Wednesday and Thursday of every week I have a regular habit of looking up stories at pineandlakes.com. When we lay out the newspapers on Tuesdays I usually keep an eye out and choose which stories I will be looking at online.
Sometimes I start checking before they are even posted online, but I keep checking feverishly until they are there. This might be strange, considering I write at least a couple of the stories. I mean, what could I be looking for?
Since you asked, I’ll tell you. I’m looking at the online comments. When it comes to our newspapers, I really like to know what works and what doesn’t. I like to know what you like, so please tell us. When our editorial staff meets with people from outside the company, I often ask them, “What do you like most about our newspapers?” Basically, looking up comments online is just another way of doing that, or that is my intention.
I was recently pleased beyond imagining when someone showed appreciation for a recent story on the works of Heritage Group North, and I was very touched when I read comments for a guest column about losing man’s best friend.
Even so, more common are ... other types of comments. I appreciate that people have a plethora of varied political and sociological beliefs, but I am always amazed at some of the conversations that come from out of left field and have little or nothing to do with the story on the page.
Some seem to feed on anger and insults, judging by the inflammatory comments. Just for the record, I’m not saying anyone should stop commenting and voicing their opinions. Practice that freedom of speech and practice it hard.
However, civility in the online comments (from all sides) would be a welcome addition over insults. Argumentum ad homonyms were always my least favorite fallacy when I taught argument classes at Bemidji State University. Maybe it is too much to hope for.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, even if things don’t change I’ll be perusing the stories, reading the feedback we can build from and scrolling past the ... expressions freely expressed there. If nothing else, at least you folks have your First Amendment down pat, and I’ll commend you for that.