Friday, May 13, 2011

Tattoos and the front page

Why would the Post Register feature a man with a tattooed face on its front page?

After all, isn’t the front page reserved for the most important news of the day? No one would suggest that a feature about one of downtown Idaho Falls’ “characters” constitutes “important” news as it’s traditionally defined.

There is some method to our madness. First, we don’t necessarily see the front page as the gathering place just for “important” news. We consider it a representation of the best reporting and writing for that day, a place that provides an entry point to the rest of the paper. Sometimes, our choices seem trivial to some, particularly readers who understandably expect their front page to reflect a certain level of gravitas.

I thought Zach Kyle’s profile of Quentin Killian, aka “Troll”, in the front page of our May 10 edition was nicely written – an interesting look into one of the diverse personalities that make up eastern Idaho. I like our decision to put it on the front page.

But that view isn’t shared by everyone. One caller left me a message saying she’d taken the bundles of that day’s paper that had been delivered to a local school for use as part of our Newspapers in Education program and tossed it in the garbage. For others, the main objection was less the story than its placement on the front page.

We do want to surprise our readers from time to time. We want to provide access to the depth and diversity within our communities that aren’t always plainly obvious. We want to celebrate both the people who prefer living within traditional norms and those who press against the boundaries. And, we want to do those things without offending for the sake of a story.

We don’t survey our 70,000 readers every day to determine what stories they’d like to see on their front page. Instead a relative handful of people in our newsroom – a half-dozen or so – debate that daily selection, attempting to create something that represents the best we have to offer.

There can be little doubt that sometimes we miss the mark, though I don’t think the Killian story was one of those times. Ultimately, of course, it doesn’t matter what I think – what do you think? Give these questions some thought:

- What criteria should the Post Register use to decide what goes on its front page every day.

- Should we avoid nontraditional news stories and stick to the big news events of the day?

I’d like to hear from you – drop me a note at rplothow@postregister.com or jot down your thoughts and send them to 333 Northgate Mile, Idaho Falls, 83401.

11 comments:

  1. Though I feel that "Front Page News" be events of higher sociological impact and not based on how well its written, it is refreshing to see a growing diversity in our community. The celebration of this diversity brings about an idea: Why not dedicate a weekly column (in the community section) to this concept.

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  2. I thought it was a very interesting article and a very very eyecatching photo. Not everything that is on the frontpage has to be mainstream. There is not always a ton of news, so local stories are great! I find it boring to read the same oppressed news in our ever so oppressed area, so good for you for printing the things you do!! We are not all in the oppressed basket!! We like a variety of things to read!!

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  3. This was a great article and I am so glad to see the diversity in our area.

    I do have to say that I'm disgusted with the caller that threw away the school's newspapers. That is blatant censorship using their own personal bias and sets a horrible example for our children. It also wasted the school's money and ruins a perfect way to start conversation in the classroom.

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  4. I totally understand why the school threw away the newspapers. While "Troll" is merely advertising his business, not everyone is a fan of tattoos, nor do they want their children to think they are cool or newsworthy.

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  5. Although I'm conservative and will never sport a tattoo, I didn't find anything offensive about the article or the photo; neither was profane or explicit. If my young children had asked about it, I would have simply explained that "Troll" chose to get a tattoo on his face. Just because they see someone with a tattoo (which will inevitably happen anyway) doesn't mean my kids are going to go out and get their own ink as soon as they turn 18.

    As for the front page in general, hard news shouldn't always be the dominant element. I've enjoyed the downtown characters series as well as the history of Bonneville County series, and both are deservedly front-page material. I believe that the above-the-fold story should be one that will interest the majority of the readers, whether it be news or a feature.

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  6. I think that the teacher should've just disposed of the parts of the paper depicting the tattoo's. Since it is being shown in a classroom of many different kids being raised in many different ways, it was saving the school from angry parents. I know if my children came home from school saying they saw a picture of a guy with a tattoo on his face and they wanted one, I'd be raising hell with the school. There is such a variety of types of parents and teachers cannot be too carefull. I personally DO have a tattoo, but it is in a place that can be covered up with clothing. This "Troll" guy will never be able to get another job in his lifetime unless it is as a tattoo artist or in the circus! I think that by showcasing this on the front page you guys have made a huge mistake. This type of stuff DOES have the ability to influence our younger population and lead some to believe that a face tattoo will be "awesome" or "the coolest thing ever." What they don't realize is that if they DO get this type of tattoo, no employer will EVER hold them seriously let alone hire them. Please, in the future, place articles that have these type of pictures in another page....even the front of the West section is ok. Just so long as it isn't available to be viewed by every child that walks by a newspaper stand.

