Engaging readers in New Orleans 1/23/18

By Jane Nicholes, SNPA Correspondent

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."

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Engaging readers in New Orleans 1/23/18

By Jane Nicholes, SNPA Correspondent

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.

MORE