Stuck on Cyber-Stupid: May I be so bold as to offer some free advice to the folks at the Times Picayune.

I personally recommend the lightest of touch on the delete button, especially when the topic is controversial like yesterday’s Times Picayune society pump of Fred and Jennifer Heebe of River Birch trash fame. You see, while staying with the Pollyanna in comments may make Freddie and the gang over at the mansion happy but it also makes it look as if the Times Picayune is covering for a crook:

The TP ran this story in spite of the Federal investigation concerning the Heebes, which would indicate that this mansion was bought with dirty money from dirty Jefferson Parish business deals. Each and every comment alluding to this was pulled down yesterday. Let’s see how early the “comment yanker” wakes up on Sundays. As you delete this comment, please feel the shame of glorifying people who are crooks and who, in due time, will be in the Federal penitentiary . . . at least one of them anyway.

Now I would never presume to tell anyone else what to write mainly because I don’t like it when someone presumes to tell me the subject matter that I should be writing about. For me, I’m only good writing on topics that interest me and to that extent, if contributing society pumper R. Stephanie Bruno wants to take the turd that is the Heebes and pretend it smells like lavender more power to her!  That said, in order to maintain credibility with the reading public, ALL points of view (that do not cross into defamation, slander or libel) should be allowed in comments.

So suffice it to say I was immediately interested when I began getting emails from readers noting the comment deletions and indeed I took a snap shot of this story yesterday afternoon, evidently just before the cyber axe was wielded yet again by the comment moderator at the T-P.

I personally do not think the beat journalists at the T-P have an interest in covering for Freddie Heebe.  I also do not think Stephanie Grace or James Gill are interested in running interference for the local landfill aristocracy.  That said whoever is manning the controls at the T-P just made their jobs covering the JP beat harder (again).

Yep.

You’re either a pumper or a basher bubba because there is nothing else on these boards. ~ Fortune 100 exec to Sop circa 2004.

sop

8 thoughts on “Stuck on Cyber-Stupid: May I be so bold as to offer some free advice to the folks at the Times Picayune.”

  1. It might behoove the federales to inquire amongst the TP folks about any personal ‘interests’ any of them might hold in the River Birch contract or tangential endeavors. If indeed one media personality is icky with River Birch trash what’s to say the idjits at the TP don’t have some ulterior motives for
    ‘glorifying’ the inglorious bastards?

    Anyone who has commented with any regularity on the TP site knows that censorship lives and comments are ‘disappeared’ … those in the know also print out the story as soon as it appears because the story has been known to ‘change’ ( pictures also) as the day drags on and the targets awaken and begin calling to have the ‘spin’ put on and their visages and negatory comments removed.

    It must be good to be the Heebes. NOT.

  2. http://www.nola.com/katrina/index.ssf/2011/03/hurricane_katrina_pushed_landf.html

    The TP doesn’t know if it is coming or going. One day, it glorifies Fred Heebie and his gentrification, and the next day, it makes him look like a character straight out of the Sopranos. He is a scumbag, no doubt, and the TP should quit singing from different hymnals from day to day.

    I also found it interesting that Diaper Dave Vitter and his mentor (in the “I have not been faithful” arena) were sucking on the trash tit too. As I said yesterday, no matter your R, D, or Ind, money corrupts all absolutely. Vitter, you are a two-faced, cheating scumbag too, who is no better than Fred Heebie and you are a disgrace to the Republican party; Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave.

  3. What struck me (among other things) in today’s Times Picayune’s “Garbage Wars” page one article by Michelle Krupa and Gordon Russell was the second-to-last paragraph: “After Katrina, River Birch’s expenditures on lobbying exploded, jumping from $50,000 in 2005 to $400,000 in 2006, reports showed. Former U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston, R-Metairie, now an influential Washington-based lobbyist, received the lion’s share of the earnings.” One day, I guess we’ll learn what Henry Mouton did with the $463,000 (or thereabouts) which he is reported to have received from “co-conspirator no. 1”, not yet identified, how the money was distributed by Mr. Mouton, and to whom, and for “what”. I guess we’ll also learn the identity of “co-conspirator no. 1” in due course, which will end the speculation. But in the meantime I have a question: HOW COULD “SMART” PEOPLE BE SO STUPID? Ashton O’Dwyer.

  4. A little fyi about how things work at nola.com, or maybe how I think they work.

    Nola.com is part of a large number of local papers who sign up for a similar platform via a company called Advance.net, or Advance Publications.

