Blogs > Tell the Editor

A conversation between readers and the editor of The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio

Monday, March 8, 2010

What's this all about?

Today brings this first entry in The Morning Journal's new Tell the Editor blog.
What's this all about, you ask? This is my effort, as Editor of The Morning Journal, to engage readers in a continuing discussion. The talk will focus on the local news and opinion delivered daily in print and online at www.MorningJournal.com. I hope the discussion will lead to improvements in our neighborhoods and in this newspaper and its Web site.

That's about it. Whatever is on your mind, please tell me, the editor.

I'll do my best to listen and respond. I've always been happy to do just that, but until now those conversations have been in person, by phone or e-mail. Views also have been expressed through your letters to the editor, and through the newspaper's daily "Our View" editorials and "The Editor's Column" which appears in the Opinion section on Sundays.

Now, this public blog lets others in on the questions and answers that, in the past, might only have been delivered one-on-one. Opening up the conversation will, I hope, help me and my staff to get a better grasp of what's on our readers' minds and help us all make this a better newspaper and a better community.

Let's talk.

24 Comments:

Anonymous The Raven said...

I'm curious to know why commenting on stories involving former police officer Cory Earl has been blocked.

A newspaper blocking commentary is an oxymoron, is it not?

March 8, 2010 at 8:09 PM 
Anonymous Grammy said...

Congratulations for taking what could turn out to be a challenging step. Best of Luck!

March 9, 2010 at 3:06 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I have found the Morning Journal to be an exteremly partisan newspaper-- one that does not represent its readership. In fact, the Morning Journal firmly represents an economic system that has created the problems in Lorain (greed, outsourcing, fiscal conservatism, etc).

A good example was the last presidential election. It was probably not a mistake that when Brady Quinn and Joe Thomas showed up in Strongsville for John McCain, it was front page; when LeBron James campaigned in Cleveland for Obama-- nothing.

Hire a balancing local columnist; your "fair and balanced" is the equivalant to FOX NEWS-- to the point that your editorial comments are not regarded as objective. Or at least hire some bloggers to your website to initiate good conversation.

March 9, 2010 at 9:18 AM 
Anonymous Dale Scherfling said...

I'm glad to see this spot opening up; at least someone in the media (hopefully) will see these comments. I assume you do realize that most of America is unhappy with just about everything in our present-day government, our out-of-touch politicians and our relationship with the rest of the world. I also assume you realize that most of America is also disgusted with the media because (1) of it's one-sided reporting and (2), lack of official editorial leadership in protesting our political climate.

In short, I strongly feel that neither our government or our media speak or represent main-stream America.

March 9, 2010 at 9:36 AM 
Anonymous Loraine Ritchey said...

Good luck from "thatwoman" blog

March 9, 2010 at 10:27 AM 
Blogger Tom Skoch, Editor, The Morning Journal said...

We reluctantly block the comment function on certain kinds of stories, such as that one. Experience shows these stories tend to get hijacked by people or groups of people who just spew vularities and personal attacks and exhibit other "unprintable" uncivil behavior. That violates our ground rules for comments and it brings complaints from people who want to read legitimate comments without having to wade through sewage.

March 9, 2010 at 12:35 PM 
Blogger Tom Skoch, Editor, The Morning Journal said...

"Anonymous" above thinks the MJ is too conservative. Two posts later, "Dale Scherfling" seems to say the MJ is too liberal. I think people see what they want to see when they look at our news coverage.

I don't remember what we did about LeBron and Obama in Cleveland, but I know we gave front page coverage to Obama's visit to Lorain on Feb. 24, 2008, during his primary campaign.

We also covered Hillary Clinton campaigning for Obama in Elyria during the general election in 2008.

More recently, we provided extensive coverage of Obama's town hall meeting at LCCC in Elyria and even provided live video of his speech, plus the text of his speech among other coverage.

March 9, 2010 at 1:04 PM 
Anonymous Loraine Ritchey said...

I take it that you will be putting up different subjects to stimulate conversation will this be daily , weekly?

Since we are seemingly discussing the Journal today I have a some questions.

How difficult is it for you as an Editor to make sure that your staff report and write in a fair an balanced way , how do you keep personal opinions of your reporters from flavouring an article?

