Archive

Posts Tagged ‘comments’

The best (and worst) comments about Osoyoos Times saga

February 18, 2012 Comments off

As a general rule, I don’t read websites’ comments sections. Generally, they seem to be filled out by writers who just like to see their words on a screen. Debate turns into sniping too quickly, and actual conversation is drowned out by idiots.

In general, though, the more niche an audience or community, the better the comments section. This blog usually appeals to no more than a couple hundred writers. That fact means that the comments section has thus far functioned as certain web utopians think online discussions should: enabling interested parties to engage in a thoughtful discussion and fostering community.

Clearly, though, things go awry when Joe and Jane Public get involved.

Last week, thousands of visitors interested in the Osoyoos Times thing visited this blog. Dozens took the time to comment. Some posts were thoughtful. Others showed emotion. Some drew on personal experience. And others were idiotic, mean-spirited, repetitive or pointless.

For those who didn’t want to wade through all those, I’ve collected a handful of the best comments. Sometime in the near future, I plan to write about what (I think) the whole episode says about, and means to, local B.C. journalists. (I’ll also exerpt Jeff Lee’s comments at that time, instead of below).

Anyways, some half-decent comments:

Anonymous:

I really hope that the RCMP releases this video. If you didn’t do anything wrong then you should have no problem doing as a police officer asks. The whole article that this editor wrote sounds ridiculous. How can he think a breathalyzer test is a ‘traumatizing experience’? His girlfriend in tears and sick?

People like this editor are ridiculous, thinking that the police are out to get them. Sounds like all the Cpl was doing was his job…trying to keep people from driving drunk, who cares if you get pulled over, blow into the machine and go on you merry way. It means the police are precautious and are making sure no one is driving impaired.

This Editor totally abused his power as a writer and a reporter. The video needs to be released.

The whole tone of the editor’s article is amateur.

Fred:

The RCMP Officer was doing his job. Too many people die from drunk drivers every year. In Canada, the latest information suggests that of the 3,045 individuals killed in traffic accidents, 1,239 were the result of drunk driving. On average, that is almost 4 people per day.

The officer does not have to apologize to you. He did not have to kiss your butt just because you were not over the legal limit. Good for you. Everyone that is driving a vehicle should be just the same. Did you want an award for being an ass to an officer that risks his life everyday. Next time you are in need of help in any way I am sure you would call the police. These officers are doing their job and it is great to see. You should do your job and write about something that is more important like drunk drivers and their families that have to cope with the loss. Great story Osoyoos Editor. This story will bring you lots of readers but they are not in your favor.

Greg Irvine:

I was an RCMP member for 28 years and became used to small town newspapers using their publications for their own one sided rants although I must say this one likely takes the cake. I look forward to the retraction from the ‘editor’ and please advise us all out here when the date is set for us all to have a look at the video and see the ‘real story’. I assume Mr. Lacey would have no problem with this…..would he??

Tom Larkin:

“…Connecting the dots to reach an incorrect conclusion is the privilege of the general public and not that of a professional journalist.” It’s reassuring to see so many, non journalists, exercising their inherent right to jump to conclusions and expressing same via their right to freedom of speech. To comment on the issue at hand through the use of hyperbole in support of one’s own paradigm does little to foster credibility for any stated argument. As the axiom goes, “better to remain silent and thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

Anonymous:

The Motor Vehicle Act allows any police officer in BC to stop a vehile to check for three things; check for a valid drivers license, check for valid insurance and to check the sobriety of the driver. For some reason Mr. Lacey thinks a person operating a motor vehicle has to do something wrong before they can be stopped, and goes on to say that this is a free country and not a police state. If Mr. Lacey knew anything he would understand that this only applies in the USA where there must be a violation before a traffic stop can be conducted.


Then Mr. Lacey says that Cpl McLeod did not have reasonable or probable grounds to be conducting an appoved screening device test. Again, if Mr. Lacey knew anything he would understand that an officer only has to have a suspicion of the presence of alcohol in the drivers body, upon determing care and control of the motor vehicle.

