News Columns & Blogs

Changes ahead for comics, feature sections in 2010

The month of January always brings hope that the new year will be better in some way. Maybe this is the year you keep going to the gym, maintaining your fitness beyond the temporal nature of New Year's resolutions.

Maybe this is the year the economy really recovers, and people start finding jobs again. We all hope that will happen.

At The Olympian, we’re making some changes to start out the new year that I think you will like. On Jan. 17, we will introduce new Sunday and daily comics pages. They’ll feature some of the newer, cutting-edge strips as well as everyone’s favorite traditional comics.

A panel of Olympian readers helped us choose the new lineup. We’re going to print the comics in full color every day on a separate page that can easily be pulled out of the paper. The back of this special page will feature TV listings, the daily crossword, Sudoku, Dear Abby and more. (The one exception is Monday, when the comics and puzzles will be part of a section.)

On the same day, we’ll launch a new Sunday features section about life and people in South Sound. We’re designing the new section to take you to places you might not otherwise know about and to introduce you to people you might not otherwise meet. The section also will include coverage of the outdoors, books, the arts and more.

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, we’ll introduce a new features section focusing on food, homes and gardens in South Sound.

That same week, our entertainment tabloid, Weekend, will move to Fridays. It will continue to provide stories and the latest detailed listings of places to go and things to do around South Sound, including a new calendar of outdoor activities for the coming weekend.

I think you’ll like these changes.

TEAM NAMES

A letter writer this week questioned why professional sport teams get away with using names he says are offensive to Native Americans. It’s a good question, and readers often ask me why The Olympian prints team names such as the Washington Redskins or the Cleveland Indians.

We use the proper names of all sports teams for several reasons. The first is simply a matter of practicality. The Associated Press, which supplies most of our professional sports coverage, has chosen to use the proper names, so it would create operational difficulties to alter every story.

The more important issue is whether these team names actually offend Native Americans. Activists who have been trying to end the use of Indian names and symbols as logos or mascots in the U.S. say they do. Recent polls suggest otherwise.

A 2002 poll by the Peter Harris Research Group asked this question of 352 Native Americans and 743 other sports fans. Of the Native Americans polled, 217 lived on reservations and 134 lived elsewhere.

The poll found that 81 percent of Native Americans said high school and college teams should not stop using Indian nicknames. That grew to 83 percent when they were questioned about professional sports.

When asked if the use of these team names “contributes to discrimination,” 75 percent of Native Americans said no.

Two years later, the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a poll that confirmed the earlier Harris findings. Annenberg found that 91 percent of American Indians surveyed in 48 states thought the names were acceptable.

And just a month ago, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging a lower court’s ruling that the Washington Redskins can continue using their team name.

Our goal is always to report the news objectively, without alterations or filters, as best we can. Those who find the sport team names offensive should be trying to gather public support for changing them. We don’t help that cause by pretending the names don’t exist.

George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, can be reached at 360-357-0206 or glemasurier@theolympian.com.

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