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NEWSPAPERS have a duty to give balanced news reports, but where should balance lie in other parts of the paper?
SOMETIMES in journalism it is quite easy to get carried away. If a story is playing big in other newspapers and on television, you can get caught up in that wave. The story sort of takes on a tone of its own – it's not mass hysteria, but perhaps mass hype, and it is part of our job to defend against that and not to fall in to the trap.
NEWSPAPERS can often face the difficult balancing act of giving readers information in such detail that they are left in no doubt as to the facts of a story, and at the same time protecting readers from offensive and disturbing material.
'MESSENGER down, messenger down; suspected gunshot wounds." I received a number of complaints (I have avoided the word avalanche) about a story last week headlined "Skiing is doomed, so enjoy it while it lasts".
THERE are a number of readers who keep a very close eye on our grammar. That is a good thing and we are quite happy, in fact probably a wee bit flattered, to be put under such scrutiny.
ONE of the main reasons for starting this column was to establish a real, open dialogue with readers. However, very often when dealing with complaints, I seem to be simply explaining why things cannot change, or why we do not think they should change, and frankly that gets a bit depressing.
IHAVE lived and worked in Scotland for the vast majority of my life and my career as a journalist, and I have never come across this issue before. I have to say it genuinely surprised me. It was raised by Anne Ross, who said that she was "dumbfounded" that The Scotsman was regularly making this mistake. It concerns the spelling of Scottish surnames.
IT IS probably not a good thing if we are driving our readers mad, so when we receive a letter saying we are doing exactly that, we sit up and take notice.
THERE have been suggestions that the furore surrounding Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand and the BBC was simply a vindictive onslaught by the media, envious of Ross's multi-million-pound salary and the middle-class- saturated BBC's protected status.
THE e-mail is simply signed Judy Steel, Aikwood Tower, but it is of course from Lady Steel, wife of Sir David Steel – Baron Steel of Aikwood. Sir David is the former presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament and former leader of the Liberal Party.
SOMETIMES, when old-fashioned newspaper hacks like me gather in darkened corners to reminisce and take stock of our present-day business, there are mutterings about "the tyranny of design". The phrase is delivered in the manner of Billy Bones saying, "the curse of the black spot", and the response is always a muted, "It's never just about the words any more". Yes, it probably is a bit sad, and there are more important things in the world, but at least it shows we care
THERE is an expression: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck.
THIS week's theme, it would appear from my cyber-mailbag, is accuracy. And I'm probably going to end up saying something I shouldn't.
SOMETIMES we forget to question the way we do things. We just carry on doing what we do in the accepted orthodoxy. Luckily, we have readers who question the way we do things. Jenny MacLaren wrote in to give some feedback on the changes we have made to the paper, and brought up an issue that is in the changed paper but was also a feature of the paper before the revamp.
THERE may be a couple of defences left open to us after a complaint from Robert Miller-Bakewell, but neither of them are very convincing. The fact is we made quite a serious error. We have to be seen to be above questions of partiality or deference to powerful factions, and in this case we were not.
TRICKY business, change. A widely held view is that people don't like change and are resistant to it. It alters comfort zones and people can feel like they are losing something they have become familiar with. But it is impossible to improve anything without changing it.
IF A reader writes a letter to the Editor that criticises one of our journalists by name, should the letter be published as is, or should the name of the journalist be removed?