Readers tell us their opinions of flu, politics, bear stories

Public Editor

October 29, 2006

Public Editor Paul Moore was on vacation last week, but readers were as busy as ever telling him what they liked and didn't like on the pages of The Sun. Here is a sampling of their e-mail comments:

The flu pandemic

Linell Smith's impressive special report on the impact of a the 1918 flu pandemic and an accompanying package of internet material on The Sun's Web site won rave reviews.

The comments of Beverly Ann Weiman, whose grandmother lived through the epidemic, were typical. "Thank you so much for this article. I hope it brings a deeper appreciation for the generation that had to live through such a horrible disease," she wrote.

Hank Amann, a Baltimore native who now lives in Richmond, wrote: "I just wanted to tell you that this is one of the best examples of quality journalism that I have ever read."

Politics

A Sun article that outed a long-time Republican Party operative in Baltimore who presented himself on a television campaign advertisement as a Democrat fed up with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley drew sharp criticism from some readers. Others couldn't understand the fuss.

Commenting on the mention in the article of a legal problem of the man's son, one reader wrote: "To mention [the] juvenile son is ridiculous. I don't know how you can sleep at night and I surely don't know how you can look yourself in the mirror - ever. ... "

But another reader wrote: "I do not understand why those who are against O'Malley are so upset about this story - when [he] put his face on TV he should have realized that his past would come back to haunt him. ... "

Two other pieces in last Wednesday's paper - one a story about a 19-year-old O'Malley drunken-driving charge (he was acquitted) and the other a column item about state staffers babysitting Ehrlich's kids - produced some predictable crossfire.

"What's the real story here? Ehrlich campaign desperation reaches new low?" asked reader Kris Hoffman about the O'Malley article. And Kathleen Davies had this comment on the Ehrlich article: "You are worried about government employees baby-sitting while on the clock? I am worried about why The Sun is paying YOU to investigate such nonsense."

The bear facts

Bear hunting is good sport to some, but finding images of bloody bears on the sports page is less appealing to others.

"I feel confident in saying that many of our readers oppose the hunt itself, and many others ... would prefer not to see gory pictures of hunted bears in the sports section of your newspaper," said Garrett LeCron of Annapolis. "Hopefully, you will consider this view before running any more such pictures and articles."

"I arrived at the breakfast table to find my 9-year-old son in tears," wrote reader Joe Williams. "He is a huge sports fan, and, as usual, he had been reading the Sun sports page during breakfast. However, I am confident that he did not expect to see pictures of dead, hunted bears splayed throughout today's sports pages. ... I have a hard time understanding how this bear hunt ... qualifies as sports coverage and an even harder time understanding why it's necessary to supplement such coverage with gruesome pictures of the aftermath."

Doing something right

More often than The Sun's most passionate critics might find credible, readers write to tell us we did something right when navigating the tricky shoals of public controversy.

"The article could not have been fairer to either side," wrote Mike Morin about an article by reporter Anica Butler on a lawsuit over allegations of housing fraud. "It covered a difficult, complicated issue well and in enough depth that a reader could understand the basics of the allegations."

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