Thursday, June 01, 2006

Followup: The Union's commenting guidelines, written and unwritten

Wed June 7 update: editor has emailed back, but didn't provide unambiguous answers to my questions.
(e.g., on "unfavorable to the Union's image"; does this just mean comments with an ugly scurrilous _tone_ (which is unfavorable to The Union's image), or does it also include [civil] comments that contain _information_ that's unfavorable to The Union's image?)
I'm hoping that at some point unambiguous answers will be forthcoming.


The Union's written Comment Policy, as it appears on the online "comments" pages (e.g. this one from today):
The comments feature of is a service for our readers to discuss stories online with other readers, and provide feedback to the staff.

Those submitting comments to articles will abide by the following guidelines:
  • No personal attacks
  • No profane or vulgar language
  • No racial, ethnic or religious slurs
  • No unlawful use of copyright material

All comments go to a moderator before being posted online. Sometimes, it may take several hours [for] a comment to appear online. Those not adhering to the guidelines will be deleted.

There's an additional, unwritten guideline, says Russ Steele (of NC Media Watch, in a comment to my previous post):
"comments unfavorable to the Union's image will not be tolerated in the comments."
(and another commenter suspects this boils down to "comments unfavorable to the Union's bottom line will not be tolerated in the comments.")

I didn't want to leave this assertion unconfirmed, so made an effort to find out more.
An email (sent a week ago, reprinted here on NCDocuments; I think it raised some good points) to The Union's editor asking for details/confirmation did not receive a response.

June 4 update: Ran across this quote:*:
Swift Newspaper[s] is a strong believer in local autonomy, and in practicing journalism without fear or favor. Or, as its statement of values vows, "We apply our values in our actions. We believe there should be no difference between what we say and what we do."


Bruce said...

Just as an aside, I have posted over the past week several online comments to the Union to postings in reference to oversized Shine signs. I just posted the following:

"Union Staff: I have posted at least 4 or 5 comments complaining about quite a few oversized Shine signs in Nevada City over the past week. All were connected to postings pertaining to the signs that you have published. I'm curious why NONE of them have been posted online."

In several posts I described exactly where the signs were (three within a two block area).

This is getting silly. Really, regardless of their purported guidelines, they publish exactly what is beneficial to either their political bent, or their bottom line. They have no shame, but then...who's surprised?

Bruce said...

Miracle of miracles. My posts from today suddenly appeared. Still a few prior posts missing.

Anna said...

Bruce, they've acknowledged (publicly) that it's their practice _not_ to publish "what happened to my comment" comments, so the one you quote from doesn't give us any new information.

What _would_ be useful info, is to save copies (and submission timestamp) of the "within the written guidelines" comments that you submit; then track what happens to them and when; then report this, with URLs and the actual text.
Also, if they publish comments that were received _after_ yours, long before they publish yours, that'd be interesting info to save too.

(and it would be cool, if you could do this)

(also btw your browser presumably has a File->SavePageAs feature, that you can use to save different snapshots of the comments page, to use as data. Memories have been known to be fallible.)

Bruce said...

I'll try to remember to do that. Thanks.

Bruce said...

After reading the huge pro-Shine article on 6/3, I made the following online comment:

"My God, is Shine putting money into the Union's pocket? The pro-Shine coverage is unbelievable. I hope people are awake enough to see what's happening.

Not only did the comment not appear, but the article is gone. I would think that such a prominent and politically motivated article would at least stay on for comment for one or two days. Especially on the eve of an election.

"eve of the election" as in the flier that was sent out by the encombents in NC.

Really sleazy on both parts.

Bruce said...

Scuse the spelling.

Anna said...

(fyi Bruce I don't think I saw (in paper or online) the Shine piece you're referring to, so am writing from ignorance on that.)

I have to side with The Union, on their not publishing your comment - your question
"is Shine putting money into the Union's pocket?" is an insinuation that people at the paper are accepting bribes and as such, it _is_ out of bounds, unless you have evidence beyond just allegedly (or actually) slanted coverage.

If someone said something like that about me I'd probably delete their comment too.

On the last-minute flier thing - I agree with you, it leaves a bad taste.
What's kind of funny, in an old-fashioned sort of way, is the candidates' web-silence about it: Sheila (the 'victim') has no blog so has said nothing about it on her site; Kerry and Conley have "brochureware" blogs with no posts since last April, much less anything about this; and I'll bet you a quarter that one of the reasons Barbara didn't get the same last-minute treatment is that she _does_ have a blog, and so has the wherewithal to fire right back, getting her own message across in her own words her own way. Immediately.

(ok, I'll likely lose the quarter, this year. But next?)