Saturday, January 25, 2003

OmbudSaturday: a partial roundup of ombudsman columns

# The Washington Post: Michael Getler reports that an inaccurate story in The Post, which reported that “"National security adviser Condoleezza Rice took a rare central role in a domestic debate within the White House and helped persuade President Bush to publicly condemn race-conscious admissions policies at the University of Michigan," prompted Rice to "put out a statement saying, in part, that she agreed with the president's position, ‘which emphasizes the need for diversity and recognizes the continued legacy of racial prejudice, and the need to fight it.' But, she added, 'I believe that while race-neutral means are preferable, it is appropriate to use race as one factor among others in achieving a diverse student body.’"

# The Salt Lake Tribune: Connie Coyne has had it with the Raelians. She acknowledges that “covering a group whose leader sports Star Trek-like uniforms can be a fun diversion. But this latest round of stories is too much. There, I have said it: No more Raelian stories until this group offers some kind of proof about its claims.” She offers her “ personal theory on why this group is getting so much coverage: It's that biologist's teeth. The woman Raelian who heads Clonaid has a set of choppers that could serve as a poster for what will happen if you fail to brush and floss.” You know, I think Brigette Boisselier’s teeth match her eyes and hair quite nicely.

# Toronto Star: If you don’t want to see your name in print, then don’t talk to the press is the unstated lesson in Don Sellar’s piece about the Star’s violating the confidentiality of a dozen “weight-loss challenge participants, including a few who gave their weight or other sensitive personal information.” It seems that a screw-up resulted in publication of their names and hometowns along with their tales of “struggles and successes.”

# Orlando Sentinel: In its never ending quest to identify Americans by dubious categories of race and ethnicity, the “most recent census ... expanded that list to more than 200 groups -- combining race, ethnicity and nationality -- with Hispanics becoming the nation's second-largest population group.”

As Manning Pynn observes, “that complicates things because, although most Hispanics are white, that ethnic category can include people of all races.” What then do government bean counters call the nation’s largest population group? By what it is not, of course. They are Non-Hispanic whites.

Not The OmbudsGod. I refuse to answer questions relating more to the color of my skin than the content of my character. I’m a non-hyphenated American.

# The San Diego Union-Tribune: Gina Lubrano explains that:

When editors select what news stories they are going to use on a particular day, their only agenda is to keep readers informed. Sometimes, of course, they make mistakes and fail to give a story the prominence it deserves or give a story too much prominence.

Those human failings aside, you know when you read a news story that it has been written by a reporter, a professional whose purpose is to gather information, verify it and provide all sides of the story. Reporters know when writing news stories, they are to set their biases aside. And should their biases betray themselves, it is up to editors to make sure they are cut out of stories.

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