Archive for the ‘Commentz Korner’ Category

Commentz Corner: Now I’m the big dope

March 21, 2008

I’ve just switched commenting back to the way it was when I first launched Gannett Blog: I’ll now read each comment before allowing it to be public. I’ve railed against overly coarse, undermoderated commenting on Gannett websites, so I’m going to nail myself when the same thing happens here. Since I opened up commenting two weeks ago, readers published a couple comments that were unnecessarily personal and mean in their attacks on private individuals and on management (yup: management). I deleted them just minutes after they appeared — but that was still a few minutes longer than I liked.

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Commentz Korner: A tale of two site launches

March 19, 2008

The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., launched its new website design yesterday, just a day after Florida Today rolled out the same Gannett-mandated look. The new template is meant to promote even more interaction between readers and editors. Yet, the two papers took very different approaches in soliciting reader reaction — offering lessons for other editors on the verge of making the switch.

Florida Today‘s note announcing the change did exactly what you’d expect: encouraged easy feedback. “If you have any questions or concerns about the new site, please drop us an e-mail to webmaster@floridatoday.com,” the note said. Editors also offered a chance to comment on the note itself. (As I post, readers have left 10 pages of comments. And they’re pretty negative — as is often the case with any sudden change.)

The C-J‘s now hard-to-find note, on the other hand, ends this way: “Enjoy the new look, new features and improved user experience.” There’s no suggested path for quick feedback, and (so far) no comments allowed on the note — leaving some confused readers in one of the forums wondering aloud about the changes.

Local critics are divided on the switch. “The new one is much better,” says Rick Redding of the alternative weekly, Leo; he got an advance peek. But the ‘Ville Voice is blunt: “It sucks.” (Curious about reader reaction, I just started my own discussion thread on the C-J‘s site; you should be able to see it here.)

Got a comment that made it past your filters? Write Commentz Korner from a non-work computer via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Image: this morning’s Courier-Journal, Newseum]

Programming note: I’ve ‘opened’ commenting

March 2, 2008

I’ve lost track of how many comments readers have written since I moved Gannett Blog into higher gear in January. Hundreds? Probably. In all that time, I’ve only spiked one (I had a libel concern). To my delight, I’ve discovered you like to write smart comments that are on topic. (No NAFTA! No deviations into Britney Spearsland!) So, in an experiment, I’ve changed this blog’s settings: Comments now appear as soon as you hit the publish key; you no longer need to wait until I read and approve them. (But I’m still reading each one; I learn a lot that way.)

Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

Stop the presses: I’m paying a compliment!

February 29, 2008

The Arizona Republic, announcing the appointment of a new No. 2 newsroom leader, is allowing readers to leave comments at the bottom of the story. Holy Single Standard! The story treatment about newly appointed Executive Editor Nicole Carroll (left) reverses past Republic practice on stories about three influential Gannett executives.

[Photo: Republic]

Commentz Korner: Phoenix shielding Dickey?

February 28, 2008

Batting three for three, The Arizona Republic appears to be protecting another top Gannett executive from embarrassing online reader comments. The paper published its story about newly appointed newspaper division President Robert Dickey (left) — without allowing comments at the story’s end.

Dickey, 50, the Republic‘ s chairman, replaces retiring Sue Clark-Johnson, 61 — another former Republic executive.

The Phoenix paper — Gannett’s second-biggest, after USA Todayallows commenting selectively. At the moment, for example, readers can leave comments on a Dunkin’ Donuts story, or on another, about Honeywell laying off hundreds of Phoenix workers. On that story, one reader comment calls Honeywell executives “liars.”

But when it comes to influential Gannett executives, editors apparently fear similar, nasty remarks. The no-comments-allowed decision happened twice before: In the Republic‘s Second Coming of Sue story, and when Editor Ward Bushee quit.

OK. That’s three examples; I’ve got a trend story! Quick, get me trend expert-futurist Faith “Most Overquoted Trend Expert” Popcorn, so I can spin this sucker forward!

Got an offensive or just-plain-crazy comment that made it past your Gannett site’s filters? Use this link to e-mail Commentz Korner suggestions. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the moderated comments section, below.

As Dickey rises, who’s vulnerable at Corporate?

February 27, 2008

What I wouldn’t mind seeing if it happened my way: Names, areas of responsibility, and years with Gannett. I’m mostly interested in those at the Corporate Tower.

