Friday, August 01, 2008

Morning Call Editor Glenn Kranzley Visits the LV Blogosphere

He comes in peace! Morning Call Opinion pages Editor Glenn Kranzley has dropped by for a visit. On Monday, he explained the new "Town Square" concept, designed to "give more space to community voices." As he explained at the time, Blogger Tuesday "will give our on-line audience easy entree to a dozen or so of the good blogs produced by Lehigh Valley folks."

Blogger Tuesday got off to a rocky start. Only one blog was featured online. Two appeared in the print edition. One author had no idea he was being read by a gazillion people.

Things will get better. Glenn has sent me a few paragraphs explaining Blogger Tuesday and asking you for suggestions. This is the first time an editor or reporter has actually asked me to post something. Do you realize what this means? I finally have a chance to edit Kranzley! So below you will find an edited version of Glenn's remarks.

"What mother names her kid Kinky Paprika? Seriously. Have you ever noticed that Molovinsky has no reflection in a mirror? Still, I read him with my scrapple every morning. When I'm trying to fall asleep, I read Ramblings. Works like a charm."

Alright, now I'll publish the unedited version of Glenn's remarks.

Valley Blogoshere, Sounding Board, iThink and the other innovations on The Morning Call Opinion pages are attempts to engage readers in new ways. Regarding bloggers in particular, yeah, we have our in-house bloggers, but I’ve come to recognize that there are some excellent blogs for and about the Lehigh Valley being written by others. The idea is that by linking to them off we give our readers entrĂ©e to some of the best of them. We think this will be as beneficial to the bloggers as it is to the newspaper. On average, The Morning Call has 13 million page views and 600,000 unique visitors per month. So, I would expect traffic to go up for all.

A lot of other papers do this as a service to readers. The feature that we have added is to print excerpts or digests on the printed page. I know I have to work out some operational bugs. On-line, we don’t touch the content of the blogs we link to, that’s standard. But what if a good posting doesn’t fit in the printed space available? What if I see mis-spellings? Perhaps some of the folks who read Ramblings will tell me what they think.

Glenn Kranzley
Editor of the opinion pages

Be nice! I know you're all aquiver, but Glenn is here under a flag of truce. He can't take the punches like Micek or White.


Blah Society said...

I liked the edited version better.

If The Morning Call is reproducing other people's work, don't they need some type of permission first? When I had a my letter to the editor published by The Express-Times they called to get my permission first and to confirm that I wrote what they had. Also, when they published my other works I had to sign a contract (but that could have been because I was getting paid.)

I know that if we reproduced an article written by a TMC reporter without permission there would be hell to pay.

Anonymous said...

Good morning,

I appreciate Mr. O'Hare's effort to have Mr. Kranzley consider how best to handle the paper's approach.

During a communication that I had with Mr. Kranzley, who did agree with my concerns, together we realized there was an opportunity to work out a policy that would be fair to as many people as possible.

There are always the legal issues, but to me what is important is doing the "right thing."

I would suggest that giving the author a "heads-up" and an option to deny the "honor" is the right thing. This gets around the "you are making money off of me" argument. Op-ed writers do not get paid, but they do know their work is being considered.

A blogger who does not place a legal notice about usage should recognize that their work might show up anywhere.

The editing issue is stickier. I understand the space problem faced by the paper. Perhaps they just should not publishing anything that does not fit. Grammar and spelling editing, I suppose, is ok, especially spelling. However, making a grammar change might alter what the author was trying to say. I think I'll go with no editing at all.

So, give a heads up with an option to refuse and pick only entries that fit.

Best regards,

Michael Donovan

Anonymous said...

Professional hacks being replaced by by unpaid, amateur hacks. Costs decline; quality stays the same. Everyone wins. Right?

Bill Villa said...

Glenn (or, Kranzley Press Secretary O'Hare), I have three excellent questions that deserve to be answered regarding the new "Sounding Board" feature ... and I hope I don't have to ask them one hundred forty-two (142) times but I certainly can if need be as there are no space limitations here.