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  7. If you think that your child will want a tattoo because he/she sees one is rediculous. Your worse than the liberals who want to regulate everything in sight. When my daughter (8) saw the picture she giggled and said "why would he do that?" I said "People are very different as you should know now from all the youtube you watch."

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  8. christian buckinghamAugust 15, 2011 at 11:05 PM

    ha, the reason people like troll and myself have made such radical decisions is for just this reason.it incites thought.maybe no one will hire him, ive been his mentor for 6 years and i can tell you he doesnt care. nor do i. we both make an honest living and are good people with families.quentin is one of the most honest, hard working people ive ever known. hes married and raising two fine children and is a contributing member of the community.if you wouldnt hire him then he wouldnt want to work for you ,because if his physical appearance is how you judge him, then your a shallow ,bigotted person.who wants to be around that.
    you people keep worrying about me and troll and all the other "freaks". keep your children away from us and hide our pictures. meanwhile ,send them to camp with child molesters that look just like you.perhaps you should all thumb through that bible you profess to love so much and actually read what it says..

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  9. My name is Billy Shedd. I work with Quentin. He wasn't trying to promote the business, nor was he soliciting for an interview. He was approached and he offered his views and opinions along with answers to questions. Nuff said there. Anyone who says different is a fool. Who cares if someone has tattoos. I don't care. I am not a bigot. I should have a little resentment towards those who judge me, but I don't. They don't know me, and I am a better person not knowing them. If you don't want your kids to like tattoos or get tattoos, then handle it. Do whatcha gotta do and own the situation, but do it the right way. Don't give them reasons based on bigotry or your own personal prejudice. There's a real world out here people. Your kids are going to see it no matter how much you don't want them to.

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  10. Wow let's keep our minds as closed as possible and just burn all the news papers, Hell lets burn books to because they might have something bad in them also. What a world we live in

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  11. What fascinated me about the controversy over that article is that Troll is one of the best things that could happen to Downtown Idaho Falls - he is intelligent and eloquent in speech, and has very good, realistic ideas about how to improve things. If he were to run for a public office, I would vote for him without hesitation and would spread the word that others not only -should- but -need- to as well.

    My favorite part in the comments here is this: "This 'Troll' guy will never be able to get another job in his lifetime unless it is as a tattoo artist or in the circus!"

    I laughed and laughed and laughed for two reasons: First, this 'Toll' guy is a very accomplished tattoo artist in the area - I'm not part of the tattoo culture (I don't even have one) and -I- hear his name, and often, and it's always been very positively (not a single negative comment - no exaggeration).

    Second, I cannot imagine him wanting another job and certainly not after the blood, sweat and tears it took to get where he is to begin with!

    I don't think people realize that unlike the jobs most of us hold that come and go on a whim (either ours or our employer's) one cannot simply apply to be a tattoo artist...that it's something you really do have to want and something you have to invest yourself in completely.

    And that at that point, if an artist opts for a face, chest, ass, tit, tongue whatever tattoo that it's not simply a choice in what to do with one's body: It's as symbolic as the wedding ring many wear so proudly; it's a commitment in the fullest sense of the the word.

    Troll not being "hireable" because of that commitment...well I have to laugh. If he opts to leave the industry, he'll have the self-respect to refuse to work for any employer who can't understand that level of commitment, and I would be disappointed otherwise.

    Do I want my kids to get face tattoos? Nope, but I -do- want them to know this guy. He's not simply a "character" of Idaho Falls - he is someone I respect above most people in the city, and if after knowing him my kids want face tattoos to remind them what commitment truly means, I can get behind that decision.

    I certainly would rather my kids attempt to emulate this "Troll" guy than the woman who made the decision for an entire school because of her own biases, fears and ideas of morality. I hope that she has since thought about that decision and decided that maybe that wasn't her call to make. Something tells me she hasn't and didn't, but I can hope.

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