Tuesday, July 05, 2011

That’s just the way that story was written

“Old traditions meet new one,” was the headline of our top story in the Tuesday, July 5 edition of the Danville Register & Bee.
The story, written by Denice Thibodeau and photographed by Steven Mantilla, was about the Fourth of July festivities that took place Monday at the Crossing at the Dan. There was a wide variety of activities for people of all ages and interests.

One reader, though, didn’t like the coverage given to the display of military memorabilia at the Pepsi Building presented by local veterans. While nearly half the story in Tuesday’s newspaper was about the display, that half was on the story jump (page A8) instead of on the front page.

He was especially disappointed that the hot dog eating contest dominated the front page.

Anyone who reads this newspaper’s coverage of Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the Danville-Pittsylvania County Veterans Memorial knows we don’t shy away from covering the people who have served our country. On Monday, July 4, the front page had a story about county native and war veteran Clyde East, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel.

But that coverage wasn’t the issue; what the reader was angry about was the lack of coverage of the military display Monday at the Pepsi Building.
“I had to trim a lot,” Thibodeau told me. “There was a lot going on over there.”

Still, Thibodeau was impressed by what she saw at the Pepsi Building.

That said, if we had sent 100 reporters over to the Crossing Monday, we would have gotten 100 different stories — including many that highlighted and even featured what was on display at the Pepsi Building.

It just didn’t happen that way. Instead, Thibodeau’s focus was elsewhere.

To all the local veterans who feel like we should have given more attention, space and photographs to what was happening at the Pepsi Building, I ask you to judge our coverage of veterans based on all the stories that we write —  not just on this particular event.

Highlighting the hot dog eating contest wasn’t an attempt to slight other aspects of the city’s Fourth of July celebration. It’s just the way that particular story turned out.

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