Patterico's Pontifications

12/4/2007

Comments the L.A. Times Hasn’t Posted on the Readers’ Representative’s Blog

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:33 am

Feel free to leave negative feedback on the Readers’ Representative blog at the L.A. Times. Just don’t expect it to be published.

Last Friday morning, See Dubya tried to leave this comment at the Readers’ Rep blog:

Ms. Gold–

I have a question about your comment moderation policies for the readers’ rep blog. Now, certainly you don’t want a free-for-all here with every sort of nut spamming your forums with conspiracy theories and Ron Paul propaganda–but I repeat myself.

Yet I am concerned that this blog will swing too far in the other direction. While the idea of a readers’ rep blog is encouraging, it won’t be of much use if the user input is moderated too heavily and doesn’t reflect the wide variety of concerns expressed by Times readers. If that happens this blog will become a lame PR exercise instead of a tool for communicating with readers–as Amy Alkon says it already is.

My friend and fellow blogger “Patterico” also says this suppression is happening and that several reasonable, but critical, comments have already been trapped in moderation limbo, never to emerge. I say balderdash, the LA Times is far too professional an operation to do that, and I bet him a Mexican dinner that you would approve and publish this comment in its entirety.

I know he’s been a real pain in the rear for the LA Times, Ms. Gold, so here’s your chance to prove him wrong and put him out for the cost of all the chimichangas I can eat. Aside from that, however, this is a topic of general interest to Times readers being discussed in the blogosphere, so a public response might be in order.

Thanks in advance for your time and consideration. And the chimichangas.

Don’t count your chimichangas before they’re rolled, my friend.

Like many other comments left at the Readers’ Representative blog, See Dubya’s comment hasn’t been posted — and it won’t be, according to an e-mail See Dubya received from the Readers’ Rep. She explained that she sees the blog as “more a forum than a blog” and that it will “use readers’ questions to provide a chance for the newsroom to respond to reader concerns.”

She just doesn’t feel any obligation to allow negative comments about the paper.

See Dubya’s comment isn’t the only one that hasn’t made it through. Several other polite but critical comments haven’t been published either. For example, DRJ posed a fair, reasonable, and polite question about bias in a story about immigration in this comment. I listed four more critical comments in this post. None of them has been published.

The blog has been active for a week, and only one critical comment has been approved. I know of eight polite but critical comments that were rejected. As for the one critical comment, the Readers’ Rep inaccurately criticized the commenter for not providing specifics. Thing was, he had — as I explained in this comment, which never saw the light of day. (The Readers’ Rep did amend her comment to note her error.)

Regarding the issue of specifics, Xrlq left this comment, which set forth three specific “fabrications or distortions that were reported as fact in recent years, all of which were promptly called to the attention of your staff, and none of which resulted in a published correction.” Xrlq’s comment was not published either.

Of course, these are just the comments we know about. Who knows how many other critical comments have been deep-sixed?

The bottom line is that the Readers’ Rep blog does not have a genuine comments section. Which is a shame, because this is a metaphor for everything that is wrong with Big Media. They claim to want feedback from readers — but really, they want it only on their own terms. It’s especially galling at the blog of the ombusdman, who is, of all people, supposed to be accepting of criticism.

The comments section at the Readers’ Rep blog isn’t a real blog comments section. It’s more like a “Letters to the Editor” feature.

You can say whatever you like to them. But they probably won’t publish it.

24 Responses to “Comments the L.A. Times Hasn’t Posted on the Readers’ Representative’s Blog”

  1. Where you gonna make See Dubya take you, The Red Onion?

    JVW (af8ad5)

  2. The comments section at the Readers’ Rep blog isn’t a real blog comments section. It’s more like a “Letters to the Editor” feature.

    Nope, “Letters to the Editor” sections generally welcome controversy and different opinions because it stirs up debate, increases readership and therefore ad revenue, and best of all, two things: (1) they can take a step back from contrary to their editorial views without appearing gauche to their supporters and (2) they don’t have to pay a dime in salary for opinions they despise.

    This isn’t even like the above. It’s more like a company newsletter.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  3. I am saying I told you so. The LATimes cannot brook any criticism. It would mean they’d have to admit responsibility and that they are wrong. Newspaper “Secular Progressives” NEVER admit they are wrong, nor do they accept oversight of their work.

    PCD (09d6a8)

  4. Count me as a rejected commenter, too.

    I must have forgotten to include the necessary buzz words… awesome, awesomeness, awesomely awesome….

