DNT Resorts to Interviewing its Publisher to Produce Content?

So I know that the whole ripping on the Duluth News Tribune theme gets a bit tiresome. Yet this article compels some response from anyone who knows better than to accept as journalism a story about the New Tribune’s publisher speaking before the Duluth Chamber. Ironically, in this story, the reporter quotes the DNT’s publisher stating that “What we don’t have is less local news content.” Well, I suppose if this article and advertisements qualify, that may be the case. But the newspaper is not even close to being “better than it was a year ago.” Read the story and you might understand my utter confusion at how anyone could possibly consider this story to be newsworthy.

41 Comments

John

about 12 years ago

I read the article.  While I didn't find it particularly compelling, it does contain some information Duluthians may find interesting.

Of importance to me personally is the fact that they do not plan on charging for online content in the near future.  This sets my mind at ease knowing I won't be relegated to reading more posts like this one.

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with the News Tribune covering itself, but the reporter should certainly get comments from someone else in the industry to give some perspective to Ken Browell's statements.

John

about 12 years ago

I completely agree Paul.  

They could have - at the very least - made reference to other news outlets across the country that have discussed charging for content.

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

I should note that the reporter who wrote the story is quite experienced and very good, but I doubt she has as much time to work on stories as she used to -- you know, back before the paper got "better."

wildgoose

about 12 years ago

They don't allow "uncivil" comments on the website.  That's great!  

Now, will someone tell me where THAT website is because the DNT site I know has a legacy of racist, classist, sexist, homophobic comments and where otherwise ignoramus rants are all the rage.  Rage. Literally.  

Also find it noteworthy that there are no comments open on this particular piece.  

I agree its a story to be covered, but ... you're right @ndy, HOW it was covered doesn't exactly pass the smell test.  It runs like an advertorial for website advertising and Browall appears to steamroll right past any critics with legitimate concerns about coverage (like the nurse interviewed).  Plus I saw nothing on staff cuts - doesn't anyone at the chamber care about people losing their jobs?  I seriously doubt that.  Hopefully that wasn't self-censorship on the reporters part and Candace just missed that.  Or maybe she just didn't have space in their Fantastic! New! "shorter" and thinner news story format. Just what everybody wants.

Each new bit of news out of the DNT I get one step closer to canceling my subscription ...

mac

about 12 years ago

Wildgoose, read the article again.  The last paragraph referenced staff cuts and the writer was simply paraphrasing the publisher so what he said may have been more to your liking, but since there was no quote, we'll never know.

udarnik

about 12 years ago

A year ago, the newsroom had five more reporters, two more photogs and two more copy editors than it does now.  "Better"?  Come on.

Paul Lundgren

about 12 years ago

Wildgoose mentioned he thinks it's "noteworthy that there are no comments open" on the News Tribune's story about itself. I think the DNT decided to stop allowing comments on all of its stories -- or at least most of them. Which is fine by me. I don't think there was ever an announcement about that, and maybe it's just a temporary thing, but I haven't seen a story with comments for a while on that site. The DNT blogs allow comments, but the stories don't.

Barrett Chase

about 12 years ago

No comments? Good riddance.

mevdev

about 12 years ago

I welcome the omitting of comments, turns out I *don't* like what your readers have to say.

Barrett Chase

about 12 years ago

I'm pretty confident that I'm not exaggerating when I say that I never saw a single comment thread on the DNT that didn't make me embarrassed to be a Duluthian.

Terry G.

about 12 years ago

Ditto about the good riddance to comments.

That's one reason why I only read the hard copy and rarely looked at the website.

Jessica Hayssen

about 12 years ago

What: Informational Picket
Who: Lake Superior News Guild and supporters
When: Thursday, Feb. 25, noon to one
Where: Duluth News Tribune, 424 W. 1st Street

beryl k gullsgate

about 12 years ago

If a reporter has neither the time nor the investigative curiousity to do a little more research and comparative study of the issue/issues involved, and merely reports the meeting in its more simplistic form ... then maybe one could say the story reads like an in-house secretary's notes from 'Our Lady of Perpetual Half-Truths Church Bulletin'; or minutes from a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting. 

But then, maybe that's all there is here folks?

Calk

about 12 years ago

I thought it was a pretty interesting article, though I laughed at the publisher claiming they didn't allow uncivil comments on the website. I had an annoying experience once, when a woman calling herself "Lisa M" altered and re-posted two comments on the DNT website that had originally been posted on Progressive Action's private listserve. "Lisa M" also included some pretty abusive insults directed at me in the comments she posted on the DNT website. 

