< Letters


Friday, September 24, 2010

BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is On the Media. I'm Brooke Gladstone.

BOB GARFIELD: And, I'm Bob Garfield, with a few of your letters. My interview last week with the editor and publisher of The Portland Press Herald drew a strong response. We called him about an apology he had written to readers who had objected to the September 11th front-page coverage of the end of Ramadan. The editor agreed with the critics. He wrote that the Ramadan reporting should have been balanced by coverage of the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Roughly half of those who wrote to OTM objected to my tone, in what admittedly became a testy exchange. For instance, Greg Maupai of Green Ponds, New Jersey wrote, quote, “I found your reporter’s interview of Richard Connor to be offensive. It was argumentative and akin to the journalistic rabblerousing so prevalent on the cable TV talking head shows I try to avoid by listening to quality radio shows instead.” Rolf Linder of Lexington, Kentucky felt likewise. Quote, “Bob Garfield was off base in the interview. He had an agenda, and it showed. It would have been more interesting if he had engaged his guest in a dialogue about how to balance real news reporting with public opinion.”

BROOKE GLADSTONE: But Edie Doty of Portland, Maine was one of many to jump to Bob’s defense. She wrote, quote, “I am a subscriber to The Portland Press Herald and I was appalled by Richard Connor’s apology. On the Media has taken nothing out of context. The questioning of Richard Connor is fair, and the reason the interviewer questions him harder is because Connor is denying what he quite plainly wrote. His apology does, indeed, state that the coverage of Ramadan should have been balanced with the coverage of 9/11.” She added, “For background, ten years ago, there were only a handful of Muslims in Maine. Portland has since resettled many Somali refugees, so a Ramadan ceremony of the size covered in the newspaper is indeed news. Connor, who is relatively new to Maine himself, had a golden opportunity to address the anti-Muslim hysteria sweeping the country and to appeal to people’s better selves. He blew it.”

BOB GARFIELD: Thanks to all who wrote in. Please keep your comments coming to Onthemedia@wnyc.org or post to our website at Onthemedia.org. And please, tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name.