Editor:

Please consider enrolling your staff in some brush up classes in news writing and in newspaper ethics.

In the last week, you published two articles relating to candidates for supervisor for the Third District in Los Angeles County. In each, the content of headlines and copy and story placement are, in the opinion of this former journalism and communication professor, skewed to present one candidate in a more favorable way than the others. The photos you chose for each are of Bobby Shriver, with one showing candidate Sheila Kuehl looking up from a distance, not looking happy, at the candidates’ table during a debate while Mr. Shriver speaks at the microphone, looking confident. There were no photos of the other candidates in this election, although each candidate was a part of the events or issues you’re writing about.

The news story on March 26 (“Shriver takes fundraising lead in supervisor race”) features Mr. Shriver in the first six paragraphs, with no mention of the others, although the story is about campaign fundraising, which involves them all. Then, in paragraph seven, you introduce Kuehl, but only, it appears, to show how inadequate her fundraising has been compared to Mr. Shriver. You consciously or unconsciously do this by featuring the prominent celebrities who have contributed to Mr. Shriver before you write about Ms. Kuehl.

Are you aware that by featuring only photos of Mr. Shriver, you are calling him to the attention of readers at the expense of the others, building his name recognition at the others’ expense? Responsible journalism would have utilized photos with all of the candidates. If the use of only Mr. Shriver’s photo was not done in ignorance of basic principles of journalism, then you ought to tell your readers if you are a community newspaper, presenting the news without bias, or a publication representing a commercial or political group or interest. There’s nothing wrong with being the latter, but this city deserves a local source to present the news objectively and not selectively.

 

Dolores Sloan

Santa Monica

 

Print Friendly