Letter: Journalism 101 suggested for Aegis

Headline on front page called misleading

January 25, 2012


A single disgruntled teacher makes a statement at a community meeting in Edgewood and The Aegis prints a "front page, above the fold" article that states "teachers want the Superintendent of schools to be gone." No surveys, no data, just one person's opinion was enough for The Ageis' editor to target Dr. Robert Tomback for attack.

Basic rules of journalism require that a topic sentence be supported by factual evidence. Yet, the entire article disproved both the misleading headline and the teacher's misplaced attack. Teachers deserve pay raises and have every right to be frustrated over a salary structure that has not improved in years. Their union leader's recent mishandling of County Executive Craig's holiday bonus has added to their frustrations. None of this was Dr. Tomback's doing.

Last year Dr. Tomback requested a 3 percent pay raise for teachers that was not funded by the County. Mr. Robert Fritsch told the teacher that Dr. Tomback's proposal for this year focused "a majority of the budget on salary increases for teachers." Sounds like the disgruntled teacher did not do her homework.

It is a basic tenet of a free society that individuals can express their opinions and point the finger of blame even when their accusations are unfounded and misplaced. News reporters and their editors have a greater responsibility. Today, the phrase "fair and balance" is often used and much abused in news reporting. The Aegis should ponder this concept the next time they choose to lead with a spurious headline. The Aegis' readers and the citizens of Harford County deserve nothing less.

Dean Terry

Bel Air

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