By Nicole Gennarelli
The Poynter KSU Media Ethics Workshop was extremely interesting. I got the chance to actually work behind-the-scenes for part of it in the morning, as well as sit in and listen to the Online News Association (ONA) panelists. The panel consisted of John Kroll, from the Plain dealer; Michelle Jarboe, from the Plain Dealer; and Bruce Winges, from the Akron Beacon Journal. The topic was Reporters and the Audience: A two-way street.
John Kroll talked about how the Plain Dealer has a three prong program that deals with taking down offensive comments posted online. Reporters like to engage with the reader over stories and allow a two-way street for communication. He talked about how reporters decide where to draw lines on rude comments, and that they have started to remove comments that cause controversy.
Michelle Jarboe talked about how she remembered when commenting was not open to the public. She was thrilled when she could respond to sources and readers’ comments on the website. Every time someone comments on one of her stories she receives and e-mail and she asks herself, “Do I really need to comment on this?” Sometimes comments require more than one answer and others she decides to let go because she has more important work.
Bruce Winges discussed how it is always good to look for a way to interact with readers. Blogs, Facebook and social media platforms allow readers to have a positive or negative voice in stories that are published. He has realized that when stories get posted on Facebook, the conversations about them get better. Winges also talked about how at the end of a story there is a reminder to “play nice” for readers. It’s not always a good idea to post controversial comments on certain stories. Some overly controversial stories will have comments blocked completely.
Overall, it was a great experience. I had a great time working behind the scenes and listening to media experts. I learned a lot and can’t wait for next year’s workshop.