The last line of Editor Mark Lorando's first column on how The Times-Picayune works was this: "The floor is yours."
His readers took it.
Here's a sample of the detailed, thoughtful comments readers made: This headline, published today: "Battles over abortion heat up as House Republicans pass ban" reads as if the House Republicans passed a ban on abortion, when the article's content instructs that the House Republicans banned federal funding for abortion. The word "ban" in the headline would seem to refer to the word abortion, but, after reading the article, that is not the case.
Perhaps I would find this less disturbing were this in print, given the finite size of a newspaper, but, this was online, and it appears geared only to draw clicks to the article. And, this was a T-P reporter, not Reuters, the WaPo, the NYT, or the AP.
That first column on Jan. 25, 2017, drew 277 comments, some of them from staffers who jumped in to join Lorando's conversation with readers. In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, it was clear that New Orleanians held their hometown newspaper accountable regardless of platform.
"It created the need for a different level of transparency about our journalism," said Lorando, vice-president of content for NOLA Media Group, the Advance Local property that operates The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com. "It felt like the only way to combat a lot of the rancor we were experiencing was to talk it through. I think local news organizations have not been particularly good at this historically."MORE
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It began with a phone tip to The Galveston County Daily News.
"Early on Friday morning we got a call from a person who we know as a source and who trusts us that there were going to be gunshot casualties coming to an area hospital and that they were coming from the high school in Santa Fe," said Editor Michael Smith.
"This is somebody that we know absolutely to be a credible source and was in a position to know. We started mobilizing the staff from there, sending people to the emergency room and to the school. We were there shortly after the first responders."
Since then, the local paper with a staff of five news reporters, three photographers and an IT person who used to be a photographer has been covering the mass shooting alongside the Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times, among other large news organizations. "It's been all Santa Fe, all the time for the last few days," Smith said.More
Two weeks after 17 people died in the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., Julie Anderson joined the South Florida Sun Sentinel as editor-in-chief. In her first conversation with her managing editor, Anderson asked how the staff was doing.
"Really be mindful that your reporters and your editors are going to be traumatized," Anderson said. "Maybe not all of them, but they're first responders, too."
She offers the following tips to other newspapers that have to deal with school shootings and other mass casualty events:More