WESTERHOLD: We're wired and ready for election

Facebook.com and MySpace.com are social phenomena any good newspa
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

Facebook.com and MySpace.com are social phenomena any good newspaperman worth the dirt on his keyboard ought to be giving close attention. For me, my Facebook page serves as a connection to family, old friends and even some new ones. I saw the first pictures at the site this summer of my great-nephew, Graham, and my great-niece, Maddy.

But my other nieces and nephews and even some of my old-man contemporaries are at Facebook.com sharing their lives with friends, family and loved ones. I'm one of those loved ones. Even the local prosecutor has a Facebook site. What might happen, you think, if I send him a "friend request"?

I'm no longer an amateur at Facebook.com, but I'm still a novice. I learned just today how to block those agonizing users in your life (at the site) who hang at the edges of friendship but don't know how to step up, or step forward. So if the prosecutor does accept my friend request he will be able to revoke it at a later date. It hurts bad when you get revoked.

But that's the new meaning of Facebook and other similar sites. The study of human nature, the body of scientific knowledge that informs us why we are how we are, clearly defines it: People need people. We are social creatures who crave attention and crave love. We long to be part of the group. And the Internet, or the "Intersquad" as my 77-year-old uncle called it recently, has created tools that will forever change the meaning of being in relationships.

What's that mean for newspapers? Hmm. Not sure. But an editor who hasn't contemplated that question, or is still wondering what can be done with the Internet, needs to be presently, carefully reviewing retirement plans because the future just passed him or her by.

At the Register, we've been able to capitalize on the value the Internet brings. The newsroom has become a 24/7 operation. We always were that, on some level. If a major news event happened in the middle of the night way past the press start, you can be assured we were there or on our way in relatively short order. When news happens, readers call the Register. And they get through.

But the publishing cycle for the print edition of the newspaper always held editors and reporters hostage to deadlines. We still have those old deadlines, just like always, and you have to love them. Deadlines give structure. But now we can publish at will, any time we want, at sanduskyregister.com.

The newspaper has built a wide audience at sanduskyregister.com, and the first time I realized the power of an anytime publishing schedule was after the blizzard in February 2008. The wind left a 6-foot mountain of the white stuff at my garage door and at my front door. I was working the phone with Jason Werling, the Register's multimedia chief, trying to get reporters hooked up with firefighters and other first responders so we could get them on the road.

As we talked out the effort, I could hear the police scanner buzz through an announcement that all roads across the county had been declared off-limits to all but emergency response vehicles. A couple of phone calls to the Ohio State Patrol, and the sheriff's office added a couple of quotes, and about 15 minutes after the announcement we posted the countywide shutdown at the Web site.

Then there were eight

It looks to be a horse race this fall among candidates for Sandusky City Commission. The filing deadline to declare candidacy was Thursday and eight are in the race. Even ex officio mayor Craig Stahl, a late entry seeking re-election to a four-year term, despite ....

But thank you Mr. Mayor, and thanks to fired police Chief Kim Nuesse, and to John "The Mower" Hamilton, good old Ed Feick, business owner Diedre Cole, Center for Cultural Awareness director Charlene Adams, and appointed city commissioners Bob Warner and Pervis Brown. The fact that this will be a race for the prize and not an "also ran" appointment by the entrenched leadership is the best hope residents have of turning things around at city hall.

Creating a government that serves the people rather than abuses them will hopefully be the result from this election, and things will start looking better in January when a new slate of leaders takes control and takes action. And we'll be there with bells on, in the newspaper delivered to your homes or bought from the newsstands, and at sanduskyregister.com.

The Register intends to bring back the candidate blogs first introduced in the general election a year ago. Candidates will get a question a week from the news team, and readers will be able to interact directly with them and get feedback and answers in ways we could never provide before. We'll also bring back the candidate question and answer coverage in print at sanduskyregister.com.

Planning also is under way to bring candidate forums to the State Theatre in October, and hopefully in Perkins Township where there is a three-man race for two seats featuring incumbent trustees Bill Dwelle and Tim Coleman, and former county commissioner candidate Mike Printy.

By the time the news team is done covering this election, every voter should be able to say, "I have all the information I need to make a good decision about who should lead." Hopefully those will be good decisions come November.