Everything one day comes to an end

Matt Westerhold
Nov 25, 2013

 

The Register's digital editor, Jason Werling, started a blog last week at sanduskyregister.com asking readers what changes they want to see at the news website.

“I would like to see having to log in to comment,” the second reader who commented at the blog said.

That's been debated for years, weighing the value of the interaction against the wild west-like attitude that some commenters have displayed. There were other readers at the blog who argued for keeping comments anonymous.

There have been times in the last five years when prejudices, biases and blatant racism showed up in the comments section at sanduskyregister.com in a way that was, at first, hard to comprehend.

Nearly five decades after the civil rights movement exposed the blatant racism of public officials in Montgomery, Ala., with their police dogs attacking children and their fire hoses turned on peaceful protesters, that same attitude was still apparent, right here on the North Coast, in the Register's comment section.

Unlike Montgomery police Chief (commissioner of public safety) Bull Conner, however, this modern-day racism was cloaked in the anonymity the comments section allowed. At times, we were forced to simply turn off the comments feature at the website; other times we allowed it to occur.

The anonymity allowed the sources of this racism to be hidden, but the question was should the Register hide that from the community by not allowing anonymous commenting. There is some value in knowing that some in our community are as racist today as Bull Conner was then.

The civil rights movement succeeded in an important way: It made that kind of racism go underground. A certain number of local residents still had those same attitudes, but expressing them openly is no longer an option. Too many people have become enlightened and will not tolerate it without responding.

There's nothing courageous about racist, anonymous commenting and then slinking away with a superior attitude. But racism is not the only problem with allowing anonymous commenting, and it's not the only thing about sanduskyregister.com that will be changing in 2014.

Comments drive traffic to the website, which is an important component for every newspaper developing new business models for digital products. The Sandusky Register's website enjoys robust traffic. There likely are few, if any, community newspapers anywhere that wouldn't gladly trade up for our traffic numbers.

In recent months the Register has changed its digital distribution of newspaper content at the website. Previously, stories were routinely “truncated,” or shortened considerably, and used as a tease for readers to purchase the daily print edition or the newspaper e-edition, an electronic replica of the newspaper available at the website.

Lately, however, we've been developing a “full distribution” model in which news stories are placed at the website in full without requiring readers to purchase the content. In addition, we've added other features, columns and content from the print edition into the “stream” of stories that get posted at the website.

The free, full-distribution services are temporary, however, in preparation for changes at sanduskyregister.com that will be made next year.

In 2014, Sandusky Newspapers Inc., which owns the Register and seven other newspapers, will make a major capital investment upgrading our technology and introducing a digital membership service.

There will still be content every day that readers can access at no charge, but the meat of our labors will be reserved for readers who pay us for our services. The specifics how this will work are still being reviewed, but how readers access news stories, and how they can comment at the website, will be changing.

Werling's blog asking readers what they want at the website is an integral part of that development process and there were many good suggestions from readers that will be incorporated in the changes that will be made.

Werling plans to continue getting feedback from readers each week at his blog, and reporting back on the developments and incorporating every good idea in the development. Go to the “Blogs” section at the homepage to share your thoughts at Werling's blog. 

Comments

Contango

Re: "There likely are few, if any, community newspapers anywhere that wouldn't gladly trade up for our traffic numbers."

And the number of commenters and interested readers of same aren't helping to cause those "hits" and didn't lead in turn to producing those inflated "numbers"?

Good luck with your new intended business model.

Licorice Schtick

The e-paper is unwieldy and not worth the price. It would be much better in HTML. I don't know why that's so hard. The New York Times has the look and feel of a Real Paper but is easy to navigate. Limited free access. You do need to "register" (no pun intended) but it's pretty seamless. Home subscribers get free access. Didn't the SR once do that?

http://www.nytimes.com/

cmit43

Im being thankful.. Google is paying 75$/hour! Just work for few hours & spend more time with friends and family. On sunday I bought themselves a Alfa Romeo from having made $5637 this month. its the best-job Ive ever had.It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out http://goo.gl/f6e95V

Contango

Re: "Montgomery, Ala.,"

Easy for moralistic Yankees to point fingers at the South and leave Boston and other Northern centers of racism out of the equation.

For one: Under Reconstruction southern states were required to allow blacks to vote, while northern ones like Ohio still practiced discrimination.

