Editor-at-large Frank Denton’s column last Sunday, in which he responded to readers’ examples of what they saw as biased reporting, drew quite a number of responses. We are printing some of them this week and will continue with more responses next week.

 

You recently requested reader comments regarding the appearance of bias in FL Times-Union reporting. While I can find reason to quietly seek such comments without the writing staff knowing that a one week window was being monitored, I am glad you received several comments of what readers perceived as bias. I personally felt the Times-Union exhibited LESS bias during that week.


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So perhaps it all worked.

I have previously commented to Frank about obvious typos in the editing of various Times-Union reporting. In an AP article the Times chose to print, the AP calls out the president for typos in his Twitter account. Twitter is generally considered a less formal writing element than a daily newspaper. However, the Times-Union has its own case of typos that are not appropriate for readers, young and old, trying to learn English and all those paying a premium price for printed media. We are 26-year daily subscribers to your paper and, although not English majors, the repeated typos are disturbing.

It appears your staff does not edit AP stories, nor local articles on the Money page, as three (3) articles on page 1 of 3/5/17 Money are shown as continuing on Page 3 but actually were found on Page 4. This is simply one example of “continued on Page …” error that we have noticed.

Please do your part to correct the abuse of the English language. As a tutor of adult literacy, it does not help when our local paper exhibits these typos.

John Wilkinson

Seemingly, you cannot see the forest for the trees. Do you HONESTLY believe your paper is not biased? Slanted presentation runs throughout your paper even to the sports page. Your paper reeks of a liberal social and political ideal embraced within most of your articles.

Frank, perhaps idealism is buried too deeply within your thought process forcing you to not recognize unfair printing?

R.P. Gatyas

Thank you for a clear exposition of newspaper writing. I’m working on a fiction story, and I meet with other writers in mutual critique sessions. One of our more successful writers (published, that is) often brings us up short with the reminder, “Show — don’t tell!”

You pointed out several times that’s what your reporters do in their stories. “… they gave the reader a feeling for the scene being reported. A good writer is taught to not only tell something but also to show the reader.” [Emphasis yours]

Thanks again for your well-written column.

Keep ’em coming!

Nancy Payne-Olewiler

^

Thank you, Frank. I am sending a letter to the paper I started this morning praising you for your thoughtful response. As a person who spent 25 years in the newspaper business, I know how difficult it is to find a balance in news stories, especially in today’s climate.

My letter could have seemed condescending, but I assure you that was not my intent.

My anger is primarily at AP, an organization that used to report news. All too often today, articles are laced with bias. Sad, but true.

George Harrell

I very much enjoyed your “Reason” section “Bias or Fact?” Thank YOU ALL.

I hope the Associated Press folk learned from your efforts.

In the last 8 months to a year, I found myself more often than not reading a “news report” that contained so many emotional words making statements as if they were fact when fact was an invention of the writer’s imagination.

I would get about two paragraphs into a “story,” find myself wondering “what the heck?” only to look at the byline and finding it was “Associated Press.”

I have come to presume anything generated by the Associated Press is suspect, written with intention to brainwash rather than inform.

You presented a perfect example with the rebuttal by Mr. Daniszewski to the piece on Trump’s first news conference.

The reporter used nothing but adjectives dripping with emotion when “The news conference was dramatic, contentious and something of a sensation to the correspondents who cover ….” actually painted the picture of astounded/surprised pool reporters. (Get AP to write more like Daniszewski and I might read their stories more often. Otherwise, the T-U is wasting it’s subscription funding.)

I feel I can relax when I read the Times-Union-generated stories.

Some swing left, some swing right, but, in my opinion, do so with the flavor of the subject of the stories. …

I remain doubtful the Associated Press is redeemable to the ranks of journalism.

I encourage to look for alternative reports from those who know the “five Ws.”

Tim Houghtaling, San Mateo

I read your article in the Sunday Times-Union, “Bias or fact?” and believed that the Times-Union really is interested in covering the news fairly and from both sides of the political spectrum.

Then I opened up the Monday paper. There isn’t much in the paper on Mondays, so I could read it cover to cover.

On the front page you had the story about President Trump’s wiretap claim, saying it was unsubstantiated by the AP reporter.

Yet on Fox News, Mr. [Joe] Klein read off quotes from the New York Times and Washington Post that substantiated Trump’s claims during the election process.

The new travel ban legislation or order was somewhere on the bottom of the paper that was hard to find.

Let’s not stop there. How about on Page 6 with the cartoon depiction of Melania as an overweight frumpy lady?

