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Public editor: Why readers were taken aback by today’s Life & Arts section

In Wednesday's newspaper, the Life & Arts section ran a special issue called "The Age of the Gourmet." It is a beautifully designed section with very interesting content on the positive side of food culture, the rare ingredients food lovers are looking for and a fun quiz on whether you know your kohlrabi from karela (I don't).

As popular as this special section was, a number of readers were annoyed for two reasons. First, that there was no Arts coverage for the day in the Life/Arts section. "What gives?" wrote one reader.

Second, that there was a pointer from the paper to an online-only column by television critic John Doyle. "I expect to see John Doyle in the paper and don't want to leave the paper to go to the computer to find his column," another reader said.

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Kathryn Hayward, acting Life & Arts editor, said they are currently planning more special sections and will do some on arts topics as well. She makes a strong case for the impact of giving readers many different angles and stories on a single subject. But she also says she hears the readers' concerns and has learned two things from this first special issue. One, the section could do a better job by including a note to readers explaining the special section, and two, to try to find a way to include some Arts coverage every day.

I agree on the note. It is always better to provide an explanation to readers. Also, in my view, it would have been better to include John Doyle and perhaps a film review somewhere in the section. I think readers understand that online is vast and can offer additional stories and content, but expect the most important and regular features from writers such as John Doyle to always be in the newspaper. I agree.

You can email me on this or any other issue at

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About the Author
Public Editor

Sylvia Stead has been a reporter and editor at the Globe since 1975, after graduating from the University of Western Ontario in Journalism with a minor in Political Science. She won the Board of Governors Award there in 1974. As a reporter, Sylvia covered courts, education and Queen's Park. More


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