Sam

The public will pay for content that has is presented in a fair and unbiased manner. I agree racism is still a problem that society must address. Unfortunately sometimes racism is used as a diversion to take attention away from other issues or attempt to quell justifiable criticism.

Unassumer

I will not pay for online access for any newspaper. Although I like to know what's going on and to read and comment on stories, I think it should be free. I can live without it though and won't miss the stupid comments that appear with some stories.

moonbeam

How about having the e-paper online before 7:15am ?

deertracker

I won't pay for the online edition because I pay for the print edition. I am glad that changes are going to be made. Some of the comments were and still are just awful. The worst ones often had nothing to do with race. People are racist and honestly that is their right and no blog will change that. It is what it is. However, at times it really did seem as if the SR supported some of these views simply by not moderating the blog very well. It's time for a change!

BabyMomma

You're right. Ban Deertracker!! His comments and views are awful!

Darkhorse

Looks like someone went on vacation this week and forgot to put someone in charge of putting up the e-paper every morning? Hello, is someone paying attention? There is no e-paper this morning.

oldpirate

I don't care for the shell game the paper plays with comments. Moving them around to match them up with later comments which changes the meaning of the post. The paper surely steers the conversation the way they want to.

Licorice Schtick

They don't do that.

thinkagain's picture
thinkagain

Childlike naivety.

starryeyes83

Yes they do , pay attention to the time stamps. They did mine last week. I posted a comment at 11:30 at night and it was on there when I went to bed. The next morning my same comment was moved and a totally different time (morning was added) It also seemed some were missing . ..I'm so sure it was just a "glich" (ahem).

the unsilent majority's picture
the unsilent ma...

I think you will lose alot of the "traffic" you enjoy now by charging. I stopped buying your hard copy newspaper years ago because the price was high for a sunday paper thinner than a human hair. That decision didnt even take into acount the lack luster quality and poor delivery service. In todays age there are just to many other sources to get information from. Like the previous poster said I also enjoy reading the comments for a good chuckle but I dont enjoy it enough to be fed the majority of the nonsence you guys come up with.

tk

Sounds like the old "bait and switch" thing. Get people reading the online content for free, then when they are hooked, start charging them. No, thanks.

Stop It

Imagine that. The newspaper that prints and e-prints the racism now wants to charge for it. Everyone from this area knows the layout of Sandtown.

Blame the e-readership that your paper isn't making enough money because of the economy.

Can't wait to play...:)

MrSandusky

So the anonymous racist comments increase the web traffic, which in turn feeds into your business plan. Interesting...

I wonder how some of the advertisers feel knowing that the driving force behind the advertising pricing is racist fighting in the comments.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Mr. Sandusky, but you lack any understanding here and misinterpreted what is said in the column. Feel free to call me at 419-609-5866 if you, or anyone else, has questions about this.  

Good 2 B Me

Matt, aren't you the one that dropped the "N-Bomb" amongst other racist comments in an article not too long ago?

Matt Westerhold

Perhaps you're taking that out of context. The word was not used in a racist way. Re-read that column here

Good 2 B Me

Sorry Matt, but the "N-word" cannot be used in any way other than a racist way. It is the most racist word in the English Language. In or out of context, that word is brutal, even if it is listed in a story or given as an example.

BabyMomma

You must not watch South Park. Or The Chappelle Show. Or Blazing Saddles. It can be very funny. It can also be VERY nasty. It may be good 2 be you, but you are awfully narrow-minded. And you're white I assume?

Good 2 B Me

What does my color have to do with the use of the "N" word? There is no place for that word in our current world. It is a hatefilled word from a hatefilled past. It needs to be left there instead of being glorified by any movies, shows, actors, rappers or anyone else.

deertracker

You are wrong Good! Stay in your lane please!

Yellow Snow

Saying "The N-Word" is like typing MF. Both have the same meaning as the original words. How did "The N-word" and MF become acceptable?

Good 2 B Me

Exactly. Yet even here these people are defending it and saying that it is ok to use the "N" word. People like that have made it socially acceptable somehow.

BabyMomma

The word existed before it was ever a "racist" word.