Reasonable grounds is not required because the driver is not yet under arrest. The approved screening device allows the officer to move from a suspicion to forming the opinion that the driver has committed an offence under Section 253 (a) of the Criminal Code of Canada. In this instance it would appear that the officer could articulate his suspicion, which is all that is requried. A valid breath sample on average take about 3-5 seconds and requires the subject to blow into the end of a plastic tube while standing roadside, hardly a traumatizing experience.

It is in-appropriate for Mr. Lacey to write his OPINION in a column that may be misunderstood by readers as factual. To tell the true version of events he should perhaps consider telling both sides of the story and have an understanding of the BC Motor Vehicle Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.

[I like that comment, but the last sentence is notable (and irritating) in how it shows how the public sees opinion writing versus news writing. Opinion writing does need to be factual, but it can also be slanted towards one’s opinon, obviously.]

Jack:

Suck it newsie! I hate the media.

Anonymous

Jesus came our debt to pay, Saved our soul in grace one day; So in love we all should live, Ready always to forgive!
WHEN IT SEEMS YOU CAN’T FORGIVE,
REMEMBER HOW MUCH YOU’VE BEEN FORGIVEN!

This is certainly a good lesson to all of us looking in & judging & wanting this mans life to come to ruin from his mistake obviously made! I just hope that he can see what he has done & move onto being a better human being!
Lets face it! we have all made mistakes, some bigger than others, but that is no reason to crusify!

[I’m not a huge Jesus aficionado, but I like the sentiment.]

Tom Larking, again:

I don’t think anyone is saying that this gentleman is unworthy of being forgiven. It really is more of a case of a “stone thrower” getting hit with his own ricocheting rock! The question then becomes, “Did he learn from the experience?” No one is questioning his value as a person. It is more of a case of just identifying to the media that one of their own has acted poorly. Now let’s see as an entitiy whether or not the media can hold themselves to the same standards of behaviour and reporting that they impose on the rest of society. If this reporter has not learned from his experience then he is simply destined to repeat it. Next time, if there is a next time, the cost of the lesson may be more expensive than just embarrassment. No real harm done here, just the red face of embarrasment. I think we have all been there, some of us maybe even more than one. It’s call life. Learn from it and move on.

John Taylor:

I am somewhat confused how someone “wrote the truth”, yet needs to apologise. You don’t apologise for the truth. It is fair to say that if the officer in question had been in the wrong he would not have lost his job; rather, some disciplinary action would have been taken.

Mr Lacey, if he is truly remorseful, should not receive a life sentence for a lapse of judgement. Nobody died here, someone just made a stupid mistake…

And then John and Tom break for some geneology chat:

John: Did you know there is a school in Winnipeg named after your name sake? I went to John Taylor Collegiate in Winnipeg in the early 70’s. Just thought you’d like to know. Cheers..Tom Larkin

Tom: The Taylor family at one time had a plan for total world domination; unfortunately, due to our move to BC, we got distracted by the warmer weather and forgot all about it…

Seriously,it’s interesting you mention that as my grandfather was a schoolmaster in Scotland back before the turn of the century… Taylor was the Singh of the 19th century I think… we were all over the place!

Another great one from a cop:

I’ll have to remain somewhat anonymous, as RCMP members are under scrutiny to not be seen as influencing social media sites… and I’m no spokesperson so I can’t comment on this incident specifically. What I’d like to say though, is the type of service people experience from police is often a reflection on the ‘tone’ of their community. If there is a certain group of people, especially in a smaller town, that sees it as a game to try ‘get away’ with whatever they can – then the police often get pushed into a response-driven method of policing where tickets and enforcement are needed. Basically, because there is no respect for the rules a community expects its citizens to abide by, and the police become a focus for this lack of social skill.

Because that is what we are really talking about… it’s not about driving drunk, or going 10 km/h over the speed limit. It’s about a group of people, your friends and neighbours, participating in a system of laws that are based on their own values. Police don’t make the rules, but as community members we participate in this process as well. The majority of people have decided that impaired driving is a cause worthy of significant penalty. And, courts have decided that some Charter Rights can be bent to accomodate the goal of public safety (Check Stops for example). So, when someone chooses to drive drunk – they are creating a risk, committing an offence, and my job is to stop that from happening. Because that is what the people in my community have asked me to do.

