The Herald is one of the few papers I viewed today that didn't run a full story about Barry Bonds on the front page. Why didn't we? Do you think it belonged there?
I'm sure you know by now that Bonds, baseball's career home run king, was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice Thursday. That's big news anywhere you play it. We chose to strip the news across the top of the Sports section, and here are a few reasons why:
First, we gave the Bonds story prominence on 1A by placing the bold headline "BARRY BONDS INDICTED'' in the skybox above the Herald masthead. That headline was nearly as big as our strip headline, which pulled readers into a strong local story by reporter Donna Wright about nonprofits that are struggling to provide resources because of gas prices.
Second, our centerpiece story on 1A was a sports story — and another strong one. Roger Mooney wrote about a former Manatee County High football star who now serves as the team chaplain for Fort Myers High. Those teams were scheduled to rekindle an old rivalry by meeting in the first round of the playoffs.
Local sports is strongly woven into the fabric of our community, and making the football playoffs is a big deal — just ask Manatee, Palmetto and Bradenton Prep, the three county teams who teed up the ball Friday night. We're not squeamish about giving big play to these kinds of stories.
Even so, we often hear complaints from readers when we run any kind of sports story on 1A. "Put the sports on the sports pages,'' we're told. And it's extremely rare that we run two sports stories out there.
In addition to the prep football centerpiece and the gas story, we had two other worthy local reads on 1A: the latest turn on the Anna Maria Island Bridge story by Duane Marsteller, and Stacey Eidson's take on the first cold snap of the season. That made for a good mix of four local stories (a fifth in the Bradenton edition was a McClatchy story about a move to ease congestion in airports for Thanksgiving), and fulfilled our daily quest to be the definitive source for local news in Manatee County.
But back to Bonds. Was the story worthy of 1A? Yes, we believe it was. Did the story itself need to be out there? It deserved a presence, certainly, and we feel we accomplished that with the bold skybox headline and photo of Bonds — without sacrificing our local coverage.
As always, we encourage your feedback.