Intended as an alternative (and hopefully a replacement, eventually) for the cesspool of racism and hate and advertising revenue that is The Morning Call Forum, "Sounding Board" participants will be required to register and post comments as themselves.

Glenn, this is an excellent idea. Yours?

My second question is: why not let anyone who is willing to register and post comments as themselves participate in "Sounding Board?"

As is, only a select/connected group of a-quivering honorees will be participating, as was explained in your description in the newspaper ...

"We [i.e., The Morning Call] will compile a list of folks who are well-informed, who read The Morning Call and other sources of news and opinion."

And there's a "Sounding Board" enrollment/audition form that needs to be filled out that Forum commenters on your article were having difficulty finding.

Question: "Sounding Board" could be perceived as a semi-clever way to stack the "Civil Discourse" deck with only those selected honorees you know will "play nice" during communications many people perceive as Morning Call Agenda Framing and Opinion Gate-Keeping.

How would you respond to my three (3) questions, and Bernie, please let Glenn answer, you can post your undying oath of a-quivering loyalty defense of Mr. Kranzley afterwards, thank you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

My suggestions re local blogs:

1) Talk to each blogger you want to include, even though it's not required for a link.

2) I wish I did have an editor. I agree with editing, as I'll notice spelling and grammar errors on my posts, and it drives me nuts. For those worried about a change in context, there's the link to the unedited work.

3) Insterad of a typed url, create hyperlinks for each blog referenced.

4) You could just link and have a snippet. That requires no permission at all, no matter how many disclaimers someone makes. That's what blog aggregators do. But I actually liked seeing the printed posts from Molovinsky and Donovan.

Bill Villa said...

"During a communication that I had with Mr. Kranzley, who did agree with my concerns, together we realized there was an opportunity to work out a policy that would be fair to as many people as possible." -Michael Donovan

While I think it's a positive thing that Mr. Kranzley is soliciting ideas, here, for a now-in-the-works policy on TMC using local blog content, I find it sorta surprising that there was no policy, or the "think-through" required for formulating a policy, prior to TMC's stumbling (and free) usage of Donovan's and Molovinsky's content. Soliciting ideas here basically amounts to ... gettng more free content. And managerial content at that. I don't mean to be "over-critical" (or a naysayer) but I can't help being observant ...

Blah Society said...

Taking portions, giving the proper credit and then linking to the rest of the source is no big deal. Bloggers do it all the time. Copying (and then editing) an entire post from someone requires permission. It shouldn't take an elite team of journalists and editors to figure that out.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

I'm quite sure Glenn Kranzley realizes the Morning Call is spiraling to the ground. The crash hasn't happened yet (and might not ever happen). If it should, Glenn is probably out of a (local) job, too.

Like Bill Villa, I have a beef with the anti-teacher editorial calls Glenn has made over the years, BUT, those were his calls, not mine. I respond by bad-mouthing the current Call management every chance I get. I'm sure that's what Bill Villa is also doing.

All that said, for Glenn to actually consider the presence of local bloggers to be a challenge is a positive step.

For several years now, the Call has done its thing almost with impunity. The result . . . the Call is now struggling and, from what I read and hear, the public has NO sympathy.

The Call made it's own bed, but selected the wrong bed cover. I have a bit of a smile on my own face!

What's sad is, the management folks who had a hand in those decisions are still picking-up a paycheck, and at the expense of loyal soldiers underneath.

Again, the acknowledgment of Glenn and the rest of Call to the worth of other forms of communication, like blogging, is a good thing.

Unfortunately, I see the Call losing many, many subscribers over the coming year. It might be too late for those eyes to have opened.

michael molovinsky said...

although there appears to be an inclination to say the morning call has reaped what it has sowed, the newspaper industry's financial dilemma appears to be widespread. an articles in today's business section reports that the newark star ledger paper is having the same problems, and it's not even owned by the evil zell.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

I know, Mike. I read the same thing. BUT I do believe some local papers WILL survive, and I think the Call can be one of them if it goes back to simply reporting the news and providing local features that can't be found anywhere else.

There are still lot's of bull-headed people in the Lehigh Valley that resent change. I'm one. We also resent smoke and mirrors. In this case, I believe that's been the Call's biggest blunder.


