Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Webb City Sentinel Editor Bob Foos addressed the connection between the Terri Schaivo case and the groundbreaking Nancy Cruzan case in his newspaper's March 25 edition.
Foos' thorough, well-written article featured a brief review of the Cruzan case, as well as quotes from Cruzan lawyer William Colby and others connected to the case.
I have been a bit surprised there hasn't been more in The Joplin Globe about the Cruzan case. Of course, many of the reporters who worked there during that time are no longer on the job, but one valuable living resource is former Globe reporter Jo Ellis, who later worked with me at The Carthage Press.
Jo covered the Cruzan case from its beginning and an op-ed piece by her would be well worth reading.
I won't go into another long tirade about the way area newspapers treat coverage of the death of prominent people, but why on earth didn't the Neosho Daily News offer page-one coverage to the deaths of Andrew Barker and Pat Versluis?
Rev. Barker died last week after battling cancer and his obituary ran on page two for "a small fee," according to the Daily's obituary policy.
One reason some newspapers don't get into the business of running stories about deaths on page one is that they might leave someone out and bring a torrent of complaints. Hey, that goes with the job of being a newspaper editor or publisher. Decisions have to be made every day on what news is printed and what news gets left out. Err on the side of running too many page-one obituaries rather than too few.
Is the death news. Sometimes it is because the people have been active, productive citizens. Sometimes it is because of the way a person died, a murder victim, a teenager who dies in a traffic accident, etc. Sometimes it is a person who was involved in some type of news story a long time ago. All of these are the kinds of stories that build valuable, loyal readership.
On the same day the Rev. Barker's obituary was featured on page two, half of the front page was devoted to two stories on two large photos of Congressman Roy Blunt's visits to Neosho and Pineville. I hate to see this, but...Congressman Blunt visits here a lot and he will visit here again. His stories could have been jumped, maybe even one of the photos. We also were treated to a page one story about the recycling center no longer accepting trash. Is that worthwhile news? Of course, it is. Does that belong on page one instead of the death of a prominent citizen?
I don't think so.
Let me know what you think.

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