Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Brian Lewis, the assistant editorial-page editor of the News-Leader, posts an especially interesting piece in the News-Leader's "Your Voices" blog. Under the headline, "Reader complaints: way too much diversity," Lewis grabs a letter from Don Snavely and said, "I thought I’d post it here (unedited) on the blog."

(Why the letter is unedited is anybody's guess, given that Lewis is an editor by title, but it's littered with typos and a wide, ugly streak of anger.)

Snavely's main gripe is that the paper "has flagrantly featured black faces on it's (sic) pages way out of proportion to their participation or newworthiness (sic) for a long, long time."

Snavely claimed he spoke with Lewis about the overabundance of black faces in the paper; Lewis "denied my allegation," Snavely wrote.

What is true is the News-Leader's commitment to diversity, as spelled out by corporate parent Gannett. The "All-American" review is designed "to improve, and assure, the inclusion of local minority voices and faces in the daily news coverage of Gannett newspapers." Reporters are strongly encouraged to seek diverse voices in stories. Photographers are likewise encouraged to get those diverse mugshots in the paper.

Snaveley probably wouldn't like, approve of or appreciate such a commitment; for some there is no hope. But he deserved a straight response. He wrote:
I persisted and asked Mr. Lewis why 80% of his articles were about 4% of his readers (blacks). I told him that black issues were of little news interest to me and my neighbors and the rest of the Ozark area. I asked him to please write about things of interest to us. Mr. Lewis hung up on me in mid sentence.
Lewis responds in the blog:
It’s long been our policy to call people and confirm authorship before publishing letters in the paper as described in this letter.

Mr. Snavely writes that I hung up on him in mid-sentence. That’s very unlike me and the way I treat readers.
Unlikely, but true? We wouldn't blame Lewis if he did.


Anonymous said...

Gannett is doing the right thing by insisting that all its newspapers, including the NewsLeader, make sure they're not excluding any segment of the audience. But sometimes they have minorities appear in the newspaper so often that it doesn't give a true picture of the local population. From what I've been told by News-Leader people, they go overboard so as to not get in trouble with the Gannett bosses at corporate headquarters. That is not right. In fact, it is insulting to the minorities because they are being patronized for the sake of pleasing absentee owners.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, media tolerance of diverse viewpoints again demonstrated in their day-to-day work. Unless, of course, they disagree with someone...then let's hang up on them and make them look like idiots. Even if, at its root, they have a valid point.

Anonymous said...

Make them look like idiots, anon 8:39? Seems Snavely took care of that task all by his little old racist lonesome.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe this is even an issue. I've never noticed an disparity of articles or pictures favoring one race or another. I haven't even thought about it until I read this post. Maybe some folks need to focus their energies on more productive "causes".

Anonymous said...

As a member of one of the last remaining persecuted minorities, fat people, I demand to be over represented in the press! I demand to be sought out for comment on issues of the day as they related to my minority perspective. You can find me at Golden Trough, uh, Corral.

Desdinova said...

Anon 8:39, Snavely doesn't have a valid point. As Strannix said he made himself look like an idiot.

From what I gather, he is upset because his kid didn't get his little white face in the paper.

Personally, I would have not been so nice with this guy. I would has said something more like "Look what this brain damaged a$$hole wrote." I wouldn't have ran the other two letters this week from the anti-diversity crowd, but of course I not with the News Leader. Also, Lewis probably has to run some of those things whether he likes it or not.

There is always some doofus out there who thinks the media is picking on him or her personally. Trust me I deal with them everyday.