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Busy 'bad' news weeks; be respectful in web commentsPosted Saturday, August 29, 2009, at 8:24 PM
I've got to say that the past several weeks have been a whirlwind of news in our area.
Unfortunately, most of it has been bad, tragic, disappointing and some has been very discouraging.
There have been deaths or serious injuries associated with the shooting of a toddler, several vehicle wrecks, and a small aircraft crash.
To be honest, this glut of "big news stories"" in a very short period of time is probably something that I haven't witnessed very often in my journalism career.
Two of the stories moved on the major Associated Press news wire and were disseminated around the world. Major newspapers like the Atlanta Constitution, USA Today and Newsday carried stories that originated right here in Greene County.
I guess bad news is the nature of this business beast we call journalism, but as a veteran newsman for more than 30 years, it's still upsetting to me.
I love to write the "good stories," but I'm a realist and know that many of our faithful readers look more for the bad news than the good news.
I understand that.
Reader surveys and daily checks on the stories that you -- our readers -- most frequently turn to or view are what I would call "the bad news stories."
Wrecks, assaults, thefts, fires, drug busts and others arrests are the things you show us that you like to read about.
I often look at the Top 30 viewed stories that are on our Web site -- www.gcdailyworld.com.
For the year 2009, all of the Top 10 stories involve death, serious injury or fires.
Of the Top 30 stories viewed for the year, only two involve something that can't be linked to a disaster or a crime -- that was a story about former Worthington basketball star Krista Stahl (No. 27) and an entry where readers sent us their winter snow photos (No. 17).
Everything else was bad news.
As readers and writers we need to be reminded that the bad news we write and read affects people -- their families and friends.
We need to feel compassion and pain when these bad things happen.
We need to be respectful and thoughtful in the way we write the stories and the way you as a reader posts a comment on our Web site or writes a letter to the editor.
That reminds us that comments left on our Web site are often conflicting for us.
As journalists, we have the responsibility to allow our readers the chance to comment on the stories we write -- both positively and negatively.
However, as journalists and business owners, we have the responsibility to do all we can to make sure those comments are fair and not personal attacking.
That's a tough task.
I can attest to this fact, because I am one of small number of staff members who regularly monitor comments left on our Web site.
It's not practical for us to pre-monitor the comments before they are posted and sometimes some offensive and very hurtful comments sometimes slip through the cracks and get posted. Most of those deemed unacceptable are removed sooner or later.
Here's where the responsibility of the readers comes in.
That task is made more difficult because our readers can post anonymously using a self-created screen name. It's funny how people get really bold and sometimes not very intelligent with their comments when they know that the general readership doesn't know who they are.
Some on our staff do have access to the registration information giving us the name, address, e-mail address and telephone numbers.
We do make an effort to check out the information for validity and if it doesn't check out that person is deleted.
We don't share that information with anyone, except law enforcement agencies and only then on specific request.
We do appreciate every one of our readers and Web site viewers.
The numbers on our Web site continue to grow and that is encouraging.
For the year 2009, we have had 9,054,842 page views by 1,069,623 unique visitors.
This month has been a good one with 1,183,548 page views from 140,002 unique visitors.
We thank you for your loyal support.
Remember, no one has a simple right to post any kind of comment to any story.
You can't go off on some wild unrelated tangent. Please stay on topic. Too many times, we have found the comment section to be a place for bantering back and forth by posters who are more concerned about the grammar prowess of their fellow posters than about the topic of the story.
Posting a comment is privilege and with that carries some personal responsibility. We have deleted/banned some people from posting on the Web site when they abuse that privilege. That practice will continue.
Again, we simply ask you to be respectful and use some common sense.
I guess the best advice about posting comes directly from our Web site and its says, "Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read."
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/wordmaster1953 .
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