Seems to me they intend to allow story comments for whatever their reasons, but to have more control over it. Meanwhile, the editor(?) is attempting to appeal to your better natures and asking everyone to follow the rules. Seems a reasonable request, but you folks will never be reasonable, so theirs is a lost cause. I got a kick out of the writer who asked, "whatever happened to freedom of speech?" He (or she) expects to find that in a newspaper? Not unless he owns one. Was he asleep in 5th grade Civics? A newspaper does not owe you freedom of speech. A democracy owes you the right to publish your own. And now we can blog! Is America great or what?
>>...t's important to note that none of us -- regardless of how the criticism was phrased -- have gotten any sense that our feedback has even been acknowledged, much less considered.<<<
... and as customers, I'll assume, you deserve to have your opinions considered, at least acknowledged. Far be it from me, a relative outsider to the OD and its readers, to pronounce the OD staff to be icons of good journalism or even common sense. But a perusal of the forums ... now, the old forums ... left me thinking more about the idiots who make up the bulk of posters than the direction OD management wants to pursue implementing the forums. And I know there are indeed some thoughtful and intelligent writers, certainly like yourself, but you seem in the minority. I think the OD is probably not really concentrating on "the best" way to run a forum, only on how to avoid all the people problems of a forum and how it could effect their business. (I hate to harp on this, but it IS a business.) . So, the OD did the following: 1. limited commenter's access to their "airwaves" by allowing only on-point story comments, 2. made an appeal to reason in the above referenced "Be Civil" piece, 3. cut Joel and that crowd off at the knees by emptying their sandbox, and 4. I'll bet on a couple of more surprises they haven't announced yet. All of which makes sense to me. Then, when the howling dogs have gone away and the pasture is once again peaceful, Fran can think about how he wants to run a forum. But I sure as hell don't know how he'll avoid the howling dogs if he opens the gate wide again. (I live 130 miles away; why am I involved in this thread?)
It may be a business, and they surely don't have to provide an online section for public comment. But, if you're going to create one, use common sense.
It does not take a PhD in psychology to know that people become more bold with anonymity. When their name and reputation comes into play, people typically think twice. By creating the current section the way they did, they allowed for total anonymity. Under the veil of anonymity, people can say what they want no matter how rude or offensive without ever having to deal with the consequences. If they had kept the forums and did a better job of moderating, the situation would be different. Look at the difference here as an example.
The od did not cut the irritainers off at the knee, they enabled more of them to comment by making it strictly anonymous -- as if they didn't learn their lesson from their very first attempt at a forum in the mid 1990s. This new format stopped people like frankcor from having an effective means to debate the other side of the story that the disgrace conveniently leaves out from its articles. It also disabled political watch groups like ConcernedCitizens and ewiatr from educating the masses of the corruptness going on in New Hartford and Whitestown.
And as Ralph pointed out, the od is not concerned with intelligent debate. They just want an increase in visit counts. That will boost them further up on search engine sites like Google. Not only that, but then they can increase their fees for online ads because more people will click on the od's weblink and the ads will be viewed more.
When you write articles like the paper has published over the past week, you incite the crowd to react in a strong manner. You're going to create a lot of hits because you now have an outraged crowd giving their points of view. This is exactly what they want. It's reckless news reporting at its best. Now they are complaining about the precise results they planned for.
While intelligent responses were in the minority, again, that is what the moderators wanted. The more offensive the comments, the more visits to their site. The problem is that it go so out of control that when the moderators did finally start to moderate, there was severe backlash, especially when regulars were threatened to have their accounts deleted for trying to collectively moderate the idiotic responses. Had they focused on the actual irritainers, the old forums might have survived.
I can't stress this enough, the od does not want educated discussion. The od does not even want a discussion that is adverse to their opinions -- not just the editorials but the themes in all their articles. I have seen several of my posts be deleted and it is only because it countered their opinions. When news first broke of Arcuri's chicken-shit move in Congress to stop the land-trust application, I spoke out against it and was the first commenter on the article. I was quite civil in my reply. I checked the article a few hours later to see other responses. My post was missing, but there were 10 other comments all supporting Arcuri's re-election-vote-losing move.
The point is that the od is not in the news business as we know it. They have a very obvious agenda and make no attempt to hide it. Go read some of the political watch group blogs, you would be amazed at how much the od does not publish that is very important. You'll begin to feel the frustration many of us have.
At the end I'll post the links to the few that I frequent. They contain a plethora of information that, if was common public knowledge, would enrage the public, or never occur because they would all lose their elected positions. I kid you not when I say that several New Hartford Town Officials have committed serious criminal offenses that would make Eron look like child's play. Yet you'll never see anything about that in the papers. Concernedcitizens once posted a thread about bill virkler's real estate practices. They have all the supporting evidence showing that just before bill buys a piece of land, the Town Assessor reduces the town's assessment by -- in some instances -- as much as 25%. Then after bill does whatever he does and then places the land back up for sale, the Town Assessor will increase the assessment value to a number that exceeds the original assessment value. It lasted an hour on the od forums before the moderators deleted it. I've seen the documents they have to support it.
Several members here have had their accounts deleted at the od forums. Mind you, their accounts were not deleted for any tos violations. The moderators, in e-mail exchanges admitted that. I was even threatened to have my account deleted for not violating the tos, but for "speculating". I remember that fiasco well. The disgrace's top reporter on the Oneida Indian Nation's land-trust application would routinely try to point out that the trust application was the Oneidas' feeble attempt to "effectively circumvent a U.S. Supreme Court decision." I wrote her and quoted the exact text of the decision she referred to where Justice Ginsburg told the Oneidas that their best method for reclaiming their tax exempt status is to place the land into trust via section 465 of the IRA. She still insisted on putting her circumvention line in all of her articles. Finally, I posted on the forum. It was one of my very first posts.
