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YOUR VIEW: Breed Specific Questions

Posted: Mar 21, 2014 2:27 PM by Courtney Doll and Taeler DeHaes, KOMU 8 Reporters
Updated: Mar 21, 2014 8:39 PM

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COLUMBIA - Earlier this month, KOMU 8 News reported on a bill about specific breeds of dogs.

The bill being debated in the Missouri House would prevent cities from making laws discriminating against certain breeds of dogs.

The KOMU 8 social media team posed a question to viewers asking if animal equality or animal safety was more important. Facebook user Jeffrey Trotter didn't agree with how KOMU 8 News asked the question and posted on our Facebook page:

"That question is grossly inappropriate. It takes a position that breed specific legislation is necessary to public safety. The fact is these laws were knee-jerk reactions to the media's obsession with dogs identified as Pit Bulls."

KOMU 8's interactive director Annie Hammock noticed viewer comments and agreed the question should have been asked differently.

"The question as it was written was biased," Hammock said. "And it suggested that you had to make a choice between either safety or animal equality and in fact, it doesn't have to be one or the other. It can be either or a combination. It's a very complex issue."

After reading viewer feedback, Hammock changed the Facebook post to include a more neutral question. She said KOMU 8 News uses social media as a way to gauge viewer reaction and makes changes when needed.

"Well when we get criticized by our viewers we take a close look at what they're saying, and what other people are saying, and think about what we've done," Hammock said. "Is it fair? Is it accurate? And does it need to be changed? And when it does, we make those changes. And we try to be very transparent when we do."

Jim Flink, Reynolds Journalism Institute consultant, said he thinks it is important for news outlets to interact with viewers on social media. He said viewer interactions like these are learning experiences.

"You know, I think looking at every post, every tweet, everything that you do and say that's a learning experience," Flink said. "Especially at the stage that social engagement is right now, to think that you might be an expert when it's changing so fast is probably not likely."

So, what do you think? Should we have changed our Facebook post after viewer criticism?

Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or email us at news@komu.com.

Then watch KOMU 8 News on Fridays at 6 for your view of the news.

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