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'Reform, objectively' -- but obscured

Oped319 The debate over healthcare legislation draws quite a bit of reader comment. A Q&A article Friday, "Reform, objectively," was no exception, except, unfortunately, the reaction was for a different reason.

An illustration that was intended to fade into the background of the article on the Op-Ed page instead was so dark that it blocked out a fair portion of the text.

Callers were frustrated:

“The article seems like it would be good to read except that you have put an eagle over the printing. It’s dark. Doesn’t make sense.”

“You’re making your Op-Ed page too decorative, which causes print to be unreadable. It’s very difficult.”

“The medical symbol interferes with reading the article. If you want us to read it, don’t make it hard.”

The illustration, by Wes Bausmith, is clever. It’s a takeoff on the caduceus, a symbol commonly used for medicine. But instead of intertwined snakes on the staff, it has two question marks.

Michael Whitley, assistant managing editor for design, said it was simply a mistake. The percentage of black used in the illustration was too high, he said, which caused it to print much darker than intended. The designer had made a proof of the page, but the light printout appeared to be fine. Checking it Friday on another proofer, after the page was published, revealed it to be too dark.

In the article, Jon Healey answers some questions about the healthcare overhaul with answers drawn mainly from the text of the Senate-passed healthcare bill, HR 3590, and the proposed reconciliation bill, HR 4872. The full article, which includes more questions and answers than were published in print, can be found at

--Deirdre Edgar

Twitter: @LATreadersrep

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