Readers respond to special reports

Friday, December 31, 2004

Three Southeast Missourian series provoked unusually large responses from readers in 2004.

In April, readers from all across the country responded to a four-day series on autism.

As Southeast Missourian staff writers Callie Clark and Bob Miller followed the autism issues throughout the year, the newspaper received more than 20 letters to the editor and many more Speak Out comments, some critical of the newspaper for reporting about a controversial theory that blames a vaccine preservative for the exponential outbreak in autism in the 1990s.

Another series that brought large amounts of feedback was Clark's on Cape Girardeau Central junior high teacher Jason Bandermann. She spent more than 40 hours in Bandermann's classroom detailing the ups and downs of a first-year teacher. The stories dealt with behavior, parenting and racial issues.

In November, Miller wrote a lengthy four-part narrative about a Leopold woman's struggle with infertility and a complicated pregnancy with triplets. Southeast Missourian readers came to know Barb and Kenny Elfrink and little Franklin, who died 18 hours after birth.

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