The issue that always bothers me about drunk drivers is their lack of respect. It reveals itself in their hatred for police, and that is just part of the job, but it really bugs me that they feel so disconnected from their community that they risk so much just to ‘stick it to the man’.

Being a safe, sober driver isn’t about complying with ‘big brother’ or police abusing their power. It is about a citizen abusing THEIR power. It is them choosing to disregard their community’s expectations on civil behaviour because of some selfish of immature reason.

it’s the same attitude of people that we go deal with endless noise complaints, whose dogs run free and terrorize the kids, drive their ATV’s in the campground, or who otherwise just don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves.

So… that is where I come in. Because I do give a shit. And I completely expect that in the course of my lawful duties, that this polar opposite in attitudes is going to create conflict. I don’t enjoy the conflict… or dealing with the Public Complaints Commission… but, I sleep quite soundly every night knowing that being fair and professional as a police officer sometimes means some people are going to be unhappy.

But, I think of the other people that I’ve made happier – and it all works out just fine. I don’t often hear from the happier people, but every now and then one of them will let me know I’m doing my job.

So to Mr. Editor, I thank you for letting me and the community know that there is someone doing their job just fine in Osooyos. To each their own in deciding which person they want that comment to refer to.

And somebody points out that the RCMP letter may not cast the writer in the best light either:

The editor was miles out of line for many reasons, most of them noted above – and he should lose his job.

BUT

What about the threat in Supt. Bernoties final sentence: “I look forward to a retraction or correction and to, potentially, facilitating the public’s viewing of this video.” If I said I had a video of you doing something embarrassing that would cause you to lose your job and demanded you do something or I’d make it public, what’s that called

Blackmail. An unprofessional threat at the very least. Is Cst. Julian Assange working in the RCMP media room now?

And why is everyone jumping to the conclusion that the video would be damning of Mr. Lacey? Why not just release the full, unedited video instead of issuing public threats? The Vancouver Police Department set that precedent with the guy smashing the bus window with his skateboard. The RCMP’s version insinuates Lacey was acting like a major twerp in the video – maybe he is, maybe he’s not and the RCMP is calling the kettle black with their own defamatory attack.

In my opinion, this pissing contest is soaking everyone involved – including you and me when we foot the court costs for two defamation lawsuits.

And one of the worst that I really felt the need to address:

RCMP member “Mike” advocates clamping down on free speech:

Don’t write cheques with your mouth that your ass can’t cash. As police officers, we deal with these types of false complaints all of the time from self rightious complainers who believe that they will have the officer fired for their “tramatic event”.

Reality is, the RCMP are being transparent, respectful in their response, and have physical proof of their comments. The so called Jounalist has nothing except for a vomiting g/f witness who I would have no doubt say that she was “tramatized” as well.

I am not saying all police officers are angels but any officer who is attempting to enter into an Impaired Driving Investigation should be applauded, not shamed. Too many times we have to attend MVA,s or Veh/Pedestrian accidents due to a self rightious driver who is better than the cops and “won’t get caught cause they never do”. The general public continue to drink and drive because they do get away with it. Job well done to the RCMP.

To the “jounalist”, speaking of abuse of power, nice job in using a public forum and paper to commit Public Mischief. Yes that is a criminal code charge, so now you may be treated like one. Being in a paper, there are plenty of witnesses. I hope to see your name in the paper next…..in the court readings.

Really? Public mischief? The day something I write gets me charged with public mischief is the day I frame my court summons.

Black Press bails on anonymous comments

November 21, 2011 3 comments

Today, Black Press announced that it was changing its online comments policy and will henceforth only allow readers to comment after signing in with their Facebook identity.

Rob DeMone explained the move thusly:

The policy has led to some unpleasant and mean-spirited postings. It’s also raised an inconsistency in our Black Press​ brand. Our community newspapers don’t print anonymous letters, yet we’ve allowed our websites to become a place where people can hide their identity while occasionally taking shots at one another.

more…

DeMone notes that the move is of a kind with those made by other media companies which have introduced similar policies. He says it has resulted in good discussion with less sniping and assholery.

