Setting the record straight ... on reporters posting in forums

AP reports that a Pennsylvania newspaper has fired a reporter for posting anonymously to forums on the newspaper's website.

According to the story, the reporter, Justin Quinn, began posting to "set the record straight" and eventually started adding his own opinions.

Quinn should have known better. But so should his editor, Ray Shaw.

As I've said many times before, we have to stop pretending that we're above the community conversation and start getting involved. The newspaper apparently has a policy against reporters expressing their personal opinions about areas they cover -- and that's fine. But is there a positive policy on community engagement?

Journalism today is a conversation, not a lecture. The newspaper's reporters should be posting on the forums ... but under their real names, not pseudonyms. And they should be getting positive coaching from their editor about how constructively engage with the community.

This isn't just about correcting rumors and misunderstandings, although that's part of it.

Ultimately it's about doing better work. It's about listening as well as speaking. It's about being in better contact with the community, hearing a broader selection of viewpoints, understanding what real people are thinking and what they think is important.

I hope the Lancaster paper sees this as an opportunity to move forward, not backward.



I totally agree with you! For at least 10 years or more, we have been moving toward more interaction through the internet. To tell reporters that they aren't allowed to interact at all is like telling them to ignore a fire outside their offices. I would suggest, however, that newspapers begin consulting more with bloggers as to how to go about this, as well as journo schools begin to implement at least *one* unit on interaction and transparency.

I feel sorry for Quinn, esp. after Michael Hiltzik, while demoted for his mischief (which was far more egregious), still retains a position on the L.A.Times

Just "to set the record straight," Lancaster Newspapers doesn't have a policy against posting on it's public forum. They may now, but they didn't when I was fired.