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Friday, January 25, 2008

Akron Beacon Journal's Blog Experiment: Who Says It Is Dead?

Updated 6:56 PM
AKRON (TDB) -- Top newsroom execs at the Akron Beacon Journal/ are huddling this afternoon about the status of The Point, a political blog the newspaper started Wednesday. The Point was put on hiatus Thursday after Summit County Republican Chair Alex Arshinkoff raised an issue of bias. There has been much speculation and commentary in the Ohiosphere today saying that The Point is likely blunted and may not come back.

[UPDATE: The Point will return Monday, the newspaper now confirms on its Web site. It explains there were legal concerns about corporate funds, political campaigns, and election laws that prohibit corporations from contributing to campaigns. The Beacon said that means limits on its two bloggers: "Their mission is to comment on politics important to Ohioans -- from their distinct partisan positions. However, if they are playing an active role in a campaign -- such as working for a candidate or running for office -- they cannot use our resources in an attempt to persuade voters, and they cannot be paid. Pay and commentary may resume once that active role in the campaign ceases."]

But Doug Oplinger, the ABJ's managing editor, told The Daily Bellwether that no decision has been made to kill off the new blog. The newspaper, instead, has paused while it tries to figure out how to meld blogging by political activists Kyle Kutchief and Ben Keeler with the traditional standards of a mainstream media outlet. Oplinger said the internal meeting would start around 3 p.m. He emphasized that anybody who contends the newspaper has abandoned or backed off its blogging project would be wrong.

"They are saying something that we're not saying. We have certain standards, and we're trying to figure out how to be comfortable."

Oplinger said he had to break off the telephone conversation to go to the meeting. But he stressed that The Point wasn't dead, and seemed a bit perplexed that anyone would think it was gone.


  1. Hi Bill

    my three cents....

    The newspapers are free to do as they choose, it is their paper. I do not believe as private companies they need to give anybody a right to free speech. You want free speech - start your own paper or blog!

    My disgust lies in the actions of Arshinkoff (ABJ) Latourrette (PD) - who the hell are they to use intimidation to squelch a persons free speech. The guys are to be fighting for our rights in the constitution not trying to trample them.

    I will apologize to all, conservative's, liberal's & I's about the juvenile acts of our party leaders.

    Please be aware the many conservatives do not agree with this. EG - I am upset that Kookcinich was forced to withdraw his remarks on the floor the other day. I do not agree with what the little nut job said, but he has every right to say it!

    BTW - Thanks for your support! You can be assured when I AM elected - stuff like this will either stop or be met with a well deserved public slap!

  2. Ralph --

    I love that you are a Free Speech absolutist.

    On blog/MSM marriages. I'm beginning to think that there ought to be a constitutional amendment banning them. The newspapers take themselves quite seriously (notice I said take themselves) and are constantly navel gazing. Bloggers like to communicate whatever it is they want to communicate about -- no lawyers, no layers of bureauracy, no charging the audience to see what is up.

    The newspapers tend to be stuffier, formal like an old downtown businessmen's club with leather chairs. Editors don't mind sitting down with power people and pretending they are insiders. Trust me, in my retired journo career I am around insiders and sit through things that I could only dream about when I was a reporter. Editors too often don't fade away or try new things when their journo days are over -- too many become college professors.

    Newsroom managers are not bad people, but they tend to be managers who could probably function equally as well in an insurance office or bank. They live in meetings, and indeed often avoid speaking to fellow workers and news consumers on the grounds that they have to attend a meeting. They are office dwellers. Decisions come by meeting. These meeting goers would be the last folks on Earth to characterize themselves as bureaucrats, corporate-crats, careerists and functionaries. But their mission is solely to try to protect businesses that others established and grew, and to move themselves a notch or two up the newsroom ladder. They tend not to be creators, and indeed many that I know would be terrified at the thought of going off on their own and starting and running a business or enterprise. I have had these conversations and that is the reaction I get.

    Journalism today is rampant (and this is not meant as a slap) with folks who are uncomfortable with change, uncomfortable with letting loose, uncomfortable with new toys and new ways of doing things. Nobody seems to remember or recall that that is how journalism caught the public's fancy. They like top down, not bottom up. The old ways are dying hard. But I would give the Beacon, and The Plain Dealer, some credit for trying. The real story here, I think, is that they are attempting to become more like us. But we are not trying to become more like them (and I am one of them).

  3. Wow, got dizzy from all that!!!

    Yes Bill - I will always speak out for anybody's right to free speech. i don't have to like, agree or promote what they say. i can call them an idiot, moron, korrectnik, etc.... but as I have the right to call them those names - they have the same right to voice their opinion.

    Other than voting - which free speech is a form of- I believe this to be on of the most basic building blocks that our country was founded and built on.

    Being the Wal-Mart loving capitlist pig that I am (LOL) I have never looked at the news papers any way other than they are a business that prints newspapers. For me that means that will do, write, and convey a meesage that best suits their needs and profits.

    Unfortunately - truth, pride, dignity, honesty and all that good stuff makes great movies about hard hitting reporters - just not great local print.

    Can I fault them.... Yes and no.

    Yes - because - you have to live with yourself. The reporter's name is on the articles - personally I would not be able to have my name attributed to an article if i did not fully believe in what I wrote.

    No - because these guys/gals reporting are putting food on the table for their families - got to play by the rules given by the people paying your check.

    I agree the PD & ABJ should get credit for trying - but did they really approach it honestly?

    Your comments make the light even brighter for me on this... i don't believe thy are "bad" guys, just maybe unwilling to look at things in a real world way.

    With all the knowledge, expertise, education, meetings, more meetings, lawyers, you have to wonder - what did they expect would happen with this venture?

    You almost want to ask if they have ever even read a blog. Us bloggers of opposing sides can really give it back and forth and are very opinionated in our postings.

    Personally I look at blogs and newspapers as two complete different vehicles used for gathering information.

    My anger is not with the ABJ or PD. My anger is with the jack-booted, goose-stepping Nazi like tactics used by a county leader in MY party to stifle a person's free speech.

  4. Bill, thanks for your coverage of the story. Ill let your readers know I was reading this post when I got the call from the Beacon.