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Viewpoint: Reader feedback on Jan. 20 story did not go unnoticed

Last week my inbox received a handful of emails from readers providing feedback on one story in particular.

The Jan. 20 edition of the Woodbury Bulletin featured a story ("Student perseveres in Geography Bee") on a local fourth grader who won a school Geography Bee.

One would assume this kind of news wouldn't easily draw criticism from readers. But about one dozen readers emailed and called the Bulletin to air their frustration with specific content in the story that told of the student's perseverance in the competition despite a minor mishap.

Many of these readers who took the time to contact us emphatically stated they thought it was in poor taste for the paper to report such details they believe will cause embarrassment to the student.

Some of these readers said they believe the story was thoughtlessly published with intent to shame the student. That couldn't be further from the truth.

For some perspective: Our news staff did have a conversation about how to best tell this story. Staff writer Amber Kispert was at the competition and saw that it was a very public moment and noted the student's composure despite the minor accident (you can read the details in the story).

She spoke with the student and his parents immediately after the competition and spoke with them again later that evening over the phone to ask them for their feedback on inclusion of the details that some may deem a sensitive subject. Kispert said the parents told her they spoke with their child and they were comfortable with including the details in the story.

In hindsight, the story may have provided some clearer perspective for the readers on how the student and his parents took this potentially embarrassing moment in stride with the inclusion of a comment from the parents and the student.

We understand that as the story was published some readers may have been offended and felt sorry for the student. But we also know others will look at this story as an example of a young person who showed a tremendous amount of maturity while persevering in the face of adversity, which was our intention.

Writing for the readers can be tough sometimes. That's why we appreciate your willingness to dialogue with us on what you like, don't like and what you think will make the Woodbury Bulletin better. You can bet we are listening.