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franklin county times

Comcast trial: 2001's biggest story … so far

By Staff
April 15, 2001
Coming down off the high of a big story can be tough on journalists, whose jobs call for them to both cover and edit a wealth of complex material, and on readers, who grow accustomed to seeing a story on a particular subject in their newspaper every day.
The verdicts in the Comcast trial are in. U.S. District Judge Tom Lee and prosecutors are moving on to other cases. Two of the defendants in the Comcast trial will try to reconstruct the lives they had before the indictments were filed. They were acquitted. At least one other defendant will have to decide whether to appeal a conviction. And still another defendant is looking at the potential of some serious jail time when sentencing takes place in June.
Masterful job
Suzanne Monk, The Meridian Star's managing editor and an experienced reporter  especially at covering the high tension and drama of major trials did a masterful job of covering the Comcast trial for this newspaper. Her reporting explained not only what happened at the trial, but also gave readers a behind-the-scenes look at the major players.
Her trial notes helped explain what the charges were all about and how these individuals came to be sitting in a federal courtroom in Meridian for almost three weeks in March and April 2001. Using perception, asking appropriate questions at appropriate times, she even gave us a "fashion report."
At trial, lawyers for both sides and defendants are often encouraged to wear clothes which convey subtle messages to jurors. Good reporters are attuned to the subtlety and adept at presenting it to readers, who can make their own judgments.
As editor of The Star, I am grateful to Suzanne for giving our readers a thorough, in-depth, thoughtful, insightful and darn interesting collection of stories about a very complicated trial. When a case involves conspiracy, money laundering, wire and mail fraud, a great deal of expertise is required to sort out what's truly important and what's just interesting.
Suzanne will likely soon share more of her own insight and analysis of the trial, things that didn't make the daily paper.
I am also grateful to the newsroom staff here who were directly involved in this coverage talking through story ideas, shooting photos and helping make sure other news got covered while Suzanne was covering the trial.
Most of all, I'm grateful to many, many readers who saw The Star's coverage and shared their opinions over the past three weeks. The vast majority were complimentary.
One member of the prosecution team, however, felt The Star's coverage was biased in favor of the defense. He's entitled to his opinion, too.
Reader feedback is a humbling experience. Visiting with members of the Meridian Optimist Club the other day, I was reminded that readers have definite expectations of their daily newspaper.
Good questions
Some questioned why it's called a "news" paper when there's so much advertising. Another wondered why a "news" paper would have editorial opinions. A third asked, with good reason, "Who writes those headlines?" A fourth quizzed, "Why can't you just put all the page one stories on page one," instead of jumping the copy to another page.
Good questions, and I probably gave inadequate answers. It was a lesson in the kinds of things that are important to readers of The Meridian Star.
Some of us here at The Star are currently engaged in a project to freshen the paper's look. Part of that process is to identify anew the kinds of news you've told us you want to see in the paper and how you'd like to see it presented.
Service to our readers is our highest priority. With your guidance, the good people here at The Star will continue working to present the great people in this communty our best daily effort.
Buddy Bynum is editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3213, or e-mail him at bbynum@themeridianstar.com.