As you read this I'll either be in the air or already have landed in Chicago. Nick White, recently named Interactive Media Editor of the Reflector, and I will be attending a two-day Inland Press Foundation seminar on "Making the 24-Hour Newsroom Work."
Times have really changed the last decade. No longer can we get that hot news story and hold it until the next day's paper. By then it's too late. People want their news now. And they like to add their two cents.
The stories on our Web site (www.norwalkreflector.com) now have a comment feature ... and our readers are taking full advantage of it.
Two stories in particular last week really got people commenting one about Doug Berry's historic house burning down on East Main Street and another about a suicide in Jaycees Park.
There used to be a day when somebody would read a story, think about it, pull out a piece of paper, jot down a letter, shove it into an envelope, put a stamp on it, then send it to the newspaper.
By the time we got the letter, confirmed the sender, then ran it, the life of the story had probably run its course.
Today, you can read the story and instantly reply.
The story concerning a Willard woman, Joyce Garcia, "Willard won't budge on law despite plight of handicapped resident," has drawn plenty of opinions.
Here's one example:
firstname.lastname@example.org wrote on May 20, 2007 2:28 a.m.:
" Yo...Joyce is one of the sweetest persons I know.....I used to work with her and she is very special....a Chrisian lady......if she could walk she would....Master Ludban, look at the lawns and sidewalks all over town, and on and on....Leave her alone....it would be nice if someone would build her a wheelchair ramp...maybe some church group will do it....she needs help....not a ticket for where she parks....May God have mercy on us all !!! "
A couple of things about the letter. It was direct and to the point. No name-calling. And the writer even brought out a good point. Maybe there is somebody out there who can help her with a ramp.
Another story generating interest concerns Berry's Restaurant serving alcohol in Bresson Park: "OUR VIEW - City ought to let Berry's serve alcohol."
N H concerned tax payer wrote on May 15, 2007 3:44 p.m.:
"I first off do not see where it has become tax payers responsibility to help increase business by providing a business with expansion of their business on city property that is maintained by city dollars. If any other business in this town expands, whether it be a restaurant, factory, retail, or grocery store they the business owners foots the bill not the tax payers. You say this will increase business up town. For who ... They want to expand, then they need to buy their own property but not at the cost of tax payers."
There are plenty of opinions out there, and this Internet feature gives people a chance to tell it like it is. It is our job to give you that forum.
This is a learning experience for all of us and we are tweaking the process as we go. I'm sure Nick and I will get a lot of great ideas in Chicago.
We'd like to know what you think about the process and what we can do to make it easier for you to respond.