e usually make it a policy not to respond when we get a negative finger pointed at us - either those posted on the Internet or sent to the office by mail.
Consider this an exception.
A reader dropped off a letter to the editor earlier this week calling out the Independent for its coverage of our troops coming home after a year in Iraq. He said he was "ashamed" of our coverage, or, as he put it, lack of coverage.
We appreciate getting feedback from our readers, whether it's good or bad. We put this paper out six days a week for you, and you deserve our best efforts. But if you're going to cast stones, make sure your facts are accurate.
First of all, the author of the letter wrote that we had "two small pictures" of the troops' return. We actually had 11 photos. One of them was five columns wide. We dedicated an inside page to the welcome home event, as well as 80 percent of Page 1A. We also ran a full-color, full-page ad the day they came home.
Second, the letter writer wrote that we gave more press to the carp situation on Lake Shetek three days later than we did the troops. Wrong again. The troops got two stories, its own page, a column and two write-ups in our "Short Takes" section on this page - one of them making a pitch to local businesses to let their employees take some time off of work that day to celebrate the troops' return. Lake Shetek got two stories, a column, a thumbs-up and three photos.
Let's not forget, Lake Shetek, one of the largest bodies of water in southern Minnesota, is a vital part of our region and attracts thousands of people throughout Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa every summer who boat and fish there. That's just one of the reasons to cover the story. The others? One, it's an environmental story; two, it's good human interest. People often complain about newspapers running only the bad news. This was bad news that turned into something positive, something all the volunteers who helped get the fish out should be proud of. You can't look at this as "troops vs. carp." The magnitude of these stories prohibits such a rudimentary view.
We don't feel we shortchanged the troops and their families with our coverage of the welcome home ceremony, and we hope they don't, either. It was a special day for many people. And we don't feel we overplayed what happened on Shetek the following week. Minnesota Public Radio was there after all, and KARE 11 thought it important enough to post a story and some of our photos on its Web site.
You won't see the Independent respond to letter writers too often, but in this case, it's warranted. In this case, we have to defend ourselves.