The downside is obvious: no Facebook profile, no comments. Indeed, it has already drawn the ire of commenters for that reason.

But DeMone has responded by noting that those people can always send a letter to the editor. Which seems like a good comeback.

My take is that, all things considered, only a tiny fraction of those who read Black Press papers end up commenting online. So even if you drive all of them away, it’s probably not going to hurt the paper. But by putting a name to a comment, the policy should encourage the less-crazy-but-still-opinionated slice of society to take part. It may also (although I’m unsure of the law surrounding comments) insulate the chain from the legal risk posed by anonymous comments. It sure can’t hurt.

Of course, you can still leave a comment on this blog, anonymously or not. I continue to allow anonymous comments because sometimes, when discussing one’s employer, it’s necessary to avoid using one’s name. On other topics, it’s less desired. I would block a comment that uses anonymity to attack another journalist, but fortunately the blog’s readership is such that I’ve never had to do so.

Leave a comment below.

Categories: Technology Tags: , ,

Tunnel vision, cranky editors, and very ambiguous headlines

March 21, 2011 Comments off

Some curiosities from the past week in the Interior:

Prince George Free Press editor Bill Phillips writes on his blog about how his cranky editorness caused him to not fall victim to the Enbridge hair hoax that bamboozled many news outlets last week.

This headline in Columbia Valley Pioneer, “Crook family history revealed in new book,” can be read the wrong way. (The family are Crooks, not criminals.)

Last Friday, the Nelson Star published a list, as part of an ongoing series of West Kootenay-related lists, of three abandoned highway tunnels, including one between Slocan and Silverton that was built more than 80 years ago, as the seventh part in a series of West Kootenay-related lists. It’s a good thing the list didn’t run one week later because on Sunday the Star reported that that same Slocan highway tunnel collapsed last week, possibly on the same day the paper went to press. (Remember, the tunnel was abandoned).

The Tampa Bay Lightning released Salmon Arm product Mitch Fadden from his minor league contract after the Salmon Arm Observer broke the news earlier this month that Fadden is facing drunk driving charges (although the Observer didn’t mention Fadden’s NHL connection in that story).

So the Kamloops Daily News ran an article about a man who was unhappy about having to pray at an AA meeting and the comments duly began — some fairly tame, others pretty vicious. And so the Daily News published an editorial pointing out that some of the commenters were a tad impolite and intolerant. I was going to write that this all makes one consider the point of comments in the first place, but then I remembered some of the letters my paper receives and publishes. I guess I can’t be against discussion and free speech, even though those who tend to lead the way are often imbecilic racists.

Ambiguous headline No. 2 comes from the Penticton Western News: “Penticton student heads to Midway.” Midway, some will know, is a small town two hours from Penticton. It looks like this in winter:

And for Midway residents who read that headline,  the story’s lede could be taken the wrong way:

While many high school students are looking forward to spring break as a chance to kick back or perhaps even travel with their family to Europe, Mexico or some other exotic locale, Emily Chartrand is making plans to go a bit farther afield, at least in terms of distance from civilization.

more…

The student, for those who must know, is going to the Midway Islands, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Don’t get me wrong about the story: there’s nothing wrong with it. But the lede combined with the headline is just plain funny.

And I’m slow on the uptake here, but former Vernon Morning Star reporter Natalie Appleton was shortlisted for a national short fiction award. She also recently finished her memoir, How to Meet a Nice Man from Medicine Hat, and is expecting a baby so all in all, sounds like a good year for Natalie, who’s now teaching at Okanagan College.

Oh, and two jobs, by the way: the Trail Daily Times needs an editor and the Rocky Mountain Goat needs a full-time reporter.

Photo by Havan Kevin via Flickr.

****

This blog had more visitors in February than any previous months. It’s still a one-person show, though, so any help would be great. It’s easy, quick and the pay is shite. E-mail bclocalreporter (at) gmail (dot) com.

