Word - Peace march conflict

Did AJC err by not disclosing full identity of war proponent?

On April 1, the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition held a march to protest the U.S. occupation of Iraq. A story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the event quoted both participants and opponents of the march. One of the opponents was Laura Armstrong, a regular columnist for the Marietta Daily Journal. Yet Armstrong was not at the march, nor did the AJC identify her as a conservative columnist. She instead was described as a "West Cobb resident." Below are excerpts from an e-mail exchange between the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition and AJC staffers regarding the inclusion of Armstrong in the story.

"Well, I can tell you that we do our best to include both sides of an issue when we write about it. And this story obviously wasn't just about a march — it was about the larger issue of the war, and public support for it. We use the telephone to report all the time when the sources we need to provide balance are not in the same place."

-- Heather Vogel, AJC reporter who co-wrote the article

"On occasion, we will broaden coverage of a spot news event by adding some comments from people with a differing viewpoint. I don't see a problem with quoting Armstrong. Yes, she has a clear point of view that is pro-Bush/war and writes an occasional column for the MDJ but that doesn't make her off-limits in terms of being interviewed, no more than any of you would be."

-- Angela Tuck, AJC public editor

"The next time Bush or Cheney comes to Atlanta for one of their fund-raising events, will the AJC coverage include comments from someone like columnist John Sugg of Creative Loafing to contradict their statements? If the AJC is going to play the 'balance' game, it must go both ways."

-- Joe Parko, member of Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition