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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 4/1/2007

Utah shooting rampage received adequate coverage

Ron Bliss thought he had found proof The Blade suppresses news that doesn't fit its "slant left" agenda.

"I was browsing the Internet and ran across a story on the 18-year-old mall shooter in Salt Lake City (who) was a Bosnian national. It told in the article that he was a Muslim and while he was killing the mall shoppers he was shouting Allah Akbar (Allah is Great.)

"Now then this means it was either a terrorist act in America or at the very least, a hate crime."

Yet Mr. Bliss said he searched our archives and found nothing at all on the Feb. 12 shooting. If we deliberately suppressed it, he felt we should remove "One of America's Great Newspapers" from the front page.

Indeed, he would be right about our slogan if The Blade were deliberately censoring stories about Muslim terrorists. And if that were going on, I would have no desire to be associated with this newspaper.

But that's not what happened. In fact, The Blade ran at least five stories about the mall shooter, Sulejman Talovic, who had lived in Utah since his family fled Bosnia when he was 9 years old. Curiously, the newspaper did not report that he shouted "Allah Akbar" during his killing spree, which took the lives of five people before the police killed the gunman.

I have no idea why The Blade left that detail out since the Associated Press and other news services the paper subscribes to reported it.

We did however report that he was a Muslim, and ran a story about how terrible his relatives felt, "We are Muslims, but we are not terrorists," his aunt said in one of them. His father condemned his son's actions.

Should The Blade have given the story more prominence? Did we deliberately ignore an instance of terrorism in America?

I don't think so. Had all the details been available when the story first broke, it might have ended up on the front page. But by the next day, it was clear that every sign pointed to this being a case of a troubled teen acting out.

And Salt Lake City is a long, long way from our circulation area. Yes, Talovic was a Muslim, and he appears to have wanted people to think he was part of some terrorist movement when he launched his murderous killing spree, which was plainly designed to end his own life.

Had the evidence shown that he was acting on orders from Osama bin Laden, it would have been front-page news everywhere. But the movement he served was entirely within his head. And blaming Islam for what he did would be like blaming Christianity for David Koresh or Jim Jones.

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Reader Jack Treuhaft was puzzled and annoyed. He spends March in Florida, and while he is down there he likes to subscribe to The Blade's e-edition.

But this month, he did not receive the comics or Parade for the first two Sundays. When he called, he said he was informed The Blade did not send them "because they are inserts." That puzzled him. "If I didn't want them, I wouldn't have to purchase the e-edition as I could find the news and obits on The Blade Web site."

After some digging, it turned out, according to Ken Burkett, The Blade's prepress manager, it was a glitch due to how the computer files were named. Hopefully, it has now been corrected, and you can read your Blade comics on your laptop on the beach.

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In the past two weeks I have had four phone calls from people who urgently wanted to talk to me about stories in The Blade. But I never called any of them back. Why? Simple. They all forgot to leave their phone numbers.

Please make sure you do - with area code. Frankly, the best and fastest way to reach me is nearly always e-mail. But I will call you back, as long as you leave a phone number and don't swear violently at me.

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Anyone with a concern about fairness or accuracy in The Blade is invited to write me, c/o The Blade, 541 N. Superior St., Toledo, OH 43660, or at my Detroit office: 189 Manoogian Hall, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202; call me at 1-888-746-8610, or email me at OMBLADE@aol.com. I cannot promise to address every question in the newspaper, but I do promise that everyone who contacts me with a serious question will get a personal reply.



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