SamAdams

I, too, find the racist comments distasteful. But the bottom line is that if you don't support speech with which you disagree, you don't support free speech. Besides, hearing such views out in the open means you can COUNTER such views out in the open. A little education for the obviously ignorant can't be such a bad thing, can it?

I don't CONDONE those racist comments, but there's something I find far more distasteful (not to mention threatening), and that's censoring everything somebody (and it doesn't matter who "somebody" is) finds disgusting or disagreeable. Many might be unpleasantly surprised at just how much some thin-skinned PC king or queen will deem "offensive!"

The Register is clearly about to attempt to regulate speech. Since it's speech disseminated courtesy of its own website gives them the ability and, unfortunately, the right to do so. That a news outlet would consider such a thing, however, is appalling. If the coming changes include a loss of anonymity and the accompanying censorship, then I won't play. Neither, I suspect, will a lot of other people.

Some food for thought for the Register powers that be: In an age when free speech is punished, can a free press (such as it is these days) be far behind?

Stop It

+1^^^

BabyMomma

+69

Peninsula Pundit

+1

the unsilent majority's picture
the unsilent ma...

+1 over and over and over

Centauri

+100

BabyMomma

In yo face Matt Westerhold.

The Big Dog's back

Right on sam baby.

pepper1530's picture
pepper1530

Why is there no e-paper this morning? If you look at the printed copy, all you see on the front page is a turkey - must be a really slow news day to put a full page picture of a turkey on the front page.

Darkhorse

If the country keeps going the way it is going, we won't have to worry about free speech because there will not be free speech. In a few more years, you won't recognize this country to be known as America.

Señor Clown

“I would like to see having to log in to comment”

Try typing sanduskyregister.com/user/logout into your address bar, press enter, and then try posting a comment. You already have to log in to comment.

Peninsula Pundit

+1

AJ Oliver

So, one can fight against racism by giving racists a protected anonymous platform from which to spew hatred ? I don't THINK so.

SamAdams

The racists are spewing hatred regardless of the platform. To let them spew on a platform like this means that their attitudes can be COUNTERED just as publicly. I'd much rather at least attempt to change a mind or two than to think the spewing is fomenting in secret until it boils over!

In the event of CRIMINAL threats and the like, well, the authorities can identify you regardless of your anonymity here. But short of criminality, are you suggesting that certain speech should be limited? And if so, what if it's YOURS? I find your promotion of censorship to be offensive, just for example...

Contango

Reminds me:

“You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.”

- John Morley

If intelligent debate and discussions were forthcoming, this could be a forum for potential conversions.

Instead, burying the problem tends to only allow it to fester and grow unobserved and solves NOTHING.

Stop It

You "don't" think, AJ. Therein lies the problem. You've shown enough evidence of who you are and what you are in these comment sections to have your identity stolen. That is NO LIE.

OMG.LOL.WT_

'lots of Luck" with your charges. http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/...

Contango

IMO, no one should really be too hard on Mr. Westerhold.

The web has most users believing that content should be free. He's just trying to figure out how to keep the ship afloat and get he and his staff paid.

About my only issue is with the use of the racism straw man as the causal agent.

As my late father-in-law used to say:

The nerve that controls the body leads to the hip pocket.

IMO, financials are at play here – not racism or any other excuse.

Peninsula Pundit

Are we to understand, Mr.Westerhold, that you do not realize that no one is really anonymous on the internet? Review recent articles concerning the NSA.
Or that by bringing on something like Facebook login will reveal anyone who dares posts racist comments?
I believe you to be a tech-savvy type, so why post such specious arguments for changing format?
I also believe your comments about your web traffic being the envy of other community papers. These other papers have gone to the facebook login and truncated story format you are going to adopt and as a result, lost their web traffic.
Let me clue you in from someone who is far from being an internet genius:
I have had a facebook page to post from which reveals nothing about me for a couple years already.
I have found a simple way to defeat the truncated story format, such as the PC Nude Harold uses that does not involve any fancy programming knowledge.
I certainly am under no illusion that I am the only person able to figure this out.
So your reasons for changing format are already defeated and the result will be an almost complete loss of your enviable web traffic.
Golly, papers are already hurting enough in this technological revolution and you are going to willingly scotch the one thing the Register has going for it?
Make it easy on yourself: Just end the comments section now. The only difference between this course of action and your proposed one is only one of when your website traffic disappears.