    Dana (b4a26c)

  5. Nope . . .

    I assume she’ll be publishing critical feedback from time to time — but only what she chooses to publish. And it will be a fraction of the negative feedback.

    It’s a “Letters to the Editor” model in that sense.

    I’ll grant you this: “Letters to the Editor” features are generally more receptive to negative feedback than the Readers’ Rep blog seems to be, based on available evidence so far.

    Patterico (fd643a)

  6. “I assume she’ll be publishing critical feedback from time to time — but only what she chooses to publish.”

    Sounds more and more like a company newsletter.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  7. I don’t believe Ms. Gold truly understands the word “blog” or the phrase “to blog”. I believe she thinks of it as a feature for any immediate response she may have that she wishes to “share”. Kinda of like a micro editorial page she can use any time she wants. Well, her “blog” at the LAT is a joke and by now she should begin to understand what the word “joke” means.

    Sue (2cde15)

  8. Sue, the LATimes is a sick, sick joke of a newspaper all the way around.

    PCD (09d6a8)

  9. I second Christoph’s analogy. Ms. Gold has always been far worse than the letters to the editor people. Forget her Orwellian title. She is not now, nor has she ever been, a representative of the readers. All she has ever been is the paper’s representative to the readers, and a not very good one at that.

    Xrlq (b71926)

  10. Well, I thought the personal answers are a nice touch. And her answer was forthright: it’s not a blog with comments like this one, it’s “more of a forum”.

    I think you might want to refer to it from here out as the LA Times Readers’ Representative Moreofaforum.

    Do you prefer beef or pork chimichangas, P?

    See Dubya (1fc18b)

  11. “Do you prefer beef or pork chimichangas, P?”

    - See Dubya

    It’s not your place to question the Master’s chimichanga preferences, Bet-Loser. Just pay the tab, and suffer quietly.

    Leviticus (35fbde)

  12. SeeDubya:

    I think you might want to refer to it from here out as the LA Times Readers’ Representative Moreofaforum.

    Or maybe the Readers’ Rep Forum-less?

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  13. Leviticus–Why pile on? I’m already a broken man, smarting from Patterico’s failure to link my blog after contributing to his post…

    I’m sure XRLQ is feeling low, too.

    See Dubya (1fc18b)

  14. See Dubya’s post seems pretty insipid and doesn’t really deserve to be given space.

    I think you really just want the Times to turn over more of their bandwith for your obsessive and highly ideological brand of criticism. My sense is that Ms. Gold has a much larger audience in mind.

    She’s right to be selective.

    Allan Gulik (4602f9)

  15. Its a shame Allan, that you view the role of a newspaper as that of a shield to protect you from exposure to ideas that are foreign to your own ideology.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  16. Well said, SPQR. Well said, indeed.

    JD (2c9284)

  17. Allan –

    Remember that that wasn’t a post, it was just an attempt to comment on a post Jamie Gold had put up.

    Much like you have done here, only mine was much more civil.

    See-Dubya (1fc18b)

  18. Allan,

    I bet many of the commenters here consider your comment insipid.

    But I still allowed it to be published — just as I greenlight comments every day from people who disagree with me or criticize me.

    It takes a lot to get banned here, and if you’re not banned, you’re free to say what you like.

    Patterico (faeccf)

  19. Unlike at the Los Angeles Times …

    SPQR (26be8b)

  20. It is imperative that we all meet down at the LAT to demonstrate our passion on this subject.

    We need protest signs:

    FREE THE CHIMICHANGAS!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  21. Leviticus–Why pile on? I’m already a broken man, smarting from Patterico’s failure to link my blog after contributing to his post…

    I’m sure XRLQ is feeling low, too.

    I can take a hint.

    Patterico (faeccf)

  22. CHIMICHANGA-ISTS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    JD (2c9284)

  23. Update: On the Readers Rep page this morning

    - a scintillating look at an L.A. eatery selling a $250 pizza!

    - the devstating question, “Why can’t The Times publish a write-in questionnaire so readers can vote for their favorite strips?” is addressed head on!

    - and, after some reporter strokes, a more interesting meaningful question is addressed, “Why don’t you write more positive stories about hospitals?” to which the LAT answers “We hope that we are making health care safer by writing about what doesn’t go right.”

    Sigh.

    Dana (b4a26c)

  24. My sense is that Ms. Gold has a much larger audience in mind.

    My sense is that she has a liberal audience in mind. An audience that prefers unfiltered propaganda.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)


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