    Here is a list:

    http://www.advance.net/index.ssf?/advance_internet/newspapers.html

    As you can see they are everuwhere, the west, the northeast, and at least 3 sites on the Gulf Coast (MS, AL, and nola).

    This is kind of like Fight Club on nola. You can’t talk about Advance and you cannot talk [post] about its deletion policies. Complaints and questions or comments about deletions will get deleted.

    Advance is located in New Jersey. As I understand it the basic setup is that content management for the online comments is handled there. Typically there is little to no management but like anything else you can pay for any level of service. In these cases content management can be negligible or active and it can be run by Advance or they can handle it locally. Basically the only way anything should get deleted anywhere is if it is in violation of the User Agreement:

    http://www.nola.com/useragreement/

    Nola despite what many think was *not* managed by the TP for a very long time. It was run by Advance. In New Jersey.

    However, at some point there was a series of growing complaints about the comments section, in particular that they contained a number of racist and/or offensive comments.

    Examples exist here:

    http://nolacommentwatch.blogspot.com/

    My understanding is that due to this, at some point nola.com took over a more active management of their online “community.” They took on active local management and redesigned the interface.

    The management team can be found at the bottom of this page:

    http://www.nola.com/connect/

    But here’s the thing about deletion of comments – it can be accomplished and manipulated by the readers themselves.

    If you notice in the comments section there are some obvious buttons like, “Reply,” “Post,” “New,” but there is also THIS:

    “Inappropriate? Alert us.”

    Basically, a reader can “button” or “alert” a comment and have it removed. And i they use the right terms or reasons they can definitely do it.

    Nola’s online management is pretty variable, I think. They may be contract people at home or in coffee shops, or they may be professional IT types in their actual offices in downtown New Orleans, not sure.

    Now we all know about the TP’s editorial proclivities. Peter Butler may have single handedly had the retraction printed and posted about Trout Point Lodge when as we have clearly seen there was no justification for that retraction whatsoever. We know the TP does not print, write, allow certain information in both JP and Orleans for various reasons.

    But I am not sure if that runs to the comments section on Nola.com.

    But I do know that companies and governmental agencies hire people, or use their own employees, to manage content online. There is the well known example of the Army Corps of Engineers doing that locally. The former Nola online content manager, Jon Donnelly blew the whistle on that but then had to quit because after all he revealed he had been collecting user online ID information all along, which is a violation of the privacy policy.

    http://www.nola.com/privacypolicy/

    There was also a story in the news recently in which it was revealed that the Pentagon had formed a new team to do something similar to pump up the military’s image and profile online surreptitiously.

    Political candidates have done this for quite some time now as well. There was a burst of online activity from both campaigns in the 2008 presidential election.

    And of course there was The Riot and his truly hamfisted, clayfooted foray into the digital world where he got his hat handed to him, badly.

    But all it takes is one person. Seriously someone involved can push that “alert” button and have a comment removed. A relative can. A JP employee can. Any person sympathetic to any person mentioned in a comment can have the comment removed if they know how to work the “Alert” system (or heck even if they don’t).

    Given the money that River Birch has put into its marketing push – the fliers, the website [nolafact.org, which is run by an out of state pr company by the way] – it would not be surprising if this was being externally manipulated rather than conscious and purposeful activity from the TP.

    This is an example of such a company:

    http://iando.com/

    Their services extend to:

    “Social Media Strategy, Profiles, & Updates”

    And they provide more:

    http://iando.com/insight/

    http://iando.com/outreach/

    Also, if you take a look I think it’s interesting that nolafact.org is set up as a *blog*, a wordpress blog at that with fields available for comments. You have to wonder if the Birchers or their strategists have been influenced by what they have seen here, they seem aware of it and maybe felt the need to counter it. Social media can potentially kill traditional pr. Modern pr companies do both and that may be what we are seeing here. Companies like the above put together an expensive but comprehensive strategy.

    Just a theory.

  5. Quality stuff Telemachus.

    I’ll add that message boards and other social media outlets (like comments to news stories) are a microcosm of society. Newspapers, because of their wider readership are the most microcosmic, to coin a word and often show the extent to which far too many folks in society are ignorant and otherwise intolerant.

    Instead of censoring comments there is a better appoach, one that requires the manpower of having an actively engaged moderator, not to steer the conversation a certain way but to foster a civil discussion.

    I like the T-P’s online fomat. Hopefully our discussion will prompt a healthy internal one there about the value of all comments.

    sop

  6. Ashton: Not smart people IMHO but arrogant and used to getting away with it. The Age of Entitlement is a phrase coined by the folks who wrote the book by the same name. It says it all.

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