As noted at Romenesko, readers are not happy with the newspapers in Fayetteville and Wilmington, N.C., for their failure to run stories on John Kerry’s “botched joke.” And this letter to the editor wonders why The News & Observer put the story on 3A rather than the front page.
To be sure, some mention of Kerry’s remarks is appropriate. But this story was made for the incessant yammer of 24-hour cable news, not the careful consideration of print media. Any wire editor who pitched the story for the front page was likely confronted with these questions from colleagues: What would our coverage add that hasn’t been on television all day? And what real relevance do the comments have, given that Kerry isn’t running for anything this year?
The News & Observer still managed to get in an inadvertent jab at Kerry. It ran this promo on 1A to the story about Kerry’s apology. The photo used is the same one that Kerry supporters complained about during the 2004 campaign as an example of media bias. They said the mug shot made their man look like an oak tree and that the N&O should run a more flattering image. The photo desk came up with alternatives, and the “oak tree” shot was supposed to have been deleted. Alas, it ran again last week, and we probably haven’t seen the last of it on the pages of the Raleigh paper. File mugs are hard to kill.
For more on mugs and reader reactions, here’s a previous post on that topic regarding the Duke lacrosse case.
UPDATE: For more on the challenges covering election night, read this post by Dan Barkin, a deputy managing editor at the N&O.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Sure enough, the mug showed up again in the Saturday paper. It was part of a roundup of election winners and losers. Kerry was listed as a loser whose “feet wound up in his mouth.”
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Manning Pynn, the public editor at the Orlando Sentinel, examines similar complaints in this column, these from Republicans unhappy with a photo of an unhappy George W. Bush.