Also through the years I have noticed a lot of different "by lines" come and go . What does the Journal do to aclimate the new reporters to the "history" of happenings in this town and the locals since a great deal of let us say "news stories" especially with politics have a history . Is there an orientation period for new reporters? Thanks Loraine

March 9, 2010 at 1:29 PM 
Blogger Tom Skoch, Editor, The Morning Journal said...

Loraine, my plan is to have at least one new thing to say each day.

As for keeping reporters' personal opinions from skewing news stories, there are five safeguards.

First, each reporter is schooled in the ethics of keeping personal opinion out of their writing.

Second, each story gets a close editing from a well-experienced editor on the city desk who makes sure it passes muster.

Third, the story next goes to the copy desk where it is typically read by a few more editors before it gets on a page.

Fourth, if it's a major story, I'll be looking at it too, as will our Managing Editor April Elliott.

Finally, once the story is on a page, the page gets proofed again by copy editors.

So, after a story leaves a reporter's hands it gets read by several editors at various stages before it goes to press. That system tends to scrub away any personal slant a story might have had to begin with.

Finally, newspaper reporting has always been a "learn on the job" occupation. Our young new reporters get bombarded with informal "local history" lessons from their grizzled older editors. Reporters also tap our news story archives. The goal is to give them all the background they need to tackle each story.

March 9, 2010 at 2:34 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Skoch,

That was some nice justification on your part. Your perspectives (editorials) are undeniably conservative. Mr. Scherfling said that the media (in general) is not main stream. You swiftly avoided the issue-- like a true Republican.

March 9, 2010 at 2:45 PM 
Anonymous Loraine Ritchey said...

Thank you for the quick response and I look forward to the "discourse in due course" :) Loraine

March 9, 2010 at 2:48 PM 
Blogger Tom Skoch, Editor, The Morning Journal said...

Anonymous,

Didn't realize I was so slick. Am I conservative? Guilty. Am I a Republican? Not guilty.

As for "your editorial comments are not regarded as objective" ... that's the point. Editorial comments by definition take a particular viewpoint. That's what makes them editorial comments. Our Views are what they are. We don't take a poll of readers to see what we're supposed to think. We say what we think is right for the city, state and country. That's what editors and Opinion Pages are supposed to do, and have done, all over the nation.

March 9, 2010 at 3:15 PM 
Anonymous Teddybear's Better-half said...

Let's hope that the Morning Journal will put forth some "real" information regardiing things like local politicans and the school system here in town, not just what some people want all of us to hear. Let's take an indepth look at spending and other factors that are having a harsh impact on all of us.

March 9, 2010 at 3:49 PM 
Anonymous The Raven said...

Sir,

Eliminating the ability to comment on certain subjects and not on others does concern me. I do however understand the need to eliminate some comments.

Blocking posting of comments could rob the person concerned in the story well wishes and encouragement.

Some of the conversations posted in the comments section of the MJ I agree, have turned quite spirited. I have taken part in many of those conversations. I will continue to as well. It is just disturbing that we can celebrate the execution of an inmate, discuss racial issues in a negative manner but cannot post comments regarding a specific former cop when we can post comments about other former and current cops.

I do not have a vendetta against any officer in Lorain. I support the majority of them and I certainly support the law.

We do have the "terms of use" policy which can be enforced so that the most blatant comments are disposed of, but we need to remember, these are our opinions, nothing more.

March 9, 2010 at 5:26 PM 
Blogger Kelly Boyer Sagert said...

Best of luck in your new adventure!

March 9, 2010 at 6:05 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fair enough, and that is a good point. It is an opinion piece, I understand.

However, understand also that there is a fair amount of power that goes with the editorial position of a local newspaper. People regard it with authority. That's why polticians promote their newspaper endorsements.

You know what you get when you turn on Fox or open The Nation. I don't think that a local newpaper should reach that level. I don't think it is expected that it reaches that level. However, I guess as long as all the cards are on the table, it's fair to present a biased perspective.

The bigger picture is that people need to understand the issue from both sides...there's a disconnect and, based on the media, people often support that which is not in their best interest-- because someone they trust said so. People don't have time to research each and every issue. I guess that's not really your repsonsibility, but you could help. Maybe present an "other side" editorial.

Anyway, thanks for your comments. Sorry about the Republican quip.

March 9, 2010 at 6:27 PM 
Blogger Tom Skoch, Editor, The Morning Journal said...