If we ever meet, can I have your autograph?
(now that you have been anointed)

Anonymous said...

Your comment-via-photo accompanying this post is simply hilarious. The blogosphere in photos: a cross between the Gaza Strip and a post nuclear, Mad Max world. Nicely done.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Merci. You're ther only one who caught that.

Bill Villa said...

Thank you MM, I think I'm starting to see the lite.

Maybe The Morning Call is A-OK after all.

On a related subject, if they take a shine to you, you could be Allentown's next Mayor ;)

So watch your Honoree Blogger Ps, and Qs, and spelling errors (oh and that pesky/past MC dissent), MM = "Mister Mayor!"

michael molovinsky said...

it's my understanding that the problem with the newspaper industry is less advertising revenue, not so much decreased circulation. my guess is that they make much less profit on distributing those inserts, than they used to actually printing ads in the paper proper. the morning call is profitable as a stand alone entity; unfortunately there are larger corporate expectations. the above thoughts are speculation on my part, i would appreciate hearing from a knowledgeable morning call person

Anonymous said...

I thought the topic here was "Blogging Tuesday" although that "Sounding Board" comment has me equally aquiver...

Anonymous said...

The Morning Call absolutely has to get permission to reprint -- in the print version -- blog posts beyond very brief snippets. What, did they lay off their attorney, too?

The fair use doctrine makes exceptions for "comment and criticism" -- if they're critiquing the blog; for news reporting -- if the blog entry is itself newsworthy; and for scholarship or research -- don't see that fitting here at all. Instead, the Call is using the blog posts for their original purpose, with no "transformative use" at all. That's copyright infringement, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

michael molovinsky said...
it's my understanding that the problem with the newspaper industry is less advertising revenue, not so much decreased circulation. my guess is that they make much less profit on distributing those inserts, than they used to actually printing ads in the paper proper. the morning call is profitable as a stand alone entity; unfortunately there are larger corporate expectations. the above thoughts are speculation on my part, i would appreciate hearing from a knowledgeable morning call person

Some of your speculation is spot on, some not quite. The industry is suffering from unprecedented advertising declines. Circulations had been declining for many years. The gradual ad and circulation revenue losses were accelerated by the explosion of the internet, which just kicked the problem into overdrive. Then the economy went into the tank at the worst possible time, while
newspapers "retooled their business models" (MBA bullshit). TMC is suffering from all those external pressures, plus the bad fortune of being owned by a company that is in debt to its eyeballs.

TMC is also hampered by short-sighted, good 'ol boy, dare I say inept management. First, they arrogantly dismissed the interent as no threat. When the threat became real, they fumble through playing catch-up, too little, too late.

Their vision is simply to do what makes them look good to their masters TODAY. Less product, outsourcing the subscriber service to a foreign country (a LOCAL newspaper), changing delivery from front porch to sidewalk, acknowledged (behind closed doors)editorial bias. The latest round of layoffs is just another sign. Talented journalists are cast off, there are golf buddies and eye-candy that produce little still on the payroll while the product continues its downward spiral.

Someone had mentioned that TMC situation looks a lot like the Bethlehem Steel saga. My money is on a similar outcome.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 5:20,

That's my understandsing of copyright law as well. A copyright is always presumed - there's no need for the disclaimer I see on some blogs.

Under the copyright law, it is illegal to simply take a story from someone else and re-publish it. Under the fair use doctrine, it is entirely permikssible to take snippets or quotes from another's work. On the Internet, it is legally permissible to link to another source. No permiossion is needed. It is also legally permissible to take a snippet from that blog along with the link. That's wehat blog aggregators like Blognet do. In fact, many of the blogs now contain a link and a snippet from the linked blog, which is totally legal.

In this case, I believe the failure to obtain Donovan's permission was an oversight. Givew all the changes taking place, that is understandable.

On my blog, I installed a creative commons license some months ago. Anyone is entitled to take all or a portion of one of my blogs. All that I request is attribution. This license is not limited to the MC but applies to anyone.