Contango

Re: "Golly, papers are already hurting enough in this technological revolution and you are going to willingly scotch the one thing the Register has going for it?"

Excellent point.

Stop It

+1

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Peninsula, but it's possible you might think you know more than you actually do. The column was written without any stealth motives, or agenda beyond what it states. It is what it is, as they say. 

Contango

@ Mr. Westerhold:

Agreed that there was some speculation, but what was important IMO was PP's reiteration your own statement.

"The Sandusky Register's website enjoys robust traffic. There likely are few, if any, community newspapers anywhere that wouldn't gladly trade up for our traffic numbers."

As you yourself state: The commenters have intrinsic value.

How to quantify that becomes the issue.

Peninsula Pundit

That's happened before, Matt.
I'll readily admit it.
Contango, I believe that was your point first.
I just sharpened the tip a bit.

eriemom

Racism does exist. I would rather see it than hide from it. I wonder if this is actually related to comments about the Perkins school levy passage. I remember Dr. Gunner commenting that the cause of the failure was this same newspaper's comment section.

Without freely given comments the board would have continued to believe that their actions were accepted by the community with little understanding about why their school levy failed. The failure was not caused by anonymous comment posts. It was caused by group think.

Finn Finn

This is EXACTLY what I thought immediately eriemom, when I first read the original Mailbag question from "Sarah in Sandusky". The ground swell of NO voters started right here. NO voters realized they weren't alone in their thinking and became more vocal in their opposition, complete with yard signs, etc. Gunner saw how this comment section galvanized No voters and he didn't like it. Finally, an effective tool to use to prevent School Boards from beating down the public with endless attempts to pass new levies.

Peninsula Pundit

You bring up a good point about the 'group think' I hadn't considered and is quite valid for what it is. This forum may have also unknowingly led to the capture of criminals or a lead in a news story. In that respect, the comments are worth more than the paper.
However, the Register is not obligated to be the forum, though one would think it speaks to the very essential of news-gathering: Keeping one's ear to the ground.
So, let the Register scotch the comments section or handicap it. Ultimately, the loss will be theirs both financially and informationally.

ladydye_5

I will not pay for the "new" paper either.

thinkagain's picture
thinkagain

Hallelujah!

Stop It

Matt is just stirring crap in the pee pot. It isn't obvious?

Centauri

Only unbiased and truthful news media can weed out corruption. Biased newspapers that hold back on the truth or the lies only promote corruption.

http://www.sott.net/

http://blacklistednews.com/

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-...
"What is an Investigative Reporter?"

the unsilent majority's picture
the unsilent ma...

As I continue reading the comments from the public and the responces by mr. Westerhold I come to realize two things. Mr. Westerhold seems to be an arrogant disillusioned person. How do you counter an opinion from one of your readers a.k.a. customer with a statement that essentially said, you dont know what your talking about so your thoughts are invalid. Thought two..... I truely believe that this just might be a way to suppress the voices that call the register out on their bullspit. Again these are my opinions which is what a comment section is for. Granted the old saying is opinions are like buttholes. Everyone has one and they all stink...... but sometimes thoes opinions lead to some revolutionary ideas.

Matt Westerhold

Ouch. 

BabyMomma

Wow! Now that is mature. Real class act. If that is what you have to offer, than silence is your ticket to success

AnyMajDude

I find reading the blogs a method of understanding what other’s think & feel about the articles posted. As I do not get out talking and hearing what a diverse cross section of society are saying, the blogger’s comments good, bad & ugly bring to light how they really feel. For me, this is sort of a finger on the pulse of the community so to speak. It’s apparent that there are lots of social ills in all of the communities out there; too bad the community leaders are not paying attention.
As others have noted here, I will not pay for the electronic version, as I still “read the paper”! Old School is not always bad! As a business case, you gotta do what you gotta do, good luck!

BabyMomma

I agree. I usually learn more about any given topic from the comments more so than the article itself. The article has to be "politically correct" more than the commenters have to.

Dr. Information

75% of the comments on any given hot topic are nothing more than name calling, making threats against ones life...etc. Do you people live such disturbing lives that you have to read that stuff or you wont survive?

