Readers question play of Mitt Romney, Neil Armstrong stories


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The front page of Sunday’s Times featured a large profile of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a preview to the GOP National Convention, which was to begin Monday.

A similar profile of President Obama is scheduled for this coming Sunday, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.


But some readers thought another article should have been the main story of the day -- the obituary of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

The comments ran along these lines:

‘As a registered Republican and a 60+ year reader of the Los Angeles Times I am offended and outraged that a picture of Mitt Romney (a politician!) should be the front main story this morning rather than Neil Armstrong,’ wrote Carolyn Zwirn of Los Angeles. ‘Neil Armstrong was a hero in every sense of the word: a brave, courageous and honorable man over whom you chose a politician.’

‘The world lost a hero in Neil Armstrong. That one small step for man he took 43 years ago just took a step backward when you choose to feature a presidential candidate above someone who reached for the stars, achieved it and then came home,’ emailed Maureen Hilt of Granada Hills.

‘I was frankly appalled, but not surprised, to see the front page of the L.A. Times today with the main story not about a man who actually accomplished a lot for us in his lifetime, Neil Armstrong, but instead, a large image of a politician,’ said Paul J. Burke of Palmdale.

‘What poor judgment to put a political candidate so prominently on the front page above Neil Armstrong, a national hero for all times to come! What were you thinking?’ emailed Jorg and Anke Raue of Rancho Palos Verdes.

Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin explained:

‘Every day, Times editors assemble a front page intended to reflect the most interesting and important stories of the day. Last Saturday, editors made a varied selection for the Sunday front page that included an analysis of a $1-billion jury verdict in favor of Apple Inc. in an intellectual property case and a profile of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the eve of his party’s nominating convention. ‘On Saturday afternoon, word of the unexpected death of astronaut Neil Armstrong added another story to the mix.

‘Designers redrew the page to display an Armstrong obituary on the right-hand side, accompanied by a photograph of a jubilant Armstrong in the Apollo 11 lunar module and an image of The Times’ front page of July 21, 1969, reporting on the moon landing.

‘The obituary was positioned lower on the page than the Romney profile. Some readers took this as a slap at Armstrong or a sign that we deemed his accomplishments to be lesser than Romney’s. No such judgment was intended.

‘The obituary, which ran 2,400 words, was a comprehensive account of Armstrong’s life and achievements, generously illustrated with historic photos. The article was rigorously researched and written in advance by the late Times staff writer Eric Malnic, an aviation expert. Times staff writer Valerie J. Nelson updated and expanded on the original article on deadline Saturday.

‘In its entirety, the Armstrong package did justice to a historic figure.’

-- Deirdre Edgar