Have I made an error? It wouldn’t be the first time. Leave a comment and I’ll shamefully update the post.

We’re making inroads into our census of B.C. community newspapers, but there are still a lot of blanks in the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. How many journalists work at your paper? How often do you come out? Who’s your publisher? Participation is free! The benefits unlimited! The exclamation points boundless!

Calling all journalism students

February 7, 2011 1 comment

Because you can’t see comments on the main page (you have to click on the post’s title), sometimes they can fly under the radar. For that reason I’m going to repost a comment here by Nelson Star reporter Andrea Klassen, who suggests that some ambitious journalism student should take note and write a kick-ass paper on the whole Nelson Star/Express/Daily News hubbub that has taken place in the last year. She commented:

Since the NDN closed last summer, I’ve thought Nelson would be a great study for some intrepid journalism student doing their honours review. With the Express gone and a couple new print things percolating around town in addition to the online sites, it seems like a better and better idea all the time—especially since I don’t think there’s a local journalist with enough distance on the issue to ever get at the full story, myself most definitely included.

I couldn’t agree more.

Open thread: the blogger’s copout

December 23, 2010 2 comments

So the holiday season has pretty much started and Christmas is here and, maybe by the time you read this, gone.

I doubt that I’ll have much time to post so I’m opening the phone lines up.

Your topic, if you choose to accept it, is to ruminate on podcasts… Are they a good idea? Would they have an audience? Would you have time to do one? Do you listen to any? Are you afraid of a microphone? What are they good for? Pro/con?

Leave a comment.

Go to comments.

******************

Help keep this blog running for weeks to come by becoming a link farmer. It’s easy, quick and the pay is shite. E-mail bclocalreporter@gmail.com. Also, take the poll on the right. It’s free. Lucky you.

Have I made an error? It wouldn’t be the first time. Leave a comment and I’ll duly update the post.

We’re making inroads into our census of B.C. community newspapers, but there are still a lot of blanks in the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. How many journalists work at your paper? How often do you come out? Who’s your publisher? Participation is free! The benefits unlimited! The exclamation points boundless!

Photo by Gregg O’Connell via Flickr.
Categories: Comments Tags: ,

Comments: long live online journalism; and live blogs: good or useless?

December 16, 2010 1 comment

If you post a comment, and you’re not a spam-bot or a crazy, odds are I’ll repost it because this WordPress theme kind of hides comments.

Chris Shepherd, overseer of News in the Koots and the Nelson Post, among others (right Chris?), responds to my post on Patch by commenting that online journalism saved him from PR. In my opinion, if the Internet can stop one person from entering PR it’s a force for good.

Greetings, Anonymous.

I couldn’t resist responding to this post seeing as it references two of my sites (the Nelson Post and News in the Kootenays).

I don’t know whether sites like mine will save us or send us to the hot place, but it has put me back into journalism in the town I love. I worked at a weekly here in Nelson (the Express) but realized there was no future for me there and the other papers – the Nelson Daily News (now closed) and Nelson Star – had no openings.

I toyed with the idea of joining the Dark Side (read: PR) and even bid on one contract. Fortunately I didn’t get the contract because I was recruited by the Kootenay Network, where the Nelson Post and News in the Kootenays can be found.

As I said, these sites allow me to be a journalist once again and with new duties that I’ve had to learn and come to terms with: namely aggregating (Less charitable folks call it copying).

You write that you don’t think rural communities aren’t as digitally connected, which is true, to an degree, but our traffic is high (47,000 a month) and I’ve had seniors tell me they know about News in the Koots.

You’re right about our low overhead and room to grow. We have plans to expand to other communities and have one in the Slocan Valley and one in Golden. I do believe the model we’re working on is one that can support journalists to continue to work and cover their communities.

I have more to say about live blogging but I’ll save that for your later post about the subject.

Keep up the good work on this blog.

I’ll just say that many community newspaper sites would probably collapse under the weight of 47,000 visitors, so kudos to Shepherd and company.

