Times-Union calls gun show ad placement "regrettable coincidence"

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A day after one of most shocking incidents of city gun violence in recent memory, the city's daily paper found itself the subject of scrutiny after a sticky ad offered a jarring contrast to a front page headline.

"Shock, anger after shooting" read the front page of The Florida Times-Union, the headline for a story about a Thursday school bus shooting in which two teen girls were injured. Affixed to the top of the same page: a bright yellow sticker that read, "Gun Show This Weekend."

The contrast was jarring enough to prompt a local social media backlash, as well as tweets and comments from reporters at The New York Times and The Tampa Bay Times. Reporters at the paper acknowledge they are hearing feedback from readers and colleagues around the country.

Asked for comment, vice president of audience Kurt Caywood called the placement a "regrettable coincidence," one that reflected not insensitivity, but the firewall that exists between advertising and editorial functions. The full statement is here:

"All of us at The Florida Times-Union know that gun violence is one of the most emotionally charged and pressing issues facing our community. The tragedy that occurred on a Duval County school bus Thursday was as societally significant as it was frightening. As such, a team of reporters, editors and photographers approached this story with great sensitivity and professionalism, and we stand proudly by their report on page 1A of Friday's newspaper.

The appearance of a gun-related front-page sticky note on the same day was an incredibly regrettable coincidence. It was born of the purposeful separation between our news and advertising departments, an approach we take because we value nothing more than the objectivity of our journalism. That said, this clearly was an oversight. We're aggressively reviewing our procedures and will implement steps to prevent such a situation in the future."


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