Of course, I’m referring to this: Today, the board of directors named longtime Gannett executive Robert Dickey (left) as the new president of the newspaper division, re-branded as U.S. Community Publishing. That puts him snugly in the executive suite at McLean, Va. — and queued up as a likely successor to Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow.

Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below. But because of privacy concerns, I won’t make any of the comments public.

The Shirt-tale
Now, we might as well get this out of the way. It’s that name: Dickey. Big, big problem for your’s truly when it comes to writing posts and heds. (Exhibit A, above.) I’m sure he suffered cruel needling as a kid. But it’s really hard to blog when Dickey keeps popping up. (OMG!!! See what I mean?!)

But now, seriously: No jokes, comments or criticisms that play off the guy’s last name. It’s boring already — and it hasn’t even started. I’d like to avoid spiking a lot of otherwise good comments.

Powered by me and the Courier-Post

February 20, 2008

What you’re seeing, above, may be impossible to read; click on the image for a bigger view. It’s a screen shot of a comment I just left in a Courier-Post forum here, saying:

Courier-Post owner investigates charges of overtime abuse at the paper

Gannett, which owns the Courier-Post, said today that it is “looking into” allegations by Courier-Post employees that many newsroom staffers are working overtime hours without pay. The employees had warned Publisher Walt Lafferty in a Feb. 10 letter that they would take their grievances to the U.S. Labor Department if their concerns weren’t addressed by Feb. 22 — Friday. For more, see Gannett Blog at http://www.gannettblog.blogspot.com/.

Frankly, I wrote it to test the limits of free expression at the newspaper in Cherry Hill, N.J. Unmoderated comments are a double-edged sword, eh?

Welcome to S.F., Ward ‘Police Blotter’ Bushee!

January 25, 2008

The San Francisco Chronicle has now published its own story about Arizona Republic Editor Ward Bushee bolting Gannett for the top job in Baghdad by the Bay. Among the 39 comments so far on the Chronicle‘s story, this from a reader with the screen name Ailanthus: “If you look at the Arizona Republic online, the entire front page, is taken up with crime, entertainment and sports. RIP the San Francisco Chronicle.”

Don’t you love comments? And yet! As I post this, the Republic isn’t allowing comments on its story about Bushee’s replacement. The same thing happened with that gushing account of Sue Clark-Johnson‘s impending (threatened?) return to Phoenix. Surely, a coincidence!

Crime Central? Judge for yourselves with this fresh screen shot from the Republic‘s website; click on it for a much bigger view.

Commentz Korner: USAT publishes b@llsh@t

January 17, 2008

The New York Times now has 11 staffers reading and approving online reader comments before they’re published, MediaShift says. Jonathan Landman, the NYT‘s deputy managing editor for digital journalism, says the paper started out with four part-timers doing that work. And he expects to hire more people and to train others as comments expand to other stories.

USA Today is cited as a paper that spotlights comments. Its most-commented story as I write this post is about the next round of presidential primaries. The story has drawn nearly 2,000 comments, including this trenchant observation from a reader identified only as scrappyd: “You cant vote intelligently if you cant seperate fact from b@llsh@t.”

Yes, indeed! Comments like that certainly advance my understanding of this crucial election. How ’bout you?

Got an offensive or just-plain-crazy comment that made it past your Gannett site’s filters? Use this link to e-mail Commentz Korner suggestions. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the moderated comments section, below.

[Image: this morning’s USA Today; hat tip, Romenesko]

Currie: Sound journalism over ‘shouting matches’

January 17, 2008

Newspaper Division Senior Vice President Phil Currie could have been talking about unmoderated comments and other such reader-generated content when he wrote today about political punditry run amok in the just-out issue of News Watch:

“If the responsible operations can’t change the current process — and it is doubtful that all of this is going away — then they must work hard to help the public see the difference between shouting matches and sound journalism, and underscore that the second version — while perhaps not quite as visually or viscerally entertaining — in the long run is far more informative and important to us all.”

Use this link to e-mail feedback, tips, snarky letters, etc. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Image: this morning’s Detroit Free Press. Two days after the Michigan presidential primary, the paper says: “Even though seven out of 10 African Americans did not vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton in Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary, analysts and black voters don’t see it as a sign of irreversible trouble for Clinton if she becomes the party’s nominee.”]