Thursday, December 15, 2005

Job Well Done

I have been back and forth with the N&O news editor, Melanie Sill, regarding what I felt was unfair coverage of the president's speech in Philadelphia earlier this week. So today, when I saw the coverage in the N&O of the president's speech in D.C. (the final in the series of 4), I sent the following note of congratulations:

I would like to compliment your 1A coverage and headlines today, especially in comparison to what I felt was unfair coverage earlier in the week. I think the difference in how a similar event (a speech by President Bush) was reported would serve as a great study for journalists.

In today's edition the headline accurately reported the news of the day without editorializing or providing negative spin: Bush: War will bring a free Iraq, a secure U.S. That is what the president said, and you reported it. The story was also much better in terms of focusing on the main points the president conveyed rather then focusing on the minor comments that might reflect badly on the administration. The story fairly provided quotes from critics of the president's policy, but the news was the speech and that was featured, not the critics response to the speech.

I would have preferred that this "news headline and story" receive the same top center coverage as the previous "negative spin headline and story," but at least it was on the front page.

I have charged David Westphal with editorializing his reporting in the past, but in this case his story was so much better than what you receive from the NYT or AP that I suggest you use his copy more often. Please pass along my compliments to Mr. Westphal on his work.

Scott Pierce

I am not going soft on the N&O, but they clearly got it right this time, and if our goal is to improve, rather than destroy the paper (and it is for me), then we have to recognize good reporting (as we do often with military reporter Jay Price).