Coverage of the Mount Graham telescope project in Arizona on April 21-22 brought in criticisms from two readers.
Besides Melissa Buffalo’s guest column April 26, Chad Renz was also concerned.
Renz wrote of coverage of drug use and other problems in San Carlos, Ariz., “It appears to be completely out of place and uncalled for in this context.”
Managing Editor K.C. Howard said, “The issues of poverty, crime and distress are the background of the story. Mount Graham is a very complicated situation. Without this background, readers will not understand the whole context.”
Associate editor Kari Petrie said, “The problems weren’t fundamental to the telescope story. But most people in San Carlos were focused on the problems mentioned at the end of the story.”
Efforts to address broader concerns of San Carlos aside, I concur with Renz, who said, “May I suggest leaving information regarding ‘the plight of the Apache’ for another day’s article.”
Buffalo and Renz agreed on another criticism, this one of the April 22 front-page photo, which showed three men sitting above the San Carlos Reservoir.
Renz wrote, “The image of three Apaches is offensive in two ways. First, the image itself is inappropriate because the first thing a reader might notice is the shiny beer can in the hand of one of the men. Second, I fail to understand the importance of including the occupations of the Apache men in the caption.”
Photographer Thomas Whisenand said, “I tried to capture images of real people and their lives. The three men in the photo were average guys. After 10 hours pouring concrete, I’d be drinking a beer, too.”
Whisenand said he thought the photo was a statement about people working hard to make it where work is difficult to find, and the continual concerns about water rights. It was not a statement about alcoholism. Whisenand and the editors chose to use this photo knowing it might cause concern.
Avoiding topics or pictures simply because there are people who don’t approve is the basis of censored journalism.
March for choice
Eight days ago, more than 1 million people gathered in Washington to demonstrate their support for women’s reproductive rights. This was covered in the Daily by a short Associated Press story on the second page.
Maureen Miller asked a pointed question: “This is big news, and the Daily staff basically chose to ignore it. Why?”
Editor in Chief Shane Hoefer said, “If there was big news on campus or in the Twin Cities, we’d have tried to cover it. There wasn’t.”
Tim Stanely, executive director of NARAL Pro-choice Minnesota, said there were 50 University students at the march.
Howard said, “Marches like this happen every year. If the Daily covered this, next time we’d have to cover the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life rally. The Daily can’t cover everything nationally.”
Limiting coverage to events that happen in the Twin Cities does a disservice to the University community. The Daily has a responsibility to cover events that impact readers’ lives – whether abortion rights, anti-abortion issues or a different subject entirely.
John Schaus is The Minnesota Daily’s readers’ representative, and as such acts as the Daily’s ombudsman. He is independent of the newsroom and welcomes readers’ comments about the Daily’s reporting, or its absence, at [email protected]