The almost 10,600 readers who played ‘You be the Editor’ agreed with the Star’s judgment calls in two-thirds of cases.
By Kathy English for the Toronto Star
It was a highly unscientific, overly simplistic survey, to be sure.
Certainly, to draw any significant or serious conclusions about Toronto Star readers based on the results of my annual You be the Editor challenge, published in recent weeks, would be folly indeed.
But with almost 10,600 readers weighing in – a record number of responses – we can draw out some interesting information about readers’ perspectives on some of the many deadline judgments made by newsroom journalists 24/7.
The survey asked you to “be the editor” and determine whether to publish — or not publish — in 18 real-life questions of ethics, taste, style and usage faced by Star journalists in 2015. In each, I provided a reason to publish – or not. Given space restrictions, these reasons were highly simplistic, representing a narrow aspect of journalistic reasoning.
Not surprisingly, some readers told me their reasons for publishing or not publishing were somewhat different than the pro-and-con arguments I offered. That’s understandable and reflects the reality that newsroom debate about what to publish is always deeper and more wide-ranging than what this light exercise in journalistic decision-making can depict.
Each of these scenarios had evoked some measure of reader complaint to the public editor’s office and in many cases the arguments for not publishing represent the gist of reader concerns.
Survey results show that readers were aligned with the newsroom’s judgments in 12 of the 18 matters in question. That amounts to reader-newsroom consensus in 66 per cent of judgments — or two-thirds of the time.