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We now have another way to connect with readers

April 20, 2008|By TIM SHEA

Readers who have had questions about why we make some of the decisions we make here at The Herald-Mail only have had a couple of avenues available to them in the past.

One option was to pick up the phone and ask the city editor, executive editor or whomever else you needed to speak with to make your opinion known.

Writing a letter to the editor that would run on our opinion pages was another option.

Another option was to just do nothing.

Thanks to the ever-expanding Internet and the resources available on our Web site, there now is a new option.

We have started an "Editors' blog" on our Web site at www.herald-mail.com.

To get to this blog from the home page, click on the Opinion tag, then choose Blogs. Once there, simply click on Editors' blog and you're there.

Some of our staff members, including Opinion Page Editor Bob Maginnis and our sports writers, have been doing blogs for a while. For some of us in the newsroom, this is new territory.

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The idea for the blog came from a weeklong copy editing seminar I attended in December at The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.

During a session there, Vicki Krueger, the interactive learning editor at Poynter, showed us a variety of copy editing resources. This included editors' blogs from several newspapers, including The (Baltimore) Sun, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer.

Frankly, this is a heck of an idea and one that we should have started a lot sooner. But better late than never.

The blogs could be on a wide spectrum of topics. At this point, the sky's the limit.

We could write about how we approached a controversial topic. Can you imagine what we could have done with the Allegheny Power light-bulb distribution fiasco? The comments that readers could have made about that would have lighted up the blog, no pun intended.

Which brings me to another purpose of the blog. We want to know what you, the readers, think about what we're doing. We want comments and feedback. Positive comments would be great, but I'm sure there will be negative feedback, and that's OK.

Want to know why we give so much coverage to a certain topic? We can tell you. You might agree or disagree, but at least we can give you a reason. And if you have this question on a Monday, you won't have to wait until Sunday's editor's column. We can get back to you sooner with the blog.

Want to know why we didn't publish a photo with a story? We can tell you what went into our decision, and we can even put a copy of the photo on the blog and let you judge whether we made the right call.

Several editors will contribute to this blog, including myself and Executive Editor Terry Headlee. We will try to add entries to the blog on a daily, or almost daily, basis. We want to keep this updated with fresh material to keep it viable.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this new blog takes us, and I hope our readers will find this to be another valuable way to make their voices heard.

Tim Shea is a Herald-Mail copy editor. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2329, or by e-mail at tims@herald-mail.com.

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