Would someone please explain to me how the land-trust application is an attempt to effectively circumvent a U.S. Sup. Ct. decision? I'm reading the Sherrill v Oneida Indian Nation case right now. I found the part where it says that the best way for the Oneidas to have their tax exempt status back on those original ancient tribal lands was to put the land into trust. Is there a secret opinion somewhere else that indicates something different?
I cited the case with a pinpoint reference to the page in the opinion, but I can't remember that cite so I'll leave it out of here. After a day of my fueling educated responses to the naysayers' non-educated posts, I received a message from fran warning me that if I didn't change my stance, my account would be deleted. He then went on to say that while it's not a per se tos violation, my posts are speculative at best and that without indication I'm only speculating I'm violating the tos by presenting my speculation as fact. So, I copied my e-mail that I sent to ms. cooper, and defied him to explain how I'm speculating about the truth. From that point forward, my posts were not deleted again and the thread of deleting my account stopped, until gmo came along.
This all goes back to my point that the od does not want intelligent, educated, and adult discussion. The reason posters like frankcor are in the minority is because the moderators worked hard to make that happen. If civility and educated discussion were their true goals, I should have never received those threats.
I might add that after my first encounter with fran, cooper finally stopped insisting that the trust application was an attempt to circument the US Sup Ct. And I've noticed that since I've started posting educated posts about the OIN issues, many of the one-line wonders stopped commenting. Only sepeterman insists on posting and he can't seem to post his opinion without personal attacks and insults. But every time he tries to pawn something off as the law, I call him on it and he backs down.
You can criticize my latest responses as no different than the ones I complain of. I don't care. It's the result of constant insults. People like scottie don't seem to respond to civil debate, and need to be insulted before they read the rest of your post. My persona on the od forums is the result of poor moderating and constant threats to have my account deleted.
I remember another incident where my posts were summarily deleted without any explanation, until I e-mailed fran. It involved the 56 or 60 yr old woman convicted of murdering her husband with anti-freeze. Everyone had an opinion of the jury and insisted that she was innocent. People blasted the case insisting that she was convicted on circumstantial evidence and how weak that it.
I responded with the whole, you weren't in the courtroom, you only have the paper's selected facts of the case, you didn't see the witnesses testify, you weren't on the jury and aren't privy to its deliberations, etc. I asked how they could think they know more than the jury that sat in on the case, observed all the things they didn't. After that post, several posts were edited. Then my post was deleted and more of the same posts that came before my post showed up. I called fran on it and e-mailed the link to a law review article blasting the public for the same exact thing. He allowed my next post to remain, and my post about circumstantial evidence to remain. Since that story, few if any have criticized the strength of circumstantial evidence. Thoough as the molina-cirino trial demonstrated, many still think they are smarter than the jury without even being in the courtroom. But my posts were again deleted because it went counter to their agenda.
The OD opened themselves up to a 3-ring circus all by themselves by doing away with the forum in favor of comments at the end of a news story. The comments I've read have mostly been nothing more than cheap shots. I haven't read very many intelligent comments at all. They've turned themselved into TMZ!
Interesting, Swimmy. I'll play devil's advocate and speculate that your examples of the New Hartford real estate business and the land trust application may be simply one lawyer (you) versus the OD's lawyers. Obviously, they don't want to get sued for statements theyt feel they can't support. Or, you could be right and they have an unfair interest. Which brings up an interesting point,which you can answer, if you don't mind. Is the OD in any way responsible for comments made in their forums as they might be for what they print in their newspaper? And if so, would it make them skittish about what happens in the forums? Also, I'm thinking about the Tax Assessment incident you mentioned. I suppose a reporter could have called either of the persons involved, inquired and gotten a response that satisfied them nothing illegal happened. (Can't imagine, maybe coincidence, whatever, doesn't matter for this example, as long as the reporter was satisfied.) Now, they can't write about their inquiry, that's not news and it isn't fair if indeed the deal was legal. They can't even relay the results of the conversation to you, probably. I'm speculating wildly, I suppose, but that's one of t he "rights" of a devil's advocate. By the way, seems to me a "real" conversation, either in person or on the phone, would possibly have been in order with a person like the reporter or this famous Fran I hear about. Real talk between real people often makes real progress. In regards to hit counter statistics and reckless news reporting. I need to go research that. Seems a bit "just so" to me and if such a system had no checks we would have heard by now of newspapers imploding as they played the numbers, I'm thinking. Amen to the links you've posted. Been to two of them and enjoy them. Will try the other. Anonymity, of course you know I'll agree with you on that point. Only one reason why you are asked to stand up at a town meeting is so that you'll be heard. The other is so that you'll be identified and be responsible for your remarks. People with something thoughtful to say don't worry about being identified most of the time. Your mode of response: People seldom insult me, so I don't know if acrimony is ever appropriate. It's not that I'm big and strong or that anyone is afraid of me, but maybe it's my pissy visage is an Irish version of the photo than Frank posted. Wish I could find it. Well, seriously, I have found it does not help to insult any animal with small ears.
By the way, time for you to write again for More Stories! My neighbor lady, an attorney, really enjoyed Guest Lecturer!
Last Edit: Apr 21, 2008 8:53:54 GMT -5 by dgriffin
I'm at work right now, so I can't delve too much into the substance of your post at this point. Maybe during lunch or later this evening I will be able to respond to your devil's advocate points.
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