Shepherd also wrote about his experiences with liveblogging in response to a doubting comment of mine in that same Patch piece and a comment by the Powell River Peak’s Laura Walz. Shepherd:

I’d like to second Laura’s sentiments on live blogging. I also live blog council and committee of the whole meetings and I’ve had great feedback on them and could copy and paste Laura’s comments into my own as they’re all true.

I think the best comment I’ve heard was: “It’s like being at council without having to sit through all the boring stuff.” Indeed.

I’ve also live blogged one talk, given by David Suzuki, which had good feedback and when a downtown building caught fire in Nelson, we posted continual updates about the fire. People told us they would visit the story later just to see how it all played out.

That fire also showed me the potential of news on the Internet as people commented on the story: some asking questions about the history of the building and others answering those questions.

Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it.

But from Castlegar News reporter Kim Magi comes this comment:

I don’t think live blogging can be seen as a black and white. There are many variables that depend on the success of a live blog.

For instance, as the reporter for the Castlegar News, I don’t think live blogging would be effective at our city council meetings. Our councillors are usually unanimous in their voting (it’s honestly noteworthy when votes are close) and our readers are interested in the outcome, not necessarily how council got there. Of course I include quotes from councillors about why they voted a certain way when I speak to them after meetings, but since our meetings are usually over and done with in an hour, I don’t think there would be a point of a live blog.

With all that aside, I can only go so far with the equipment I’m carrying. A notebook, recorder and heavy camera are enough without adding a laptop to the mix.

We do often update our stories online as they unfold, and make note of that in the headline so our readers are aware, and our stats show this is efficient.

Categories: Technology Tags: , ,

The answer is yes, I should care about the press council.

December 11, 2010 3 comments

At the end of my most recent post, I wrote that I didn’t care about the B.C. Press Council. But someone thinks I should.

Tim Shoults, Kamloops Daily News publisher, a member of the press council and a former editor, posted the following comment about the council. (I’ll try to give the best comments a post of their own because this WordPress theme, despite being otherwise the best of the bunch, gives short shrift to comments).

If you’re a reporter, you should definitely care about the Press Council — it’s one of the reasons there isn’t government regulation of the press.

Press Councils were formed across Canada in the early 1980s, primarily in response to the Kent Commission, which had recommended some form of government oversight of print media. They allow individuals, organizations and even governments to make formal complaints against member newspapers for breaches of the Council’s code of ethics without resorting to the expense and more limited scope of the court system. Member newspapers who are the subject of complaints are compelled to respond to the complainant and, if the matter is not settled by mediation, can be taken to a hearing and are required to publish its findings.

Almost every newspaper in BC (and so far one online-only organization, the Okanagan site Castanet) is a member of the BC Press Council and sustains it by paying dues and providing representatives to serve on the Council. Public members, generally representing a cross-section of the province by geography, always constitute a majority of members of the board and the chair is always a public member. Public members apply to join the board as vacancies arise (the openings are advertised publicly in member newspapers) and are chosen by the board based on their demonstrated capacity for leadership in a variety of fields.

Over the years, the BC Press Council has held hearings on some very high-profile issues concerning journalism in BC, including a case where the Government of BC made a complaint against the Black Press group of for directing its newspapers to run editorials opposing the Nisga’a Treaty. While there have been relatively fewer formal hearings in recent years, the Council deals with dozens of cases each year that are resolved by mediation and hundreds more complaints that do not even need to go that far. The fact that the Council is quiet does not mean it is ineffective.

I hope you would agree that self-regulation of the press, while certainly imperfect, is much less disturbing than the concept of government regulation. The recent example of media outlets being dragged before Human Rights Tribunals shows what that could look like.

Hope this helps.

Tim Shoults (DISCLOSURE: As noted in the posting above, I am an industry representative on the BC Press Council.)

Here’s my takeaway: the fact that I don’t care about the Press Council means that it’s doing a pretty good job and, thus, I should care about the council.

On a related note, Shoults has been carrying the commenting load on this site. I know there are many journalists reading this site (Big Brother stat counter is onto you!) but Tim seems to be the only guy who wants to start a conversation. Leave a comment, dammit.

%d bloggers like this: