By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – In the land of the unaccountable the messenger seeks ways and means to cut costs. There are some who are crying fowl, many in fact. These are the legion of posters who like to add their own two bits – usually which is worth more than the paper the rag known as the Windsor Star is printed on – every time the Star prints something about the city’s less than beloved and failing mayor, an Edgar Francis.
Often these comments are diametrically opposed to the mush that the paper presents, which is probably appropriate because before newsprint dries into paper it is a mush that is bleeched white. Oddly enough these posted comments always, or at least a lot of times, seem at odds with the stuff produced by those of the Star’s reporters who, probably, at least it seems, have taken some kind of a sycophantic oath.
This was possibly done in a secret ceremony, maybe in the basement of city hall, although this is speculation.
With the oath in hand the scribblers at the Star miserably write nice things about a mayor who can do no wrong and inadvertently, or advertently, leave out some of the facts, at least the facts as others see them and which end up jumping onto its poster section to help balance out the so-called news content.
Now the conspiracy theorists are racing around town sharing their theories on why the Star is no longer accepting comments on the stories it publishes on its website. On February 28, 2012, almost the last day of the month save for some anomaly that happens every four years and gives the month an extra day, the Star announced that those who want to comment on its work can now do so on Facebook.
Facebook is a so-called social media site, on the surface. Some of the conspirators think it is more of a police sting operation or, as poster marcus47 thinks, “nothing but a government conspiricy” which means he thinks it could be a conspiracy.
Comments like that, which have never been proven, so far, in a court, make for interesting reading and add nothing if not a little sizzle to the mundane stuff the Star has as its wont to print.
But as enticing as these comments are – kinda like the icing on the cupcake – the whole reason the Star is doing away with comments is not to start some kind of conspiracy or even a made-to-look-like-one just to amuse its readers.
And it is not simply that it will be great to have its articles un-encumbered by non-sycophantic thought. Wrong on that thought too.
No, the real reason behind the move, at least to some observers and they could be right, is nothing more, nothing less than pure economics. Possibly there was a note from the company’s head office that told the paper’s combined editor and publisher that expenses must be cut and a good way would be to drop the people who have to review all the stuff the posters post. That does take time and can be an expense that is not needed.
On the other hand, this might be another coup for Windsor. According to the Star it “is the only daily in the Postmedia chain with Facebook commenting, but joins a growing list of papers across North America, including the Detroit Free Press and USA Today.”
Our local newspaper gets another first. It is leading the nation in cutting off commentary on a Postmedia daily newspaper. Now there is a good reason for all of us to celebrate that the paper is a kind of trailblazer if nothing else.
And speaking of nothing else, if the Star is cutting back on the work of its post reviewing staff, those beggars who have to read and review the comments, then the rest of the paper’s staff should start worrying given they could be cut next. Of course the paper’s owners probably know this because they are getting new, smaller digs for their organization and there might not be enough room for a full staff complement, whatever that is.
But, is this really a problem? It seems that most of the comments that are unacceptable on the paper’s site come from only one poster, that being some person who goes by the moniker name withheld.
He or she is the perennial user who the Star continually has to say “has been blocked by our staff.”
This does nothing if not prove that the move is economic given that if the Star had concerns about the not so nice content of this one poster – Name withheld – it should just have stopped accepting any postings from him or her or simply deleted anything from Name withheld, a five second solution to the problem.
There, problem solved. But if it is economic, as most suspect, and banning Name withheld is not an acceptable course of action there will no longer be posts on the paper’s website.
It will be most interesting to see if Name withheld, possibly the real conscious of the city, starts publishing his or her posts on Facebook.
For more of the Rest of the News listen to CJAM 99.1 Monday evenings at 8:30.