Nemesis

75% - Really? Your math skills are not strong. Namecalling is about 5% and threats less than 1%.

queenjhb

Matt, the comment section really is great the way it is , I've given my opinion and even had my opinion changed by what commenters had to add. I even believe it has been the start of grass root ideas that have been embraced by the community. I hope the changes don't lose this.

Kottage Kat

Matt,
It's been a good run.
Have wantedto say this for a long time.
HISS ON YOU MATT WESTERHOLD
DA KAT with a K

Centauri

http://www.experienceproject.com...
"Why don't Newspapers tell the truth?"

Read the comments

Centauri

http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/re...
"Journalism’s First Obligation Is to Tell the Truth"

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Centauri for the link. A journalist's job, it seems to me, is to pursue the best, most factual information available, verify that information, and verify it again. Many times that means reporting on public documents and what is represented in those public documents, which may, or may not be truthful. A journalist cannot know whether the information documented by public officials is truthful beyond accurately reporting that information. We are not arbiters of truth; we are chroniclers of information in the public domain. For example, if someone is falsely accused of holding up a bank and is charged with bank robbery, it is accurate to say that person has been accused of bank robbery even though it is not a fact — it is not truthful — that this person is a bank robber. In the end it would be up to a court to determine whether this person robbed the bank, and even though falsely accused, a judge or a jury could convict an innocent person of bank robbery. It would be truthful to write, "John Doe, 37, was convicted of bank robbery," but it would not be accurate or truthful to say he is a bank robber if he was wrongfully convicted.  

Centauri

"Many times that means reporting on public documents and what is represented in those public documents, which may, or may not be truthful."

And this is why a need to dig deeper. There are witnesses who observed public meetings and court trials where the public records recorded were false.

Centauri

https://sites.google.com/site/ma...
"newspapers have a duty to truth... [but] they tell the truth only as the exception"

Centauri

I predict that within 5 years, the Sandusky Register will cease to exit.

Contango

Re: "I predict that within 5 years, the Sandusky Register will cease to exit."

Rather doubt it.

It may become like others: A publication that's printed a few times a week and/or totally web-based with both subscription and free content.

The industry has become tough, no doubt about it.

I used to sell print advertising for specialized publications and got out when the gittin' was good.

Centauri

Competition to the Sandusky Register could be on the horizon. Maybe not a printed newspaper but a website based news media. Many people are getting fed up with biased reporting. Many sheeple are starting to wise up.

Contango

Re: "Competition to the Sandusky Register could be on the horizon."

If a well-heeled entrepreneur cares to try, it could be interesting.

Advertisers and eyeballs are the fuel that would ultimately determine its success or failure.

The SR has name recognition, tradition and goodwill, obstacles any usurper would have to struggle to overcome.

Matt Westerhold

Do you really believe there will be no appetite for local news coverage five years from now? Be sure to buy a copy of Thursday's Thanksgiving edition and try to count the number of advertisers that still know — regardless of a changing industry — the Sandusky Register continues to provide the best and most effective advertising opportunities in the five-county region. 

Centauri

If the Limberios shooting happened in Erie County, OHIO, it would have been swept under the rug. The Sandusky County Register is only wishful thinking. If the Sandusky Register told the whole truth and exposed the lies and not hold back, it would be known as the OHIO Register with circulation in the hundreds of thousands. The Ohio Register could be the largest newspaper in the nation and could expand to other states.

Matt Westerhold

Excellent comment. That's big-picture thinking Centauri. 

Centauri

Here is a bigger picture, Matt:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ta...
"Death of Newspapers"

Matt, Do you recall the Cleveland Press (OHIO) and their biased reporting about the Sam Sheppard murder trial? What happened to the Cleveland Press?

http://www.ohio.edu/ethics/2001-...
"In fact, The Cleveland Press was clearly the most opinionated and unfair newspaper involved in the entire trial. Running articles with unusually large headlines and enormous photos drew attention to the trial. In fact, they ran some of the most scandalous and scathing editorials – some of which had direct influence on the outcome of the trial."

Matt Westerhold

The links you provide are usually very interesting. Thanks for sharing. 

oldpirate

Centauri you been drinkn my whiskey?

