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Which story should have made the front page?

By Scott Tibbs, July 10, 2004

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: which story?
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2004 17:37:23 -0700 (PDT)
From: Scott Tibbs <tibbs1973@yahoo.com>
To: zaltsberg@heraldt.com
CC: rzaltsberg@heraldt.com Mr. Zaltzberg,

Robert Pate commented on the decision to have "local news" on the front page rather than President Bush's visit to Iraq last November, as opposed to the decision to place John Kerry's choice of a Vice Presidential running mate on the front page. Mr. Pate thought the President's trip to Iraq was more worthy of the front page than Kerry's pick of a running mate.

I can see the reason why the Herald-Times would want to have local news on the front page as opposed to national or international news. In today's media environment, people can get national and international news from numerous sources, especially if they have Internet access. The H-T (while it has competitors in the form of Hoosier Review, AM 1370, the Bloomington Alternative and the Indiana Daily Student) serves as the main outlet for local news for the people of Monroe County.

However, I think the policy to give "local news" preferential treatment on the front page is misguided. The stories that wind up on the front page should be the ones of the greatest news value. The President's trip to Iraq certainly falls in that category. Having a policy of "local news first" instead of "biggest news first" forces you to make decisions on when to break that policy, and inevitably leads to inconsistency in deciding which national/international stories to out on the front page. And, as Mr. Pate's letter points out, leaves you open to charges of ideological/partisan bias in your news coverage.

Scott Tibbs