Saturday, February 11, 2012

On a 'disappearing' national story and its attached comments

A reader comments this morning on the "disappearance" of a national story from our website, inferring that editors are trying to quash criticism of President Barack Obama.

freecitrizen on 02/11/2012 08:02:46 said:
"Isn’t it interesting that the FREEMAN puts a national story on its web page late at night, to which many readers respond, but in the morning it has disappeared because the FREEMAN doesn’t want readers to see challenges to its far left presentation of the news about the current Administration? And yet the publisher claims to provide a more balanced presentation of the news and wonders why readership has declined."

This explanation/interpretation is wrong. Following is the comment I posted on the Freeman website after his comment:

Re comment of freecitizen:
The absence of a story may be "interesting" in the way you mean if you make up an explanation, as you have. The truth, however, is less fascinating.
First, the story to which you must be referring -- Obama's revision of policy on contraceptive coverage, since it's the only one that fits the comment -- wasn't put on the website "late at night." It was posted in midafternoon, after the president's press conference. It was on the site for most of the balance of the day, about 12 hours.
Further, the story did not disappear for any reason other than that which explains why most national stories that happen early in the news cycle are allowed to expire when our entire website is refreshed at 3a. Namely, the news will be old by Web standards by the time most people start logging onto the site after 8a. (Local news has a longer shelf life since many of the stories we originate can only be found here.)
All of yesterday's stories remain available on the site under yesterday's date, as do the comments of readers.
Finally, since the comment is about our website, it's also only fair to point out that the writer is mistaken about our readership -- our Web readership is strong and growing steadily. Taking print and Web together, there are more people now reading the Freeman than ever before in its history.
We really do invite your comments on all news stories and couldn't care less about the slant you take as long as comments are not libelous, profane or unduly harsh about other readers. The more community discussion of the stories we post, the better we like it. We see this as an important part of our role.


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