How Much Is Too Much?

I was surfing today and was somewhat surprised to see among the most commented stories on the website is one written a week ago about Southern Illinois head football coach Dale Lennon.

It should be noted that since revamping the AreaVoices site, recent articles aren’t allowing comments until a few kinks are worked out on our end. So there’s a reason a story from a week ago is still among the most commented.

However, 11 comments on a story like the Lennon one shocked me, so I figured I’d take a look at them.

No surprise at all that some of the 11 liked the story and some of the 11 hated it.

Those opposed to a story on a former area coach who now leads what is expected to be the top program in the conference that another local college plays in say that Lennon is winning with the former coach’s players (a fair argument, in my opinion). Another person writes that The Forum isn’t “objective towards NDSU.”

When talking to readers, most are generally satisfied with the content. But a newspaper is in the public eye, so everyone has something they would do differently with it, myself included.

And this is not an NDSU thing. Actually, more often than not, talk of a “bias” one way or the other is usually regarding our high school coverage.

Anyone who has worked at a newspaper long enough has taken the phone calls. “The Forum favors such-and-such high school” or “The Forum is biased against such-and-such high school.” I’ve been in the office and gotten each of those calls about the same high school on the same day.

You get a few at the college level too, but not that many.

What is interesting about this particular instance is the timing of it. The Lennon story ran stripped on the sports cover on Monday, Aug. 9. The previous three days starting Thursday, Aug. 6, The Forum’s sports section centerpieced NDSU football.

After three straight days of centerpiecing NDSU football, at least one person commenting said the Lennon story shows that The Forum is biased against NDSU.

Examples like this illustrate what editors and reporters have known for a long time: There simply isn’t enough coverage to satisfy readers. A four-page section entirely about NDSU football (undoubtedly the biggest beat The Forum has during the fall) would have some fans asking for six pages, while other subscribers will say that there’s too much Bison football in the newspaper.

I’m the same way. I like reading about the Minnesota Twins. Do I wish the Minneapolis Star Tribune had even more of the already outstanding coverage that they provide? Of course.

As far as The Forum is concerned, it’s important we continue to recognize what the biggest beats are, while at the same time striking a balance.

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