We haven’t had a more elegant looking First Lady since Jackie Kennedy. Melania is far from frumpy looking. Can you imagine the reprisals if you had put Michelle Obama portrayed like that? Let’s go on.

Then on Page 8 you used an AP reporter (unidentified) who compared Trump to Stalin. Believe me, that reporter does not know what Stalin did during World War II. My family came as immigrants from Latvia to escape Stalin’s persecutions.

My mother saw all of her brothers killed because they were anti-Communist. … We don’t realize how fortunate we are to live in a country that allows freedom of speech and expression.

But the pendulum in the media has swung to the left where the conservatives in this country feel under attack.

Don’t join that group, Florida Times-Union. Your readership will grow and you will prosper if you keep us in mind to avoid the far left press.

Edie Moulton

I applaud your hard work to craft the well-detailed and lengthy article in the Sunday Times-Union.

I must admit that when I saw your invitation (challenge?) to the readers last week, I was a bit skeptical and feared that the end game would be to rationalize the right to reflect a bias in the T-U’s news and opinion pages. It seems to me that you were very balanced in your observations and responses to the readers who responded to your challenge.

As a subscriber to both local Morris Publishing newspapers (T-U and the St. Augustine Record), I wish the Record would make an attempt to emulate the T-U by ensuring that headlines, story content and opinion pieces are crafted and presented in an comparable objective manner. Two thumbs up to you and the T-U and, please, continue the objective reporting.

Greg Letnaunchyn

Have been a subscriber to Times-Union every day of the week for quite a few years now. This paper does a good job staying objective and giving us both sides of the story. Certainly have never seen the bullying and threats that have been flying off the wall since Clinton lost. There was one sentence that I really don’t agree with when you stated “I had promised you that Times-Union journalists, like those of most mainstream newspapers, adhere to a code of ethics that demands accuracy, fairness and impartiality.”

I had to laugh that “most” adhere to a code of ethics — CNN, Wall Street Journal, N.Y. Times — (I could keep going) are so far to the left in their reporting it is unreal. I especially love their poll numbers — they are so made up to reflect what they are trying to get people to believe.

They go out and ask a handful of extreme Democrats, then state “these numbers show Americans etc., etc.”

It would be nice to see both sides so I could make up my own mind, but that rarely happens.

Maybe what is printed is not total lies, but what is left out of print is just as wrong.

The articles Eileen Kelley wrote on John Keane that helped take him down and out of office were right to the point and factual.

Good example of how reporting should be done and rarely is.

Vicki Deatherage

That was an amazing article that you wrote trying to convince some readers that you were not biased in the reporting.

While I can hope that you clearly explained each perceived slight, I’m guessing that person has a hardened shell to any explanation. But you tried! I read the paper every day, as does my 93-year-old mother. We think you are doing a great job. Our take is that if Trump wants more positive reporting, he needs to give his job a more positive effort. Tweeting cutting remarks in the early-morning hours is not exactly presidential material to report on.

Keep on reporting. We will always be reading.

Martha Hellmuth

Bully for the FTU and thanks for allowing readers to respond to the left or right bias perceptions we have about the paper’s reporting. I like your “if you’ve stayed with us this long” comment at the end of the very lengthy article.

It’s nice you gave us credit for persevering.

Most of my friends and I think the tendency of the editorial group is to lean slightly to the left or liberal side, although it’s not nearly as severe as the national media’s bias.

I think the FTU is usually closer to the middle, and overall gives a fair view, although I agree the headlines sometimes are misleading. It must be somewhat of a tightrope for the editorial board with Mr. Morris’ family appearing to be quite conservative. I appreciate the FTU and your battles with the various political entities in the sunshine law concerns. It’s good to have someone looking after our interests.

I’ve been a subscriber since December 1973 and hope to continue, although I’m concerned the continued price increases may soon make it unreasonable. I’m sure it’s tough with declining readership and reduced ad income.

Bill Gowen

Thank you for your latest article, “Bias or Fact?” It was timely and informative.

I’ve been a T-U subscriber for 42 years and I noticed a conservative bent from the beginning. Over the years I’ve found that the T-U is still conservative, but has shown a more balanced approach to presenting progressive views over the past 10 to 15 years. For this, I am grateful to you and others on the editorial board. I’ve felt more confidence in the newspaper. …

Facts set us free to use our intelligence and make wise choices. Readers count on the T-U for facts and not bias, even when those facts may be troubling.

Bonnie McCullar