Centauri

Nope, not me.

grumpy

The decision on what to change and how to sign in was made before Jason Werling ever brought it up in his blog. They "may" have changed their minds if something they hadn't already considered had been brought up. But nothing new or "earth shattering" was suggested. Those who run companies may ask for "suggestions" when changing things around but they have already decided and are just seeing if anything they haven't considered is brought up. It makes the, in this case readers and commenters feel they had some say in the matter. Hope it made folks feel special.

I will wait and see what and how things are changed and then decide if I stick around or go somewhere else.

I was surprised about the race ramblings in the article. Seemed trumped up and/or exaggerated to what I have read here the last few months. But maybe others are more touchy on the subject than I and see race in most comments they don't agree with.

Yellow Snow

It was cheap-shot to ask readers what they wanted to see in the Register, only to turn around and cut free content that so many enjoy.
The piss-ants delivering this news are small compared to all of Sandusky Newspapers Inc. and I doubt a local or two have any real influence on decisions.

http://www.grandhaventribune.com...

The Register loves to stir the pot, it . In August of this year the following article appeared in the Register.
http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...

Several asked how "diverse" the Register is, as they wrote this article, yet we received no response. You don't have it both ways.

Due to a layoff in the our house a few years ago, I quit buying the Register daily, then I cut garbage pickup (it's optional in the township). Ironic, best move I made on both bills.

I propose a "No Comments Day from the Readership" on Tuesdays and Wednesdays until January. Let's give them a dry run at this.

KURTje

See grump you get it a bit. (Those in "authority") To you Matt when I called a person a race disgrace (she denigrated Sandusky Cops with her racial stuff towards them) you removed my comment. You can never be a Marine. Another example of America.

grumpy

Those that own a business can do with it as they please. If the consumer doesn't like it they can decide not to partake. If the company loses consumers it stops being profitable. Unless the owner(s) are willing to proceed at a loss, most companies will either change to what their former consumers want/prefer, they will cease to exist, or be sold to others.

As I stated race has been blown out of proportion the last few years. It has even degraded to become something used to stop debates when one side or the other brings it up when it is not part of the debate. People are diluting the term from overuse and misuse of the term, making actual racism less meaningful/dreadful.

In the real world few want to be a Marine. It can be rather limiting for some. But if you wish to make that your standard for life you are free to do so, I doubt many care. I could never be a writer.. or a nurse... or a priest/preacher...nor many other occupations.

Julie R.

The Sandusky Register isn't going anywhere. It will be still be here 5 years from now and even 10. Personally, I hope so, anyway. It's almost like a family tradition. I can still remember my 92-year-old grandmother reading the Sandusky Register --- she couldn't go a day without it!

KURTje

Well grump don't know if it was Matt that contacted us; but we were contacted about a combat scenario by this paper. My blood did make national news on aforementioned fight. This was a few years back. They were not granted an interview for various reasons. Over the years some of the reasons validated why. truth is most will not listen to another's opinion & or facts. Such is most America.

Dr. Information

Racism is played by both sides. Just check out the recent "knock out game" played by your local thug knee grow targeting the common white cracker people. Yeah, its not a one sided street. Racism is kept alive by both sides.

donutshopguy

I enjoy the varied comments on numerous subjects. I enjoy the debate with many posters. I will still continue to post with my name when the change takes place.

I will not give up my constitutional rights to free speech.

Nemesis

You won't have the varied comments or the debate any more. Eventually you'll abandon it out of sheer boredom.

Megalomania

Westerhold and Werling,

Was there ever a chance that input received regarding comments could have any effect on "your" decision regarding identifying commentators, or is this a corporate decision that you have tried to sell as wanted by your customers?

Are you willing to let the comment section wither away?

Was/is there any pressure from political or governmental "leaders" to change the format? It is obvious how this could be beneficial to certain interests.

Werling, does your Perkins School relationship have anything to do with the commentator identification? To many it seems as though this is largely to do with shutting up the opposition to Perkins levies.
It is obvious that levy opposition would be largely silenced if identified, to keep retaliation away from children and family attending Perkins.

Jason Werling

Megalomania-

All the dialogue here and in my recent blog is being taken into consideration with any future decisions on how we move forward.

I think there is a general feeling in the community, not just some "leaders," of disenchantment with the Register. Many have tried to have a dialogue in our online community using their real names and have been blasted by anonymous people. I hear this sentiment in the community in face-to-face conversations.

