Readers' Representative Journal

A conversation on newsroom ethics and standards

« Previous Post | Readers' Representative Journal Home | Next Post »

Readers question play of Mitt Romney, Neil Armstrong stories

A1-8.26.12The front page of Sunday's Times featured a large profile of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a preview to the GOP National Convention, which was to begin Monday.

A similar profile of President Obama is scheduled for this coming Sunday, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.

But some readers thought another article should have been the main story of the day -- the obituary of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

The comments ran along these lines:

"As a registered Republican and a 60+ year reader of the Los Angeles Times I am offended and outraged that a picture of Mitt Romney (a politician!) should be the front main story this morning rather than Neil Armstrong," wrote Carolyn Zwirn of Los Angeles. "Neil Armstrong was a hero in every sense of the word: a brave, courageous and honorable man over whom you chose a politician."

"The world lost a hero in Neil Armstrong. That one small step for man he took  43 years ago just took a step backward when you choose to feature a presidential candidate above someone who reached for the stars, achieved it and then came home," emailed Maureen Hilt of Granada Hills.

"I was frankly appalled, but not surprised, to see the front page of the L.A. Times today with the main story not about a man who actually accomplished a lot for us in his lifetime, Neil Armstrong, but instead, a large image of a politician," said Paul J. Burke of Palmdale.

"What poor judgment to put a political candidate so prominently on the front page above Neil Armstrong, a national hero for all times to come! What were you thinking?" emailed Jorg and Anke Raue of Rancho Palos Verdes.

Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin explained:

"Every day, Times editors assemble a front page intended to reflect the most interesting and important stories of the day. Last Saturday, editors made a varied selection for the Sunday front page that included an analysis of a $1-billion jury verdict in favor of Apple Inc. in an intellectual property case and a profile of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the eve of his party’s nominating convention.

"On Saturday afternoon, word of the unexpected death of astronaut Neil Armstrong added another story to the mix.

"Designers redrew the page to display an Armstrong obituary on the right-hand side, accompanied by a photograph of a jubilant Armstrong in the Apollo 11 lunar module and an image of The Times’ front page of July 21, 1969, reporting on the moon landing.

"The obituary was positioned lower on the page than the Romney profile. Some readers took this as a slap at Armstrong or a sign that we deemed his accomplishments to be lesser than Romney's. No such judgment was intended.

"The obituary, which ran 2,400 words, was a comprehensive account of Armstrong's life and achievements, generously illustrated with historic photos. The article was rigorously researched and written in advance by the late Times staff writer Eric Malnic, an aviation expert. Times staff writer Valerie J. Nelson updated and expanded on the original article on deadline Saturday.

"In its entirety, the Armstrong package did justice to a historic figure."

-- Deirdre Edgar

Photo: Front page of Aug. 26, 2012. Credit: Los Angeles Times

 

 
Post a comment
If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate.
Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In





Comments (5)

I haven't worked on a daily paper in almost 40 years, but I still know that anyone with a dram of actual news sense would have recognized Armstrong's passing as way, way more "interesting and important" than one more rehashed, remixed, turgid run-through of the known facts on Romney - or Obama, for that matter. Sounds like m.e. Marc Duvoisin believes nobody'll ever buy a copy of the LA Times except political wonks who can expense it - that nobody reads news just to satisfy free-ranging curiosity. "News" for him may be what it is for the folks at Fox, just feed for people with calcified points of view of maintenance doses of their world view. I don't know how long any newspaper can last without a sense of what real people care about.

What was also saddening was that the President did not order that flags be flown at half staff either.

Let's what the Times' editors consider important: A bland, above-the-fold yawner on Mitt Romney or a below-the-fold obit of one of America's greatest heroes. New Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin lays a gigantic egg in one of his first Sunday front pages!

Sounds like the LA Times set the Front Page and everyone split before the news arrived that Armstrong had passed, leaving an Intern to make the final layout.

The reason the Times is losing readership is that it manipulates the news instead of covering the news. It ignores health and safety news that the public wants and ignores news their corporate sponsors abhor, whether it is nuclear radiation leaks at San Onofrio or the number of driving deaths per month in LA County.

To get followers the LA Times needs the courage to scrutinize Los Angeles' politics, especially its out-of-control public safety service officer stranglehold of American local government and its citizenry.

The Times should spearhead community improvement concepts like seniors with experience should be impaneled as members of Citizen Evaluation Committees who advise the public and its politicians of ways to improve government service and communication within the polity.

Rolling a hook ladder truck because someone is choking on a pretzel is one kind of public safety service officer abuse and the PD's exorbitant retirement benefits, especially for those involved in citizen murders, is outrageous and counter-productive.

Read the Comments accompanying a story about LAPD brutality. No one is surprised. It is what LA stands for and the Times doesn't have the cojones to attack such wretched public financed behavior.

If the Times wants readers, give them citizen friendly information. It doesn't matter when or how often, it depends on content and delivery...

Everyone in LA is rooting for you to succeed. You just have to stick your head out and see what's goin' on...
Thomas Pleasure

Mr. Duvoisin;
I agree with Carolyn Zwirn and the others you apparently are trying to snow regarding your failure to do a proper editorial job by concentrating -- entirely -- on the Armstrong obit. Your explanations as to what and why you did what you did vis a vis Romney and Armstrong's placement on the page is pure rationalization. When I saw the massive changes to the editorial board of the Times, I was heartened because I had hope for the future of the paper which has been sinking steadily lower for many years.

Blogging is not journalism, Mr. Duvoisin, and kids on computers can never take the place of seasoned reporters and editors. I hope the laziness will discontinue and a professional standard of journalism will return to the Los Angeles Times eliminating its current image as a laughing stock.


This is the backup site for The Los Angeles Times. We'll post news and information if latimes.com becomes inoperable or inaccessible.

LATEST
this is a test breaking news post |  April 16, 2013, 1:45 pm »


CONTACT

Have a story tip?

Please send to newstips@latimes.com.

Can I call someone with news?

Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


LAT ON TWITTER