Archive for July, 2014
Many thanks to West Virginia journalist Nerissa Young, who swung by the Charleston Daily Mail this week to lead a discussion on freedom of information.
Nerissa is a former reporter at the Register-Herald in Beckley and has taught at Shepherd University, Marshall University and now at Ohio University. She’s also the author of “Mass Communications Law in West Virginia,” which was the hook for what she talked to the Daily Mail news reporters about.
Her discussion provided helpful advice but was equal parts pep talk, reminding reporters that they represent citizens with an interest and a stake in knowing what their government is doing.
It was a good talk, and if you have an interest in open government then be sure to check out Nerissa’s book.
As in any line of work, journalism is susceptible to mistakes. Unlike many, however, ours can happen on the front page where everyone can see it.
On Friday, I was very proud to see our 1A centerpiece celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.
It was lovely and had everything — an Apollo astronaut and the American flag on the surface of the moon. But, Charleston, we had a problem.
There was also a lunar rover in the picture. This was not an image from the historic 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing; this was James P. Irwin from the Apollo 15 mission in 1971.
In my position as managing editor, I also wear the hats of design editor and acting graphics editor, the latter of which means I’m mostly responsible for garnering file images for the publication.
We had planned earlier in the week to do a special front for Friday, so I quickly gathered photos from the Associated Press archives for our designer to work with.
Unfortunately, in my search, the image of Irwin was in the same batch of results as the iconic picture of Buzz Aldrin. In my hurry to grab good art, I failed to read all the captions and lumped them all together.
That was my first mistake.
The second mistake came when looking at the proof. I am now one of only a handful of people on staff old enough to remember the Apollo program. I knew the lunar rover did not go up on the first landing, but in my focus on the astronaut, the flag and the lunar module, I didn’t notice the second vehicle that shouldn’t have been there in ’69.
And now it’s part of the permanent record — with a correction forthcoming, of course.
If we’re lucky, aside from the chiding of an eagle-eyed readership, that’s the worst fallout of our mistakes. (The worst usually involves lawyers.) The only salve we can apply is that we get another chance to do a good paper with our next edition and that we will try harder to be more careful in the future.
(Hat tip goes out to reader Patrick Baker who pointed out the error.)
Do you put ‘Family Circus’ on your fridge? Do you love or hate ‘Pearls Before Swine’? Don’t feel complete without the Jumble?
About once a year we take a look at our newspaper syndicated features lineup. Usually that’s prompted by proposed rate increases by the syndicates so we’re assessing what still seems worth the price.
Often, though, we’re just guessing at what’s resonating with readers.
And before I go any farther, here’s a universal truth: different people like different things. In other words, you’re never gonna please everyone.
Still, we’d like to know more about what our readers like, so we invited them to tell us.
In print editions, which is where the comics and puzzles run (sorry Internet readers), we’ve been printing a survey: “Like it a lot,” “It’s OK,” “Hate it” and “Would not notice if it were gone” for each of our current syndicated offerings.
This is not exactly a popular vote. It’s not a “vote one off the island” kind of thing. But I’m interested in seeing any trends. I’m probably most interested in how people reply to “It’s OK” and “Would not notice if it were gone” — those features that just don’t move the needle either way.
It’s just been a few days, but responses have been flowing in steadily.
One thing I’ve learned is that people aren’t shy about saying they miss Beetle Bailey, which was cut late last year because of its high price and advancing age. “Miss Beetle Bailey comic,” commented a retiree from Charleston. Another 69-year-old retiree also pleaded, “Bring back Beetle Bailey.” “What happened to Beetle Bailey??” another asked.
Age has been one factor in written responses, with some older readers saying they are not fans of some of the newer offerings.
“How about some classic Lil Abner or other old comics for your older adult readers instead of this childish jibberish?” suggested an 83-year-old respondent.
“Comics aren’t funny any more except Family Circus,” commented a 63-year-old.
“I am 75 and the new comics do not make sense to me,” a reader commented.
Another reader expressed appreciation for puzzles.
“Crossword and Jumble help me to stay mentally active,” wrote a 77-year-old Campbell’s Creek resident.
Keep ’em coming and we’ll let you know what more people have to say.