I believe you will have a level playing field and an online community that supports itself and has a healthier dialogue if it were non-anonymous. It might take a while, but I'm optimistic.

I'm sure everyone that grasps on to their anonymous identity vehemently disagrees with this.

Any whistleblowers will still be able to contact the Register at anytime with news tips or things the newspaper should look into. That line of communication has been around since way before any newspaper had a comments section.

I'm not sure what you mean by Perkins School relationship other than my kids attending the schools there. It is the job of any journalist to stay objective and the role of the readership to decide if that objectivity is achieved. 

As far as "shutting up the opposition," I think the vote no portion of the community had their coverage in the Register just as much as the vote yes portion of the community. I'm sure both sides would argue the other side had more coverage.

 

Nemesis

"I believe you will have a level playing field and an online community that supports itself and has a healthier dialogue if it were non-anonymous."

Then I have a bridge to sell you. The chilling effect on the expression of minority viewpoints on controversial issues has been repeatedly demonstrated. Furthermore, identities only distract from ideas.

Contango

Jason Werling writes: "non-anonymous"?

Not a word.

http://thesaurus.com/browse/anon...

Good luck with your new business plan.

Megalomania

Thanks Werling,
Your statement above proves your bias.
Your naivety is astounding in regards to free speech.
People will not be as forthcoming when they KNOW retribution is a sure reward for their opinions.
Using myself as an example, I would never use my real identity here given my job and status.

And, how do you quantify a "general feeling" of the community.... come on!

I know you are a good guy Jason, we share some of the same friends.

Just stop trying to rationalize the decisions being made as just.... you could easily enforce your current rules to reach your stated objectives while still giving those who wish to remain anonymous a voice.

Effectively silencing free speech because of a few jerks seems totally contrary to how any journalist worth his salt would react.

Centauri

"Any whistleblowers will still be able to contact the Register at anytime with news tips or things the newspaper should look into. That line of communication has been around since way before any newspaper had a comments section."

How about a story about the "partnership" between Erie County (OHIO) and the Kelleys Island ferry company?

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/...
"In Ohio, the largest grant -- $2.72 million -- went to a partnership of the Kelleys Island ferry operator and Erie County, to build a 160-foot vessel."

The SR has been given all types of leads confidentially and publicly.

Can you imagine "Deep Throat" giving Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward his true identity?

Centauri

This morning, I received an email from "Sarah from Perkins" wanting to know why the Perkins Township (Erie County, OHIO) trustee meeting minutes are not up to date.

I checked to verify and found that the meeting minutes were months behind.

http://www.perkinstownshipohio.c...

I see that there are no meeting minutes updates since April 23, 2013. I also see that the meeting minutes from March 12 and March 26. 2013 were skipped over and not online. Now there is a news tip that the Sandusky Register can write about.

When I went to the home page of the township, I saw this under Recent News:

http://perkinsfire.com/
"The Perkins Township Trustees will hold a special executive session on November 15, 2013 to discuss purchase of property for public use."

Now there is another news tip to report on.

Centauri

"Any whistleblowers will still be able to contact the Register at anytime with news tips or things the newspaper should look into"

I expected to see a few additional comments after my last comment a few hours ago. What a bunch of sorry a$$ simpletons and sheeple that live in Ohio.

The question is:
What happens to whistleblowers? I could post hundreds of links to show you.

http://ethics.csc.ncsu.edu/old/1...
"The popular notion persists that whistleblowers are crazy and vengeful malcontents."

http://www.politico.com/story/20...
"What happens to whistleblowers?"

http://blog.longreads.com/post/5...
"5 Stories on What Happens to Whistleblowers After They Speak Out"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...
"Whistleblowers, Beware: Most Claims End In Disappointment, Despair"

There is no demand for whistleblowers. The sheeple will not allow it. The news media will ignore whistleblowers.

Coram Deo

Having been born and raised in Erie County and now transplanted to Richland County I have observed this about the Mansfield News Journal: when they changed from anonymous commenting to Facebook linked comment requirements the comment section to most stories went flat, they are almost non-existent now. A few here and there but nothing like the robust participation at the beginning. Perhaps this is what the SR actually wants.

Nemesis

Well, entry into a publicly visible field like journalism usually involves some need to be center stage in everyone's attention, and our comments do tend to detract from the service of that impulse.