By far the common complaint we heard about the recent changes in the TV Week section was about the reduced size of the crossword puzzle. We heard you loud and clear. Starting this Sunday, you’ll find the puzzle back to its larger size. Thanks for taking the time to call or write.
Monthly Archives: January 2008
Here’s a note I sent to the newsroom today explaining our newsroom policy on caucus participation:
With Kansas caucuses fast approaching, we need to have a clear policy in place on staff participation in the Republican and Democratic Party caucuses.
Itâ€™s difficult to determine the right and fair balance between staffersâ€™ rights as citizens and our need to protect the newspaperâ€™s credibility and objectivity. One major complicating factor is that the two state partiesâ€™ caucus procedures are significantly different.
I donâ€™t have a problem inherently with staffers taking part in caucuses. Since Kansas has a closed primary system, employees are already required to declare a party affiliation to participate in primary elections. That affiliation is public record.
The upcoming Republican Party caucus vote is done by secret ballot. Participants are not required to publicly declare support for a candidate, and for that reason, newsroom staffers who want to participate are allowed to do so. However, you must stop short of campaigning for candidates at the caucus â€“ doing so would greatly jeopardize your credibility and the newspaperâ€™s, and I ask you to limit your participation to ballot voting.
The Democratic Party caucus is more problematic. The caucus format is not a private ballot â€“ participants physically and publicly show support for a candidate. We canâ€™t allow newsroom staff members to publicly endorse a political candidate in this way, so we have to ask you not to participate in the Democratic caucus.
I realize thereâ€™s no perfect answer to this situation, and this policy has its flaws. It opens us to the appearance of treating two political parties differently. But I also canâ€™t see my way to prohibiting participation in the Republican caucus just so we have a parallel policy for two very different events. The issue with the Democratic caucus is purely in the way the party has structured the event.
I want our staff members to be engaged citizens. I know that many newspapers bar staff participation in caucuses, but I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s necessary here since our typical primary system requires you to declare a party affiliation to vote. But we have to stop short of staffers publicly endorsing candidates or campaigning on their behalf. I believe most of us understand that we sacrifice the right to those activities by choosing the jobs weâ€™ve chosen.
If any of this troubles you, letâ€™s talk.
Beginning Friday, Feb. 1, we’ll require users of Kansas.com to log in to the site to make a comment on a story.
This has long been suggested by our users as a way to limit the number of profane, violent and generally irresponsible comments made on our comment boards. And for almost just as long, it has been our goal to institute such a system. Now that site registration has debuted on Kansas.com and several thousand of you have registered, it is possible for us to do this.
If you are not logged in, you’ll be able to read the story comments; you just won’t be able to make one. Once you are logged in, your Kansas.com username will be automatically signed to any comment you make. For now, this only applies to comments on stories on our main www.kansas.com site. We plan to have a similar system in place for our blogs, on blogs.kansas.com, within a couple of weeks. Our discussion forums, which have always required a separate log-in, are not changing.
If you’re not already registered as a Kansas.com user, now is a great time to do that. Start at http://www.kansas.com/register/.
A couple of readers wrote in wondering why we didnâ€™t run a story about a study that compiled statements made by President Bush and others about Iraq in the two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
It was mentioned in the WeBlog section of the Op/Ed page, but it wasnâ€™t in our Nation and World report.
I should point out that those looking for some hidden conservative agenda here should go play somewhere else. Heck, those looking for some hidden liberal agenda are wasting their time, too.
OK, back to the topic at hand. Basically, comparisons of statements made leading up to and during the war versus what was found are topics that have been reported on many times in the paper over the past few years. So, with little new ground being covered, I didnâ€™t see any compelling reason to run it in the print edition.
On Kansas.com, however, we published the full story as well as posted links to the organizations that created the study.
That story can be found here.
If youâ€™re looking for another opinion on the study, Newsbusters and others have taken issue with it.
Agree? Disagree? Jump over to the comments section and sound off.
Eagle photographer Jaime Oppenheimer spent a busy day shooting a ton of photos of people and their dogs at the Eagle’s Woofstock booth last October. We made the photographs available to buy online through December, and told buyers we’d donate the profits back to the Kansas Humane Society.
Thanks to your generous purchases, we’ve sent the Humane Society a check this week for $1,652. Thanks for coming to visit us at Woofstock, and we hope you enjoy the photos you purchased.
