by Glenn C. Koenig, webmaster at Town Wide Mall
And in so choosing, they must try to satisfy some basic criteria, such as:
• Am I curious about this subject?
• Will my audience be interested in this story, or find it of value?
• Do I have the resources (time, skills, and background) to do this story justice?
• Can I tell the story sufficiently in only a few hundred words / a few pictures / short video clips?
• Will my audience have the time and patience to delve into this story, once I publish it?
• Did someone already start a thread on Facebook, potentially rendering my story idea moot?
OK, that last one does actually happen,* but I certainly can’t blame anyone for sharing news on Facebook! Clearly as a very small journalism outfit (me, and one other reporter, so far), I certainly can’t expect to cover more than a tiny fraction of what’s of interest here in town.
Anyway, I call this bias, “selection bias.” That is, the selection of which stories to tell is a bias hidden behind the scenes, so to speak, in any news organization. We read (or listen to, or watch) the news that we see. It’s hard to think about what else there might be, while our minds are focused on the stories at hand. When the New York Times says “All the news that’s fit to print,” that’s clearly a bit presumptuous! Anyway, it’s a phrase in the passive voice. Perhaps it should say “All the news we saw fit to print.”
If you click on the headline of this story, above, and then scroll all the way down, you should see a comment box. If you fill that in and click the "Submit" button, I will consider your suggestion. Yes, your comment will be seen by other readers of this story, if you do this. So if you need to write to me privately, you can always use the “Contact Us” feature in the main menu bar, at the right hand end.
Please understand, as stated in my list of criteria above, I may not find it practical to do a story on everything suggested by readers. My resources remain rather limited, and I have some limitations other than selection bias, so I may choose not to do some stories. But, regardless, I invite you to give it a try.
* Case in point: The Green Meadow School building topic and upcoming vote story exploded on Facebook before I could complete my story on the topic. I published my story, anyway, as I had worked for months on researching it, but when I tried to give notice on the various Facebook group pages devoted to Maynard, the existing threads "floated to the top" of those groups and my story notice was "pushed down" into relative obscurity.
OK, my ego was a bit bruised, I must admit. But after all that work, it was difficult to see that happen. Finally, I decided to post links to my story within the threads started by others.
Meanwhile, I'm working on a bulk e-mail system, but I don't have it ready yet. My goal is to allow people to subscribe to an e-mail feed without having to log onto Facebook, if they don't desire to (or they just don't have a Facebook account.)
I understand the popularity of Facebook, as it's much easier to start a group or post comments there, as opposed to constructing and updating one's own web site. One drawback, however, is the addictive nature of Facebook, a "feature" carefully cultivated by the company that runs it. Once you log in, it throws many very enticing other posts at you. After awhile, you realize that you've spent an hour and a half on there, when you only intended to be online for ten minutes.
(Note: Town Wide Mall did not receive any benefit from Cambridge Typewriter for this mention.)