Last Saturday we ran a page one photo of protesters at a Keep the Peace rally in Ogden in support of Matthew David Stewart.
Two of the protesters in the photo were wearing POW-MIA shirts. This irritated a number of readers, especially those associated with the movement.
Some wanted us to run a correction, saying that the POW-MIA campaign was not associated in any way with the rally supporting the man accused of killing a police officer.
Our policy is generally not to run corrections or clarifications regarding information we didn't report.
In this case, rather than a correction, the better route probably would have been to note in the story that there was no connection between the POW movement and the protest.
We can't control what people wear to a rally. If they had been wearing Weber State shirts, we wouldn't consider running a correction to indicate Weber State University was not associated with the rally. The reason for such a policy is because it can set a wide-ranging precedent.
In this case, though, the selection of the POW-MIA shirts was not coincidental. The protesters rallied under the theme that Stewart is a "POW: Prisoner of War in the War on Drugs." So the selection of the shirts was intentional.
That makes the concern of veterans understandable.
HEADLINE MATTERS: Another group upset at recent news coverage were some trailer park residents. They felt insulted by the headline on a May 2 story regarding the arrests of four people for a series of auto burglaries in Weber County. The headline in the print edition read: "Quartet of 'trailer-dwelling doper lowlifes' arrested."
The quote describing the suspects as "trailer-dwelling doper lowlifes" came from Weber County Sheriff's Lt. Doug Coleman, who made some other colorful comments when speaking about the arrests to a Standard-Examiner reporter. Such as: "While they are predators, they are opportunistic predators." And in describing the group as not well organized, he said, "Calling them a ring makes them sound like they have some type of brain."
Some journalism purists say newspapers should avoid using quotes in headlines because readers tend not to notice them. They instead read the headlines as direct statements made by the writer.
That seemed to be the case with a number of people I talked to who assumed the newspaper was the one categorizing trailer dwellers in a negative manner, rather than the law officer.
Still, one function of a headline is to "market" the story to readers, while emphasizing the most important elements included in the story. All this in four or five words.
When a public official or politician says something colorful, outrageous or humorous, the headline writer should find a way to emphasize that. It is almost an obligation. The public has a right to know what their officials are saying and thinking (or not thinking, as is sometimes the case.) Using a direct quote, whether it is one word or a phrase, sometimes is the best way to accomplish that.
Personally, I find it refreshing when officials are honest and use every-day language when briefing the press. It not only humanizes them, but it cuts through the bureaucratic language that has become more and more commonplace.
Andy Howell is executive editor. He can be reached at 801-625-4210 or email@example.com.