For those rare stories with no comment function, well-wishers and others are always welcome to write a publishable Letter to the Editor online at
http://www.morningjournal.com/opinion/letters/

March 9, 2010 at 7:20 PM 
Blogger Tom Skoch, Editor, The Morning Journal said...

"Teddybear's Better-half said...
Let's hope that the Morning Journal will put forth some "real" information regardiing things like local politicans and the school system here in town, not just what some people want all of us to hear. Let's take an indepth look at spending and other factors that are having a harsh impact on all of us.

That's our aim. Here's one of my recent favorites http://tinyurl.com/yz4jmox on Lorain wasting $6,500 on unused city cell phones. That came out of a reporter's Freedom of Information Act request for billing records, just to see what might be in them.

Good, solid investigative stories take time, ingenuity and, often, a good tip from someone who knows something.

Sometimes an investigation reveals that the suspected dirty deeds everyone "knows" are true are only so much hot air.

All tips are welcome. We'll sort them out. Just call me at 440-204-6930 or e-mail me at tskoch@morningjournal.com.

March 9, 2010 at 7:48 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr.Skoch, This question was asked a few times in the past, with no response. The question was how many Black reporters or administration staff does the Morning Journal employ? My grandfather, the late Robert Thomas, worked there for many many years, as a special interest story writer.

March 10, 2010 at 10:44 AM 
Blogger Tom Skoch, Editor, The Morning Journal said...

Our news staff comes in a variety of hues and ethnicities. At the moment we have no Black news staffers. We did last year. We will likely later this year. I can think of 12 Black reporters and copy editors, plus several other staffers who served in other newsroom roles while I've been here. None was hired because they were black. All were hired because they were good journalists. All of us adored the late Darlene Brown. She was the best journalist of us all. Send resumes to tskoch@morningjournal.com.

March 10, 2010 at 11:53 AM 
Anonymous Loraine Ritchey said...

Darlene Brown is and was truly missed when she retired from the MJ. She had a "Lorain heart" and she wore it on her sleeve. The likes of Lou Kepler and Jim Mahoney were always "available" to the readers and showed an interest in Lorain. They and through them the Journal had ownership in this community .

Darlene especially had more than a passing interest- her great uncle Milton Poet, a former slave who came to prominence in this settlement of Lorain.

I have to wonder what Darlene would write about the "Complex Complex" ( as I have named it ) considering she would have had a vested interest

"Mr. Poet also owned the farmland upon which stands now the “old” Lorain High School until 1870 when a site at 602 Washington Avenue was purchased for $2000 and a four-room, two-story brick building was completed by Contractor Stanley Griffin at a cost of $15,000. This structure was part of what was known, until 1995, as Lorain High School …The History of Lorain High School"

http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2008/06/29/fare-thee-well-darlene/

Will the Editorial staff have any opinions forthcoming as to where the "complex complex" aka the Health and Education campus should be built, or if it should be built as a campus or a school? Are you planning to do an indepth costing as part of any news articles in order to help those of us that are "surface dwellers with regard to the project? Thanks Loraine

March 10, 2010 at 12:53 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to comment positively about the creation of this blog. I think it is a very good idea to get more people involved and expanding the Morning Journal through a growing media. I look forward to reading what my fellow bloggers have to say about our city, government, economy and other various topics. I hope to see a younger generation getting involved and voicing their opinions. I hope that this can obtain a high standard of morals and intellect. Despite my most positive outlook, I fear that this blog may potentially be contaminated with uneducated, non-insightful, inflated rubbish. To see this happen would reflect poorly on people of Lorain. I hope to not be disappointed and I look forward to future posts.

March 10, 2010 at 1:24 PM 
Blogger Tom Skoch, Editor, The Morning Journal said...

"Will the Editorial staff have any opinions forthcoming ..."

Yes.

March 10, 2010 at 4:23 PM 
Blogger Tom Skoch, Editor, The Morning Journal said...

Anonymous wrote: "I fear that this blog may potentially be contaminated with uneducated, non-insightful, inflated rubbish. "

My Answer: No reason to fear. On my end of incoming comments to this blog, there are two buttons. One says "Publish" the other says "Reject" Those buttons operate the garbage disposal.

March 10, 2010 at 4:29 PM 

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