Blogs > Tell the Editor

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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Fact Check Box -- a new accuracy feature at

Take a look at the new Fact Check Box on our website, It says "See wrong or incorrect information in a story? Tell us here." That message is followed by a box to type in and a button to send our editors your information.

This is another step in collaborating and crowdsourcing with our readers to improve The Morning Journal's news coverage.

Why restrict efforts to "get it right" to only the newsroom staffers when each day a thousand times more people in all walks of life buy The Morning Journal and then even more people read it? We are news professionals who take great pains to provide readers the best possible coverage. Still, that does not mean we think we know everything, or know anything better than anyone else.

Reporters gather facts and write stories which are then carefully edited. But it's all a human process. Maybe a source got the facts wrong, or misspoke, or a reporter misunderstood, or an editing mistake introduced an error. Mistakes happen, but they are not OK. We want to avoid them, or fix them ASAP.

If you see something in a news story that you think is wrong, or the facts are misinterpreted, or out of context, or incomplete, you can use the Fact Check Box to notify our editors. Please specify what you believe to be the correct information. We will check into it and, if necessary, correct the story online and run a print correction. (Of course, you can also call us at 440-245-6901, as always.)

The Fact Check Box idea was born this week at our sister paper, The Register Citizen, in Torrington, Conn., and CEO John Paton encouraged all the other Journal Register Company papers to adopt it. It fits right in with our new model of open source newsgathering in JRC's Ben Franklin Project. We're tapping into the knowledge and expertise of our readers to provide the most accurate and complete news reports possible.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Readers invited to become part of creating The Morning Journal

For a few hundred years now, American newspaper editors have been deciding what the news is and presenting it to readers in print, and more recently also online.

That's a one-way process, with the editor making the decisions and the readers catching whatever the editor throws their way. Aside from writing letters to the editor, readers are passive consumers, rather than active participants in deciding what the news is, what stories they will see and what questions will be asked to create those stories.

Not anymore. That whole model is changing at The Morning Journal and our parent firm, Journal Register Company and its 17 other daily newspapers and many weekly papers.

Now, we want you to tell us what stories you would like to see covered that are not already being covered. What questions do you want the answers to? What problems need uncovering? What solutions to community problems are being overlooked?

On July 4, 2010 -- the 234th anniversary of American independence -- The Morning Journal and other JRC daily newspapers will declare their independence from the traditional newspaper business. We will publish in print and online, providing news stories that have been suggested and developed with the involvement of readers. These papers and websites will be made using only free tools available on the Internet rather than the proprietary software and systems typically used in this industry to make a newspaper and its website.

It's all part of the second wave of the Ben Franklin Project initiated by John Paton, the new CEO of JRC, who is transforming the traditional newspaper company into a media company that uses the web and digital technology to bring readers from the outside to the inside of the news gathering process. The first JRC Ben Franklin papers were successfully published last week in Lake County, Ohio, and Perkasie, Pa.

By expanding the Ben Franklin Project, readers' needs and wants will be better-served. The newspapers themselves will show how to become independent of older technologies whose expense and limitations can be barriers. JRC newspapers will become more involved in their communities by making readers a part of the process of creating the paper and website.

It all comes down to this: I want to know what stories you would like to see covered that we are not already writing, or not writing fully. Who should we be talking to, and what should we be asking to get the whole story?  Under the traditional system, we've written stories and then days later heard from readers who have provided new tips, facts or insights that, when we followed up, made the story more complete, and put it more clearly in context.

So, now, instead of waiting to hear from readers after the fact, we're asking them to become part of the process from the beginning by suggesting story ideas, questions to ask and sources of information to make the story complete.

I'll have more to share as our Ben Franklin publication deadline nears. Please join us in this historic effort. We are literally reinventing the newspaper business to best serve 21st century readers, and we need your help to get the job done.

Share your ideas and suggestions by clicking on the comment link below. Or, send me an e-mail at .