It took about 12 hours for the DNT to finally take down the comments after I complained. But the good thing about this whole incident was that we at PA were able to smoke out this woman and kicked her off of our listserve for violating our policies.

So, I have to say, since the DNT's moderation of their website was so spotty and they also allowed a few blogging addicts to take over threads and spew crap, I am glad they finally stopped allowing them. Like Barrett, some of those comments posted there made me so damn embarrassed to be a Duluthian.

edgeways

about 12 years ago

Shitty comment sections seem almost de rigeur for news sites, from the high to the low I have yet to see a news comment board with actual interesting content (possible exception: some BBC articles)

Will

about 12 years ago

I think it's good when newspapers cover themselves. They deserve to be the focus of scrutiny just as any other enterprise does. If they ever go too far, it's because they don't want to be accused of sweeping anything under the rug; that might be why this story got a little more play than its content would ordinarily merit.

spy1

about 12 years ago

Edge: MnPost and NY Times tend to have very good comments sections. But they make it a priority to carefully warn commentators and then actually monitor the content. They are models to follow, but need staffing. Ugh.

Big Iron

about 12 years ago

The DNT stopped allowing online comments because two trolls with no lives - Dr Z and Dan H - took over every thread and had to comment on everything, airing their racist, sexist, and homophobic opinions to people who could care less.

adam

about 12 years ago

Why not just block their IP addresses?

Mero

about 12 years ago

The BBC's comments are decent because they moderate them.

Go to ABC News, Politico, wherever, they are sheer hell.

I guess we'll have to get our ranting idiot fix from Craigslist now! Alas.

Mero

about 12 years ago

Adam, it's possible to change IPs like some people change socks. Depends on your connection.

Calk

about 12 years ago

The Budgeteer stopped allowing online comments when about a half-dozen right-wing trolls flamed Ralph Doty unmercifully for writing a column critical of Ron Stone, the former mgr for KDAL Radio and other stations.

wildgoose

about 12 years ago

I was aware that they had limited or eliminated comments and I agree with Barrett that just about every single comment thread on the DNT made me cringe and embarrassed to be a Duluthian.

I just wanted to point out that no one was able to comment on THAT story. 

I hope the powers never need to take away comments here for lack of thoughtful and fun discourse, it would ruin my perfect duluth day.

TimK

about 12 years ago

I'm pretty sure that it was just easier for the DNT to remove comments all together than to actually have a warm body moderate it. That's what was lacking- timely (and "fair") moderating.

Calk

about 12 years ago

@Wildgoose, I think comments here are pretty safe. Sure, the trolls come out on the political threads, but, on the whole, there's pretty good community policing. TimK is right, there was a total lack of timely and "fair" moderation on the DNT's website.  I'm actually concerned about the blogs associated with the newspaper, too. I remember the weekend before the election, someone or two posting completely false information about one candidate's employment status on Brandon Stahl's blog. If a blog or reader comments are associated with a newspaper, they should be moderated with care, b/c people are going to believe anything they read that's associated with a newspaper.

wildgoose

about 12 years ago

Well, another part about what Calk is not saying is that I *think* the blogger/reporter has to do their own moderating of comments.  So we have an already very busy reporter covering two or three beats or more aNd having to moderate comments on the blog.  So its the same thing that TimK is saying again ... not enough time/care/attention/to do the moderation fairly.

I got burned really bad here on PDD with screaming comments on a post or two that really bothered me.  I have seen firsthand that moderating comments is very difficult to do.  It requires technical, ethical, and editorial faculties that not everyone has.  

I don't think I'm very good at it, for one.  Even when I don't have an agenda it seems like I do more often than not have a bias somewhere deep down where I can hardly see it, but it looks like a gigantic billboard to others.

Calk

about 12 years ago

You're right, Wildgoose, it is tough to moderate others' comments on a blog. Where does free speech end and not allowing any crap or vitriol to be spewed in a public forum begin? But, especially, if you are a professional journalist or at least associated with a news media outlet, it is essential that you moderate readers's comments with care. Because if you don't, the blog will become no better than that right-wing blog that's notorious for misinformation, rumor mongering, and spewing outright lies about public figures and private individuals.

Re the DNT: I don't know if it's too late to save our local newspaper. I love having a local paper and highly respect some of the employees there who are totally kick ass reporters, but I have questioned the direction the newspaper has been going in recent years -- from the over-the-top, over-saturation coverage about Windchill and the Hell's Angels, to the misogynist and condescending reporting on local women candidates and politicians. I'd like to ask the owners of Forum Communications to stop with the staff cuts -- but I'd also like to ask the editors at the DNT to make the DNT a newspaper that accurately reflects our community's standards and values.

