Opinion Columns & Blogs

September 16, 2013

Dear Reader | Clearing up Facebook commenting confusion and demystifying delivery deadlines

If you are one of our regular online readers and commenters, you will already know that we have switched to a new format that requires commenters to use their Facebook accounts to make comments.

If you are one of our regular online readers and commenters, you will already know that we have switched to a new format that requires commenters to use their Facebook accounts to make comments.

The idea is to raise the level of discourse beyond insults and diatribes by attaching the commenter’s name to his or her comments.

We believe it is a worthy goal and, based on the experiences at other news organizations that have already initiated this change, we believe the comments will increase as participants realize they won’t be insulted by someone hiding behind anonymity armour.

Some have asked why comments posted before the change took effect Sunday have disappeared, alluding to an attempt by The Sun News to erase their voices. It is just a byproduct of the switch from one vendor to another.

There is a lengthy FAQ on our home page that deals with many of your questions, but here are two that seem to have come up most frequently.

Will all my comments be posted to my Facebook page so everyone can see it? | Not necessarily. When you start to write a comment, you’ll be given the option of “post to Facebook” right under it. All you have to do is unclick that box, and it will not be shown on your Facebook page.

Can other people commenting see my personal information, email, location, etc? | What others see when they click on your name or picture on our site is determined by your Facebook privacy settings. Those settings allow you to decide how much information you want to share with your friends or others. To adjust your Facebook privacy settings, visit: http://www.facebook.com/help/privacy.

Football and deadlines

It’s high school football season, which means newsrooms everywhere are having or have had this conversation:

“We need a later deadline on Friday nights so we can get all the high school football scores in,” says someone in sports.

“We can’t go later or we won’t get newspapers to readers on time on Saturday morning,” says someone in production/circulation.

“But high school sports is one of the most important services we provide,” sports says.

“If we can’t get the papers to readers, it won’t matter how good your coverage is,” production/circulation responds.

Ay, as Hamlet would say, there’s the rub. We know that for those who have children in area high schools, or who are loyal alums, those game stories are important. But we also know that many of our readers are retirees who don’t have kids in area schools and frankly don’t give a rip about how the local teams did.

What do we do? Scramble on both fronts.

We’ve tried to set deadlines so that papers get where they’re going in time on Saturday morning, and our sports staff scrambles to get information from an army of freelancers who are covering the games for us and get their information into our publishing system in time for us to hit deadline.

Clearly this is not a perfect solution, but it seems important to let readers know how and why we do the things we do, in this case, cover prep sports.

Whether you’re a local team fan or someone looking for the paper over the steam of a first cup of coffee, we thank you for reading. And for your patience.

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