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Stories that touch the heart

An 8-year-old girl with a major heart problem. A cardiologist who reassures her that she’ll survive the procedure -- he’s so sure of it that he promises to dance with her at her high school prom.

The girl grows up and the doctor keeps his word.

That story in Saturday’s paper about young Stefani Pentiuk and her Mayo doctor, Mike Ackerman, touched the hearts of a lot of readers. Post-Bulletin writer Jeff Hansel recognized it for what it was, a powerful story about the bonds that patients of all ages have with their doctors, and the commitments that people make and keep. His roughly 2,500-word story, with good editing by local news editor Mike Klein, did what the best journalism does — it makes people care.

I’ve heard from several readers this week, including Diane Nelson of Rochester, who sent this note:

"The front-page article about the doctor and his prom date is exactly what we need right now: wonderful, heart-warming pieces that give people a lift during this stinky, unsettling time we are going through.

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"Keep it up. We THOROUGHLY enjoyed the paper."

I hardly need to confirm Diane’s comment that we’re living in tough times. The news media often are criticized for reporting dismal news about the economy, the wars, the budget woes and all the rest.

That’s our job — how else are you going to get straight facts about local news? It’s our job to ask tough questions and not just be a cheerleader or press organ for local government.

But absolutely it’s also our job to tell you about people like Stefani Pentiuk, her family and her doctor. The emotional power of a story like that puts the rest of the news in perspective.

Thanks for the comments, and believe me, we’re always looking for more stories like Stefani’s.

‘Best Bets’ in Total TV

Did you and your TV survive the "digital conversion" last week? If so, you presumably remain good readers of Total TV, our weekly programming guide, which runs in the Weekend edition.

We’ve made some changes in Total TV in recent months, and each time we do, we’re reminded of how many readers use it, depend on it and are protective of it.

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Last month we dropped the mini-reviews of movies each week, as a way to reduce the number of pages and save newsprint. We heard from a few dozen readers that they were disappointed (some more than others) that those reviews were gone.

We take every comment regarding the paper seriously, and we’ve figured out a way to meet those readers halfway: Beginning this weekend, we’ll provide mini-reviews of the best movies on TV in the week ahead. These "Best Bet" reviews will cover the 3- and 4-star movies on area cable.

Hopefully this does the trick for movie fans. Also, we’ll continue to post mini-reviews of all movies on area cable each week on Postbulletin.com. Go to www.postbulletin.com/entertainment/movies to find those reviews.

To make room for the Best Bets, we’ll drop the cable conversion chart in Total TV. That table of data is of fairly limited value in the digital age.

One more TV question we’ve heard from readers recently: Are we planning to run complete listings for all the new digital channels available, such as 10.1, 10.2, etc.?

Nope! The mind reels at how much space it would take to run listings for every new digital channel available. But we’ll watch for ways to make our daily program listings and Total TV even more useful to you. Pass along your ideas.

Join us at Rochesterfest

Next week when you’re prowling around the Rochesterfest booths on Civic Center Drive at lunchtime, stop by the P-B booth and meet some of our top writers and company leaders. Jennifer Koski, Tracy McCray, Marissa Block, Greg Sellnow, Rochester Magazine editor Steve Lange, publisher Randy Chapman and yours truly will be there through the week.

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Several of us also will be sprinting along the parade route on Friday night, handing out fliers with the parade lineup. Some of us will be sprinting faster than others.

Jay Furst is the Post-Bulletin’s managing editor. Send him a note at P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903, or furst@postbulletin.com.

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