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Columbia Missourian

DEAR READER: Missourian Readers Board poses some good questions

By Tom Warhover
December 4, 2009 | 4:36 p.m. CST

Dear Reader,

The Missourian Readers Board has been busy. Or I should say it has been keeping me busy.

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I like it that way.

The board is an eclectic group of 10 Columbians who have volunteered to gather once a month and give feedback to Missourian staff. They’re a smart, thoughtful bunch. Among the questions and comments raised Tuesday:

When do you say “enough is enough”?

The example given: the smoking ban.

Restaurant-goers were banned from lighting up almost three years ago. A board member said he was contacted last month about a story in the works on the issue.

What’s left to say? he asks.

Good question.

Regurgitating the arguments isn’t enough. The reporter will need to find something new.

Can you read this?

Several members agreed that the typeface is too hard to read in Vox, the Missourian’s weekly city magazine.

Too light, they said. Too small. Or both.

They're right.

Changing the body type of Vox isn't an easy switch, but the editorial directors are working on it. With any luck, you'll see a change early next year.

Color in some ads makes for tough reading, too, board members said.

I can't speak to advertising; that's general manager Dan Potter's department. He was there, though, and taking notes.

Make meaning of the Kahler deaths.

One board member applauded the Missourian's early efforts in putting context and sensitivity around the deaths of Karen Kahler and her two daughters. (Kahler's grandmother died Wednesday.)

She feared an inevitable media circus around such a sensational crime.

Board members wanted to know whether the newspaper would continue to interview students and why. They offered story ideas to understand domestic abuse. One suggested concentrating on abusive relationships among teens, where patterns might be changed.

They wanted more, of a certain kind of story, from the Missourian.

The to-do list is longer.

I need to consider some other ways of collecting calendar items; to beware of collecting only it's-all-wonderful-in-Columbia items in a "Missourian encyclopedia" type project yet to be published; and to take note of privacy concerns while developing new Web features.

More work.

I like it that way.

Tom