Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Multiple choice

I got into it with a few phone callers this morning during my monthly stint on WGHQ radio.

The first thought a back-page picture of soldiers returning from Iraq to Poughkeepsie wasn't enough. Two others supported her. I didn't remember exactly how the picture was played, but I expressed satisfaction that we had a photo at all, given it was out of Poughkeepsie, where we rarely have a presence. Then I returned to the office, dug up the Saturday paper, and found a big spread, with a color photo and story directly under the weather map. It couldn't have been a nicer, more prominent layout.

All of which goes to the point I tried to make to the disappointed callers: A story in which you are interested typically warrants more coverage, in your view, than a newspaper, or a radio or TV station gives it. Why? Because it's the most important story of the day to you. Trouble is, the editors and producers have desks full of stories that are important, too. Certainly they're equally as important to those with special interests in them, just as the soldiers story was to the callers with whom I, shall we say, chatted.

Lots of factors go into the assignment and subsequent placement of stories -- space, art and the subject matter key among them. The editors have to make choices, often tough ones. And you know what? They rarely make everyone happy.
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