A reader dropped me a note recently to point out several typos in a story on our Web site, Kansas.com. She ended her email with, “How does that happen and nobody notices?”
The truth is that in many ways, we’re still growing into the Web. We’re getting better at posting more breaking news — we now publish news all day on the Web site, while just a few years ago, the site was only a reposting of the morning’s newspaper.
With the printed paper, we have production systems in place that may be as old as newspapers: reporters write a story; they send it to an assigning editor for editing; typically, a senior editor then edits the story; then, a copy editor edits it for fact-checking and detailed editing (grammar, spelling, typos); then the copy desk supervisor looks it over.
It’s a complex assembly line (though not foolproof) that takes many hours for a story to go from reporter’s notebook to press.
That’s not an option in reporting for the Web. The premium is on immediacy. We tend to write shorter and faster — get the story online quickly. Our policy is to do that without budging on our standards of factual accuracy, fairness and ethical balance. That speed, though, means we send stories through fewer hands for the Web than we do for the printed paper. Generally a copy editor edits news articles, or a news editor. Occasionally both, but not always.
And in some cases — like this blog — no one edits. It would have been unthinkable in the “old days” for me to write a column and put it in the newspaper without having another editor read it. But I’ll look over this post, and then post it.
The reader also noted typos in photo captions on the Web site, and she’s right, we’ve had problems getting a system in place to get good captions on our photo packages. Photographers are extraordinary visual journalists, but aren’t always the best grammarians. They write the captions for their photographs.
The bottom line is that we’re still figuring out how to put safeguards in place for Web stories to balance speed and accuracy. The story the reader flagged was posted rapidly online to warn readers that the snowstorm before Christmas was becoming much more dangerous than originally believed. The editor posted it, then went back later and cleaned it up. In this case, he did the right thing. I’d rather get the information out there, with some typos, and fix it a couple hours later.
But we have to keep working to find the right balance — the systems that take us all day and night to publish a newspaper won’t work online. But neither will typo-riddled stories.
You can now find searchable TV grids on our Web site, plus an expanded TV package of movie listings and descriptions, Best Bets and photo packages at Kansas.com/tvweek.
We’ve made some changes in our TV Week format (the grids and puzzles are still there) — see Page 2 of this week’s TV Week section for details. If you have a comment or suggestion on the changes, give us a call at 316-268-6461. Thanks.
We’ve launched two new e-mail newsletters that give us a cool opportunity to bring Eagle headlines to you in a timely and convenient way.
Our morning and afternoon headline briefings of local news are available as a perk for readers who sign up as registered users at Kansas.com. The e-mail reports are sent out at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays to update you at home or the office on the news of the day. You can scan the reports as is, or click any of the links for the longer stories.
In addition to the morning and afternoon news briefings, you can sign up for our Mid-Day Business Report (every weekday) or Michael Pearce’s weekly outdoors report. And you can expect us to add more offerings of other e-mailed news reports in coming months.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to sign up for the newsletters after you register on Kansas.com.
One aspect of my job as copy desk chief is overseeing the national and international stories in The Eagle.
A couple of readers called Wednesday wondering why we didnâ€™t have a box with our Michigan primary story listing how each of the candidates did.
Simple answer: we dropped the ball.
One of our goals in our election coverage and elsewhere is to make the essential information quick and easy to find, alongside more-detailed stories.
Weâ€™ll do better next time.
The voting for the last monthly headline contest of 2007 is done. Here are the winners from the in-house vote.
First place was written by copy desk chief Michael Roehrman.
How the West is
won: at auction
That headline appeared with a story about the first of five auctions for selling the contents of Wild West World.
Second place went to assistant sports editor Tom Seals.:
That one was placed above an Outdoors story about a hunter from Satanta who took two trophy animals, a mule deer and an antelope, in the space of five days.
Third place went to copy editor Jennifer Comes.
A distant war,
an intimate grief
This was with the first story in a series of four about the Kansas National Guard’s Bravo Battalion in Iraq and family members at home.
Readers of the Editorâ€™s Desk picked the same headline for first place and tied three for second place.
The online picks for No. 2:
A distant war,
an intimate grief
for Old Mill
Snow stops city cold
Now that the December headlines have been picked, the 12 monthly winners will be entered into a Best of The Eagle contest for 2007.
See a headline you like or think is noteworthy? I would love to hear from you.