Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shocked by our editorial cartoons

A longtime subscriber said he couldn't understand why The Tribune published what he characterized as inflammatory editorial cartoons on our opinion pages Monday. Both focused on Michelle Obama -- giving two contrasting opinions.

Editorial cartoons have long been a staple in American politics because of their lacerating wit. We recognize that what is witty and provocative to some can be entirely disagreeable to others.
The cartoons we published Monday demonstrated that well.
We don't expect readers to like -- or agree with -- all of the cartoons we publish. We offer them as another form of commentary.

-- Sandy Duerr

Monday, February 25, 2008

Political candidates: Is our coverage fair? Yes

Q. It bugs me that you give Hillary Clinton so much coverage. Her picture appears in your coverage far more often than Barack Obama’s or any other candidate. This has been true throughout the political season. Why don’t you count it up and see if I’m right?
-- Ross M.

A. We strive to be fair to all candidates, keeping in mind the news unfolding as states have held their presidential primaries. Until you asked, however, we hadn’t conducted a count. But intrigued by your concern, I looked back at our coverage since Feb. 1 through this past Friday – 22 days.
Here’s how the photos stacked up on the Democratic side:
-- 22 photos of Hillary Clinton plus four photos of her supporters including husband Bill and daughter Chelsea.
-- 21 photos of Barack Obama and four of his supporters.

On the Republican side, there were 15 pictures of John McCain; six of Mike Huckabee and one of a Huckabee supporter; four pictures of Mitt Romney and one photo of Ron Paul.

This picture count includes small thumbnail-sized photos. In most cases photo sizes of candidates – both Democrats and Republicans – were identical in size. This is not by accident, as we have consciously worked to ensure balanced coverage.

I also counted political stories during this time frame. If you look at only those stories that focused on a specific candidate, here are the results: McCain, 7; Huckabee, 6; Obama, 6; Clinton, 5; Romney, 3. This count excludes stories that focused on issues, such as fundraising for Democratic candidates, or that offered roundups of a Republican primary or Democratic primary, for example.

It’s important to keep in mind that the Republican race was pretty much decided as of Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, while the Democratic race has been closely contested. In addition, it’s fair to say that the candidates’ gender and ethnicity makes the Democratic race historic in a way that the Republican contest was not.

-- Sandra Duerr

Monday, February 18, 2008

Reader upset we called it a "drag" race

Regarding "Car hits Md. street-race crowd; 8 killed, "2-17-08; the error, which is mentioned numerous times, is this isn't a drag race! The story is about a illegal street race and "drag race" should never have been mentioned. I've been involved in motorsports most of my life and we've worked hard in many cities to gets kids off the street, such as the ones who were involved in the illegal street race in Maryland.You do a great disservice to the community and those that actually help.When you have an erroneous story such as this where you help to destroy everything we do, it is simply and totally irresponsible to SPREAD this garbage. DO NOT call illegal street racing, drag racing. Drag racing is a LEGAL sport run at drag strips throughout the U.S. The fact is, drag racing is the largest organized motorsport in the world. PLEASE, do not continue to hurt our efforts to get kids off the street - WHICH YOU DID.
_ Daryle W. Hier, Paso Robles

In my reply to Mr. Hier, I explained that we ran a story on the incident supplied by one of our wire services; we did not originate the story, which was published in Sunday's edition. We are of course responsible for everything we put into our paper, but we do rely on wire services for coverage of news events outside of our county.
I told Mr. Hier that our readers grasped the difference between a drag, or illegal street race, and formal drag racing at a track. The picture and headlining with our story surely would have shown to the readers that this was something on a public roadway, thus illegal and dangerous, and not a professional race track. So, I do not believe we harmed the sport, nor do I feel our coverage was "garbage."
_ Tad Weber