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Standing by Chief Rivera and Lorain's police

Attached to an earlier posting at today I found a couple of comments pertaining to how well, or not, Lorain Police Chief Cel Rivera is doing in his job. The poster made a comment critical of the chief and then took about two minutes to decide wrongly how the first post would be treated here. Below are the two posts from earlier today, followed by my answer:
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel bad for the police officers in Lorain. Cel Rivera is so busy straightening deck chairs that he doesn't see the sinking ship. And why is it that everytime Lorain gets into a financial mess (which is often) the first things that they want to cut are police and fire services? Maybe Rivera could use only one secretary instead of 3three, not to mention the Lieutanant he took off the street to be one of his personal assistants.
May 20, 2010 12:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I see the notice "Your comment will be visible after approval." Well, I guess that my comment won't be posted. This whole town knows what good friends the Chief and the Editor are. Heaven forbid the Morning Journal print anything real about Cel Rivera.
May 20, 2010 12:26 PM 

For the record, I think Rivera is a good chief running a good department under extremely difficult circumstances. Nobody is perfect all the time, but given the financial pinch, manpower shortage, civil service system and union issues all severely complicating how a chief can handle his department, I think Rivera is doing a good job overall. A number of bad apples finally have been rooted out of the department in the past couple of years. Not all officers are right in all situations, either, but overall the majority do a good, conscientious job.

The poster made a timely comment because this is the day that the chief and others were meeting with officials from the Department of Justice which is looking at the police operation following complaints from some members of City Council and the public. It will be interesting to see what the DOJ eventually concludes following its exhaustive look at Rivera and his department.

My bet is, they'll have some helpful suggestions for tightening up training and procedures, but no knockout blows against Rivera or his officers, despite the chronic claims from detractors.

What do you think?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Citizen journalism goes live in Lorain

The Morning Journal's new Community Media Lab is up and running as of today, and you can see the results online at

 More local bloggers will soon be joining Community Media Lab pioneers Chad Earl, Kevin Salisbury and Jim Brooks, so be sure to watch for them.

If you would like to participate in the Community Media Lab and become a local blogger, contact me at, and we can get you started. Reporters and editors at The Morning Journal will provide orientation and advice, outline the journalistic standards expected, and help set up your blog online.

You just need to bring your willingness to write at least a few times a week about your chosen topic. Writing short and writing often is the rule of thumb for blogging.

Blogs can be about most anything -- local government, events in your neighborhood, doings in your club or organization or school or church, even information about hobbies and recreation. Whatever interests you, and whatever you think will interest and inform other readers is potential blog material.

By working in collaboration with citizen journalists in the Community Media Lab, The Morning Journal is acting on its plans to "bring the outside in" in local news reporting. We want to work in conjunction with readers to write about the topics readers want to see, and to provide the most complete and comprehensive look at each subject by tapping into the community's knowledge.

I hope you enjoy the writers in our Community Media Lab, and consider joining them in blogging with The Morning Journal.

-- Tom Skoch

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Community Media Lab gearing up fast

Meet the first bloggers in The Morning Journal’s Community Media Lab.  They’re already posting to their blogs and the special Media Lab page will soon be up on this website where you can find them, and more citizen journalists as we move forward.
Right now, you can check out the three Lorain bloggers, starting from this page.
Chad Earl, a community organizer, calls his blog WOW: Words of Wisdom.
Downtown businessman Kevin Salisbury writes the Broadway Connection blog.
And Jim Brooks, who works in nursing, talks about the world in his Outside the Lines blog.

Check them out, and if you are interested in doing a blog, e-mail me at
Tell me what topic you would like to blog about, and provide the name and short description for your blog. And if you’re really ambitious, submit a sample blog post.
The Morning Journal’s Community Media Lab will help you set up your blog, give you guidance on writing and reporting and provide a spot on our website where your blog can be found easily. The rest is up to you; it’s your blog.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Take a sneak peek

Take a sneak peek at the first two local citizen journalist bloggers to go online via The Morning Journal's Community Media Lab project. There's Chad Earl's WOW: Words of Wisdom blog and Kevin Salisbury's Broadway Connection blog.

In a few days, you'll see links to their blogs anchored in a special new section on, and they soon will be followed by more Community Media Lab local bloggers.

If you are interested in becoming a community blogger, send me an e-mail at

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A peek into the new news ecology

Check out Morning Journal & citizen journalism on human trafficking here & here #JRC

More of this kind of collaborative newsgathering to come in the days and months ahead.