Cornwall ON – It’s been a weird and wacky week dear viewers of The Cornwall Free News, and I have an odd conundrum that I thought I’d share with you and ask your opinions?
It’s not easy being a small independent online newspaper. A lot of chores and never enough resources which is why it was very alarming when one of our largest sponsors dropped a bomb on me this week explaining that they had a lot of concerns about Online Posters and comments. That would be you guys. In particular the ones that don’t sign a name.
Now this is a very slippery slope and impacts most media sites. We’ve had over 12,000 comments on CFN since 2009, and I think we have a good handle compared to some other media companies.
Generally people can only post negative comments if they sign their names to them, but while investigating this whole process it was presented to me that essentially even a person signing their name isn’t 100% conclusive. At best all that could be proven, even if that, is where the message originated from and the machine it originated from. Unless someone is sitting in a lighthouse in the middle of the ocean they could say that it wasn’t them using their computer. Now this is a rare issue. We’ve only made errors on a handful of comments out of those 12,000, but sponsors have concerns; image, message, positive results so we take this very seriously.
And therein lies the challenge for us. As some of you know we’re a lot more than a “local newspaper” not that that’s a bad thing. I love that we are the largest window to the world for Cornwall Ontario. It’s a buzz! But deep down we’re really a National magazine; one that’s slowly evolving. Like they kept saying in the Facebook movie “We’re not sure what we are yet”.
Revenue is crucial to any business, but as we apparently can’t get any government grants even though we qualify for a bunch (our MP forbids us to enter his office, never mind assist us) are only now in the process of getting our first National sponsors, and as we don’t ask you our amazing viewers for contributions other than supporting our sponsors when you can, we have to depend on our sponsors to survive. We can’t grow unless we get them results and grow our sponsor pool. We need to hire more staff and invest in bringing you more features and expanding.
Now I can’t capitulate to that pressure. Yes, today that would be a big chop from our bottom line, but I can’t sell my soul that cheaply, and if you give into those kind of pressures and bullying early then the line will never be drawn.
That though is a whole other story. (The sponsor in question has asked that they not be outed at this point in time even though I feel it’s a juicy National story)
Today I want to know what you think about people commenting on websites. Should people be forced to register and sign their names to each post? Why shouldn’t they if you don’t think they should. I know who many of those who use pseudonyms are. A few others I have cracked the whip on like our old chum Smee who doesn’t get to post some of his nonsense until he signs his name, right Mike?
Our comments and posters are a huge and vibrant part of CFN. You guys and gals have very strong opinions generally. Would you stop posting if we made you register and sign your names to each post?
Is this simply “Big Brother” in a sense or is it simply common sense? There are some interesting opinions on both sides of the argument.
Speaking of which here is a clip in tribute to some of our special posters 🙂