• Three sides to every story

    Columns, Columns-Featured

    It’s often said there are two sides to every story… “It turns out that there are often three,” notes ESPN Ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer, “your side, the other side and the truth.” Such is the nature of controversy and ESPN’s coverage of the suspension and eventual firing of a college football coach serves as exhibit A.

    According to ESPN, the story about Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach overall generated more complaints to the network than any other topic in the past year. Mail sent to the the ombudsman’s mailbag increased sixfold over any other previous issue. Many of the comments were directed at ESPN’s overall coverage of the Leach controversy, not just the telecast.

  • Why the letters page is still a male stronghold

    Columns, Columns-Featured

    Readers do not necessarily suspect a sexist conspiracy at the Observer, but they do wonder why the paper publishes more letters from men than from women. “Are letters from men more interesting and relevant and therefore more likely to be selected?” asked one reader.

    According to Observer Readers’ Editor Stephen Pritchard, men write many more letters to the paper than women, so they probably stand a better chance of getting published. Additionally, the serial letter writers, those who write every week and sometimes every day, are exclusively male. Since most letters are written in response to pieces in the paper, Pritchard wonders if this says something about its content appealing more to men than women? “We’ll only know if many more women write to tell us.”

  • Noting ‘non-standard’ English troubles some readers

    Columns, Columns-Featured

    Kansas City Star readers prefer the newspaper avoid slang, jargon, abbreviations and improper English. Readers’ Representative Derek Donovan adds to that list neologism and terminology unique to certain professions. And when it comes to slang and dialects, things get more complex.

    Informal language can enliven dull writing, but it should fit the situation appropriately. As Donovan notes, “There’s a good counter-argument that these informal usages are an undeniable part of everyone’s daily life, and journalism shouldn’t always shy away from them. But here, you have to pick and choose where it’s appropriate.”

  • Scanning the source

    Columns, Columns-Featured

    A recent segment on the PBS NewsHour examined efforts to improve the safety of air travel, focusing especially on body-scan screening machines at airports. Among those interviewed was the former Department of Homeland Security chief, Michael Chertoff. Althought Chertoff was introduced as a consultant for one company that manufacturers body scanners, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler wonders why Chertoff was interviewed for the segment. “There are lots of people who can discuss this controversial topic who do not have a clear self-interest or financial interest and who will not leave viewers suspicious.”

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