Tag: Journalist

The Daily Mail appears to find comments irritating

The Julie Moult is an idiot business has flushed out the Daily Mail on their comments policy. Martin Clarke, the editorial director of Mail online told journalism.co.uk:

If you want to complain about a story some days after it’s published you have to take a more traditional view of things and write to the editor, the same as you would as if it was in the paper. We don’t publish all the letters we get,” he said.

Clarke confirmed that 60 comments had been made on the article, but these remained unpublished as of Friday afternoon – until Ireland’s original post was set live.

‘[I]n an ideal world we’d get every [non-libellous and inoffensive] comment published’, but ‘it’s a hell of a job moderating 7,100 comments every day’, he said.

“We are reviewing our entire moderation policy. This is becoming more and more of an issue for us. We get more comments than we can possibly deal with and our moderation side hasn’t been able to keep up.”

“We’re not into censoring comments – if that comment had been posted on the day or even the day after we would have probably got it up there.”

Clearly he understands that current moderation policy is broken. What is it that this website is putting before talking to it’s audience? Perhaps trying to guess what the audience finds interesting rather than listening to the audience. Or perhaps the online team at the Mail spend all their time pleading with the hacks to write stories that are accurate so they don’t have to moderate endless embarrasing comments correcting the newspaper on its own website.

Paul Bradshaw has also reported on on how Bloggerheads has taken the original story and moved things on:

He’s now inviting readers to help document “the lies and falsehoods of the Daily Mail (focusing on a subject, speciality or columnist of your choosing)” and get Daily Mail Watch to the top of the Google search for Daily Mail.

They’re hitting the Daily Mail where it hurts – on search engines – and who can blame them? It is incredibly frustrating for any reader to put the effort into posting a useful comment on a news website only to see it disappear into oblivion. I know – it happened to me when I also published a comment correcting a Daily Mail article last February (worse, Martin Belam’s comment was edited to remove criticism*).

The lesson behind all this is best left to Manic himself:

“Just so you’re aware that your notoriously self-serving comment moderation policy does have its hidden costs; normally you lot wouldn’t be worth the time and effort, but your ignoring/deleting my quite reasonable comment response to your article annoyed me just long enough for this idea to take shape. There, now aren’t you glad that you censored a polite comment pointing out an obvious flaw?”

*UPDATE: It seems Belam’s full comment was eventually reinstated, lower down the comments and with a timestamp the day after Belam blogged about it.

What are the key lessons here:

1 If people want to talk on your website let them, help them, encourage them. Don’t ignore them. That’s rude and people don’t like bad manners.

2 If you don’t they’ll still find somewhere to talk, you may not like what they say and you wont have any authority to attempt to moderate it.

Seth Godin’s First Law of mass media:

Organizations will work tirelessly to de-personalize every communication medium they encounter.

Email used to be honest interactions between consenting adults.
Facebook pages (and Wikipedia, too) were built by people, not staffs.
Twits came from real people, and so did instant messages.One by one, the mass marketers have insisted on robocalling,
spamming, jingling and lying their way into our lives. The pronoun
morphs from “you” to “me” to “us” to “the corporation” …

The public works tirelessly to flee to actual interactions between
real people, and our organizations work even more diligently (and with
more leverage) to corporatize and anonymize the interactions.

Fascinating observations found here. At this stage I am working with organisation try to persuade that social media is about the individual and the personal. I’ve not yet thought that if/when I win that battle there will still be substantial forces of de-personalisation trying to undermine that work. I’m hoping that the right way will be so liberating and so transparently useful that only a lunatic would want to go backwards. Umh….

Hattip. See also.

Twitter and court reporting.

It has been many years since I last did any court reporting and I remember the scramble to get out of court and either get to the court press room or recover your mobile from security.  Recording devices like cameras and microphones are banned in UK courts.

Have things changed at all? Would it be OK for a reporter to follow this American example and (from the brilliant Spokesman Review – the paper which practically invented the open newsroom)  tweet progress – presumably using a mobile phone?

Update. the short answer to the question above (Thanks Jon) is that mobile phones are still not allowed. Also found this interesting post on the problems of the web and court reporting:

But in a 24/7 media age, what is contemporaneous? Increasingly, newspapers feel the need to file to only one deadline: now, online.

In fairness to MacNae’s expert editors, this is from the 18th edition published in 2005 and the newer book is better with online matters and the forthcoming edition even better. But the advice it gives on being contemporaneous is from another age: hardly any evening papers publish more than one edition, and most of them are essentially morning papers now anyway, printed over night to save money and time.

So surely “at the earliest opportunity” is now. It’s as soon as the reporter has gathered his or her thoughts, deciphered the notebook scribblings, wrote the story and emailed it or phoned it in to the newsdesk.

Judges are not the most web-savvy people (see here), so for time being the next day’s edition will be enough. But how long before the senior judges and the Ministry of Justice wake up to the fact that the whole issue of “earliest opportunity” has changed?

The Society of Editors is already warning that the Contempt of Court laws need to be shaken up to cope with multi-media realities. So how long before the powers that be take court reporting law into the 21st century?

Thanks to Alison at the Liverpool Daily Post for kicking off the debate on Twitter today. She asked whether newspapers whould break exclusive court reports online, to which I ask another question: why not?