Atascadero. Schools are regarded as safe havens in our society, so when that line is crossed by an act like vandalism, it is newsworthy. Our breaking news story about the vandalism also noted that other spray painting had occurred over a two-day stretch elsewhere in Atascadero, and involved a business and private property.
For most of Thursday, when the story first appeared on our Web site, viewers could only see the photo if they clicked on the breaking news headline about the vandalism. We did not make the photo a prominent part of our online report.
_ Tad Weber