Monday, January 03, 2005

Started celebrating New Year's early? or mad scientists at work?

Jan. 14: tidied up somewhat.
We may be were not all wet on this post; see Jan. 11 post for details.

However, the cloned writers almost certainly were an honest error. Lord, forgive us our snark...

The Union's been enumerating writers like it used to count readers*: on Friday (*) it cloned its voices of freedom:
We are one of the few newspapers in the United States that tries to publish all the letters it receives, either in print or online. How many letters, guest columns, kudos, interviews, and other reader opinions did we publish in 2004? More than 3,000. Who were they from? You, your neighbors, and Nevada County's leaders. Today, in appreciation of this expression of the First Amendment's precious freedoms, we list many of our contributors. If you're not among them, join them in 2005.
. . . and hundreds more.
Now pick someone at random - say, Nory. Do a search for his name on the page. Surprise! there are two Norys! And two of everyone else, including two "and hundreds more"s.

For the pedantic only: Textpad reports that 919 unique individuals are listed.

I looked for the "corrections" section on the website today, to see if the error had been caught, but can't find any such section online.

Jan. 11,14 Update:
Bill Larsen (yes, that Bill Larsen) offers an opposing "Voices of Freedom" view, bringing up a new angle to The Union's having systematically misclassifed "I'm aghast at your coverage" letters as "Election letters": given the set limit of one "election letter" per writer, if you sent in an "aghast" letter, sorry - your actual election letter (supporting a candidate) wouldn't be printed.
(This feature joins the other "special features" of election/aghast letters (details), in order of increasing importance: that they aren't necessarily published in the paper paper, that they scrolled off the end of the "election letters" page and into invisibility after a couple of days, and - most importantly - that they don't appear if you do a "search for this date" (am assuming this is still true; haven't tried lately))

*(corroborated) "used to count readers":
For a while (May 2003 through Feb 2004) The Union advertised 240,000 readers...

...which was calculated by multiplying the 40,000 estimated daily readership by 6 publishing days per week. Suggestion: Counting eyeballs could raise the total to almost 480,000.

Just to make it clear - we at NCFocus are big fans of the First Amendment; it's our favorite. We hope that what we are poking here is "good natured fun", although other objects do come to mind.

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