News council denounces paper for reader survey
MINNESOTA — The Minnesota News Council held a public hearing in late April denouncing the Worthington Daily Globe for the way it conducted a survey on readers’ opinions about minorities.
Last fall the Globe posed the question, “Has Worthington been enhanced by the recent influx of minority groups” and asked readers to send in their opinions.
The newspaper published a few of the 250 responses, some of which were derogatory to minorities, under the headline “81 percent don’t like minorities.”
Three readers complained to the news council that the survey misrepresented the views of the community and that the Globe refused to print letters to the editor criticizing the survey.
The news council, a private non-profit organization, has no statutory authority or enforcement powers but holds public hearings on citizen complaints against the media as an alternative to lawsuits. It “upheld” the complaints criticizing the survey and the alleged refusal to publish the letters.
Carl Gustin, managing editor of the Globe, said that the newspaper refused to participate in the hearing, which he termed a “kangaroo court.” He said the council’s decision means nothing because it has no authority. “If the council has been created by some sort of legislation we might have to deal with them.”
Executive director Gary Gilson said the council provides a way to address journalistic standards and to provide the public with a way of holding the media accountable without going to court. The council publicizes its decisions throughout the state. Gilson said the media are encouraged to take part in the hearing and present a defense.
The Minnesota News Council is one of four news council type organizations in the United States.