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Tom Frazier: The readers speak up -- follow-up

Tom Frazier
Tom Frazier

This is the second half of Sun Dog's synopsis of reader comments. Last week, the comments centered on headlines and letters to the editor.

This week will highlight uncovered events and proofreading.

Uncovered events. The list is extensive.

Open Cockpit Day at the Castle Air Museum.

The Atwater Garden Club

Home and garden show at the Merced fairgrounds

Speeches by Kathy Kelly, a renowned peace activist

There's more, but the best summary was probably written by Dave Hetland, "It would be nice if the Sun-Star could provide groups with some feedback as to what they could do to improve their chances of having their activities publicized in the paper. After all, the Sun-Star has claimed on more than one occasion that it is a 'local' paper and the emphasis is on 'local' stories. Many of us don't feel that's the case."

Another writer said the same thing, only a bit more pointedly, "How hard would it be to develop a policy about community events that people can access and understand? Why should it be a big mystery and be dependent on 'connecting' with the right person? Why should people who work hard on worthy community events be made to beg and hound Sun-Star staff for coverage?"

He went on to say, "I still volunteer, but I will have nothing to do with dealing with the Sun-Star. That's a shame. I know a lot of people in this community and I never hesitate to comment on what a very user unfriendly publication it is."

Executive Editor Mike Tharp, from Baghdad, feels we, the readers, are part of the problem: "The most common reason events don't get covered is that we don't get the heads-up in time; a day or two ahead simply won't work for us. A week is preferable."

Sun Dog doesn't totally buy that -- but it's hard to know for sure. But, I do think we should take Mike up on his followup offer. He says, "if every social organization in the county e-mailed Connie (Hodges at chodges@mercedsun-star.com) with contact numbers and people, along with its calendar out as far as is planned, that'd help us get more in."

Finally, readers unloaded about common "missteaks" that seem to plague most newspapers -- misspelling, incorrect words and the like.

I suspect I'd hear about staff cuts, "We used to have four more people on the copy desk" -- if I asked.

But I can't help wonder if there is a system that "tracks" what reporters and editors are involved with these faux pas.

And what happens, if anything, to chronic offenders?

Lastly, there were many good suggestions. I've selected one as my favorite -- tracking our politicians.

"I would like to know how my politicians vote on significant state and federal legislation. When a bill is passed in Congress and reported in the Sun-Star, why not let us know how Cardoza, Boxer, and Feinstein weighed in? And the same at the state level. I want to know when Galgiani and Denham vote for or against a bill. As it is now, it takes me awhile to track down my representatives' voting records. The Sun-Star could provide a public service to all readers by making this information available in a timely fashion." -- Dave Hetland.

Sun Dog thanks all the readers who sent me their thoughts.

I hope "they" are listening.

Tom Frazier writes Sun Dog and can be reached at sundog@promessage.com.

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