Bill Villa and Anon 4:41,

The topic here is Blogger Tuesday - not Sounding Board. Since you've suggested that bloggers refrain from offering suggestions without remuneration, I ask that you stop posting comments here, whether it's under your own name or anonymously. The MC can decide whether it wants to pay for your advice. Also, if you want to question MM's integrity, you have his phone number and email address.

Bill Villa said...

"Bill Villa and anon 4:41 ... Since you've suggested that bloggers refrain from offering suggestions without remuneration, I ask that you stop posting comments here, whether it's under your own name or anonymously." -Bernie

(?) There's a logic disconnect here, Bernie (?)

Why you really want me banned from here is because I'm asking too many excellent questions that deserve to be answered.

Et tu, Brute?

Bill Villa said...

"Bill Villa ... The MC can decide whether it wants to pay for your advice." -Bernie

Bernie I'll give you $100.00 for every piece of "advice" I've offered The Morning Call at this post.

I've asked questions. Excellent questions that deserve to be answered. And that Glenn Kranzley (as usual) is ignoring. You too.

But I've given them no advice, Bernard.

Go ahead, hit DELETE, and you'll be in the same league with that blame-eluding "MC Upper Management" you speak of, in one keystroke.

Angie Villa said...

I have a question about images. I think they are important to some blog posts, and I would hope that Mr. Kranzley would not cut the image or choose his own image.

This is just another reason why permission is needed first.

And I don't like the idea of editing the piece to fit in a space.

I can't believe the MC editors did not think about a courtesy policy ahead of time.

And the idea of being linked to the hate forum bothers me.

Anonymous said...

what about getting paid? using bloggers to fill up the pages might seem to border on exploitation . . . especially as they are replacing what 30 laid off reporters?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't see that as an issue. Most of us who blog do so bc we are interested in our communities. It's not the money, but an opportunity to drive public interest and discussion.

MM, for example, wrote a post about a neglected cemetary. He never expected people to pay him for that story. He wrotew it in the hope that others would recognize the problem, too. When the MC ran his post, his goal weas realized.

I would rather see the paper save its money to pay its reporters and columnists than to see the paper pay bloggers. But I'm sure any blogger could tell the paper it must pay him. Then the paper can decide whether the writing is worth the money.

For most of us, the reward is an opportunity to say something that is not otherwise heard. Each of us who blog have messages. AJ could focus on Boscola or the MC hate forum. One of my blogs about NC council might be entertaining bc it's a view from the cheap seats, and it's a very opinionated view at that. Dottie has all kinds of stories about the West End and Chen Arts Group. Kathy F is the funniest lady in the LV. Blue Coyote always has something interesting about our local legislators. Alfonso Todd, while not technically a blogger, has brilliant essays at LV Flavor. Fpr the far, far, far, far left, you've got LV Independent.

Lopt of voices. Very different. Very interesting. Glenn Kranzley has a good idea here.

michael molovinsky said...

i think perhaps the lehigh valley blogosphere must get a grip on itself, then be careful of what we wish for. as for the grip; printing two posts a week from bloggers will hardly be providing the morning call with free content, it's space that would otherwise be occupied by letters to the editor. each year they receive thousands which they do not print.
In Bernie's previous post, he condenses an excellent article by Cris Hedges. Mr. Hedges, in the full article to which bernie provides a link, pretty much describes the dilemma facing our newspapers, including the Morning Call. My hope is that it survives, even in a diluted form.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I just deleted a Bill Villa comment that simply quotes all the comments. It is repetitive. People can read the comments for themselves.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have just deleted a second OT comment from Villa. Additional OT comments and personal attacks will be deleted w/o discussion.

bobguzzardi said...

If the Morning Call wanted to promote my point of view at its expense, I would be thrilled. Free advertising for my ideas. A Blogger blogs without compensation as a means of self expression to articulate his or her point of view to the public.

If MC is willing to further publish it, it seems to me to be "win-win". Editing could be an issue because sometimes editing may, inadvertently, change meaning. but there is always the link to original blog. I think MC's willingness to use bloggers to present diverse points of view to the public is an excellent idea. I have found some of Bernie's posts to be far more informative than what I read in the MC which is light years better than Philadelphia Inquirer.