Calk

about 12 years ago

I just want to make clear, about the time I complained to the newspaper about someone calling herself "Lisa M"'s comments on the DNT's website: even though the comments this "Lisa M" directed towards me were personal attacks, what really pissed me off and made me complain was that this person actually altered and then reposted on the DNT comments that I and someone else had written and posted on Progressive Action's private listserve. That kind of thing really pisses me off, because it's so dishonest. 

Anyway, what was also interesting, was that when the PA moderators looked up the contact information we had for anyone named "Lisa M" on our listserve, we googled the full name we had in our records and were gobsmacked that this person's name was the very same as the maiden name of a well-known sitting city councilor known for "stirring the pot" with his right-wing world view. We also discovered that the address "Lisa M" had provided PA when she registered did not exist.

This is why the DNT, or any legitimate news outlet, should make people register if they want to post comments. That way, if trolls abuse the privilege, effective measures can be taken. I think the fact that there is some accountability on this blog and *definitely* on PA, is why they remain such valuable sources of information and online interaction.

zra

about 12 years ago

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. -Soren Kierkegaard

Danny G

about 12 years ago

"Anyway, what was also interesting, was that when the PA moderators looked up the contact information we had for anyone named "Lisa M" on our listserve, we googled the full name we had in our records and were gobsmacked that this person's name was the very same as the maiden name of a well-known sitting city councilor known for "stirring the pot" with his right-wing world view."


Wait a sec here.  I'm trying to follow this intriguing episode of Columbo, but I'm a little confused.  This well-known city councilor is a "he" and he has a maiden name?  Um...what?

calk

about 12 years ago

DAnny, thanks for catching that! I type too damn fast some times! The name we had in our records was the very same as the maiden name of the (second) WIFE of a well-known sitting city councilor, blah blah blah. . . 

Again, thanks for catching that, buddy!

Danny G

about 12 years ago

Gotcha.  Intriguing.  At the risk of encouraging this Oliver Stone-esque conspiracy theory (who am I kidding, I love this sort of thing), what was the "similar" last name in-question?  Also, how do you and your pals at PA know her maiden name?

Calk

about 12 years ago

@Danny: we looked up "Lisa M" after the DNT incident and found in our PA records a "Lisa McLennan" -- with a false address. Yup, that was her, we could feel it in our bones. We then googled the name for laughs --why don't you do the same?  If you really want to make it easy for yourself, google "Lisa McLennan" and "Fedora."AS I said earlier, we were GOBSMACKED.

We kicked her off of PA and never heard from her again.

I love this cloak-and-dagger, spy vs. spy shit.

Danny G

about 12 years ago

You love it?  How do you think someone like me who laughs his ass off at this kind of stuff feels?

Calk

about 12 years ago

Glad to have made your day, Danny. It is pretty hilarious, that someone would use a right-wing city councilor's wife's maiden name AND a a false address when registering to participate on a left-wing listserve. You can't make this shit up. It's like, how old is this person, anyway?

@ndy

about 12 years ago

Here are Robin Washington's remarks on the closing of comments on the DNT's website if you are interested: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/161563/

Barrett Chase

about 12 years ago

My suggestion for the DNT's comment section is to use a system similar to the one that Metafilter uses. In order to comment, users must pay a one-time $5 fee to become members. In the DNT's case, I would also suggest that the name that appears under a person's comments must match the full name on the credit card used to create that membership. 

This idea helps solve the DNT's commenting problem in three ways:

1) The elimination of anonymity will help to keep comments more civil.
2) Credit-card registration will allow for permanent banning of problem users.
3) The modest fee will help offset the cost of moderation, which hopefully, because of #1, will take significantly less time than it has in the past.

Calk

about 12 years ago

Barrett, that is a great idea, I hope you pitch that to the powers-that-be at the DNT. I think that would definitely curb some of the abuses that have been so prevalent on the DNT's website. My attitude is, if you aren't going to say something to someone face-to-face, then, for god's sakes, don't use the anonymity of the Internet to write something. On the PA listserve, we don't ask for money to offset costs of moderation, but the fact we ask for complete contact information and people have to agree to our policies before joining and will be kicked off for violating any of them has helped make for a mostly-civil discussion over there.

Calk

about 12 years ago

I thought it interesting, that Robin Washington explained in his column that the DNT can figure out people's identities if it has to. Kind of reassuring that if anyone is threatened, there is some recourse. Wasn't there a case a few years ago, some troll threatened Mayor Bergson on the DNT's online section?

adam

about 12 years ago

Dynamic IP addresses make things marginally more difficult, but not much. If you're snarky, they're not likely to expend the resources. If you threaten to blow shit up, the FBI's pretty smart.

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