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170 Comments by Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor

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Sag Harbor resident experiences trip of a lifetime

Just FYI to readers, this story will appear this week in the Eastern Edition of The Southampton Press's Labor Day issue. " Aug 25, 08 10:41 AM

Last sermon for Incarnation Lutheran Church's Pastor Vita

I thank Pastor Vita for clarifying her remarks, and I'm sorry that she felt the story did not reflect the situation of her departure. We've corrected the reference to her new grandson--apologies. Otherwise, in defense of our reporter, I must point out that Pastor Vita did say in the interview that the small size of the congregation was definitely a factor in the bishop's decision; she did note in the story that "revitalization is a possible turn-around phase for a declining congregation."

Regardless, we wish Pastor Vita the best of luck, and there's no doubt the community will feel her absence." Sep 1, 08 2:56 PM

Group opposed to eruv urges petitions

Just to clarify: Mr. Greenbaum's quote above was indeed accurate, in that it quoted the first version of the article to appear online at 27east.com. As the print edition's deadline approached, our editors took a closer look at the paraphrase of Mr. Kringstein's remark--we did not have an exact quote to use--and we changed the wording slightly to eliminate the phrase "unwelcome people," which was, in fact, meant to characterize his sentiment, not present his words exactly. Ultimately, either characterization captures his sentiment in an inexact way, but neither is inaccurate, considering the context of the remark and other similar statements made at the meeting. (Witness the photograph of the PowerPoint presentation that was on the front page of the print edition of The Press Western Edition, which identifies the "mission" of the meeting as identifying the way to "protect our village from those who would cause harm.")" Oct 16, 08 6:07 PM

Former Town Supervisor Vincent Cannuscio dies

I didn't always agree with Vince Cannuscio, but I counted him as a friend, and I always found him to be a gentleman. He handled his final months with great courage and remarkable composure. His love of family, friends and community was clearly on display--at a time when many of us would be angry, he focused on talking about the things that were important to him. I'm honored to have been able to give him a platform to do that in his recent Viewpoint, and to have had the chance to tell him my sincere feelings about him before it was too late. RIP, Vince. " Dec 8, 08 3:56 PM

Construction worker killed in job site accident in Southampton Village

In response to SHLocal:

Following your posting, I spoke with Brendan O'Reilly, the reporter/photographer at the scene, and confirmed with him that he followed every order he was given by emergency personnel at the scene and absolutely did NOT interfere with any rescue efforts. I would expect nothing else from my reporters.

That said, with respect, I'd like to point out that working journalists have every right to be at the scene to document news as it happens. Courts have regularly agreed. Without question, the rescue operation takes precedent--no responsible journalist would EVER hamper a rescue effort--and the emergency personnel have control of the scene. Although they have access to the scene of a news event, journalists are trained to stay out of the way, but at the same time to capture the drama of the scene as best as they can. I believe Brendan did that in this case.

There is often friction at the scene, due in part to the important and tense work the emergency workers are doing, and also due to a few misconceptions and some confusion about the work we do. Our photographers take a variety of photographs, including, inevitably, some that are simply too graphic to be published. We simply can't handcuff our photographers at the scene--they must be able to document the event, and decisions about appropriateness are made later. We take those decisions very seriously, and I believe we make the right calls almost every time.

I'm going to tackle the subject in more detail in a "Press Box" this week in the newspaper, and we're hoping to meet with the chiefs to further discuss the matter. We certainly don't want there to be any bad blood between us and the remarkable men and women who respond in times of crisis." Jan 12, 09 12:42 PM

290 and SHLocal--

Understood. Respectfully, I'd say we're there to do a job, just as you are. One reason it's so important to be close is to capture the drama of the scene--in part to let people know the amazing work emergency workers do, as those photos from the scene very effectively portray, I think. But we shouldn't be in the way, no question. As I said, I think it's time for some conversations between the newspaper and the fire, police and ambulance companies to work out some of these issues. We look forward to doing that. " Jan 13, 09 12:11 PM

East Hampton Town audit confirms $10 million deficit for 2007

Criticism accepted.

Just to be clear, though, our former editor, Peter Boody, was most certainly not "canned." Pete retired, with our gratitude.

This space is open season for criticizing the newspaper and the job we do, but let's please not allow it to deteriorate into unwarranted personal attacks." Mar 19, 09 3:37 PM

Former Suffolk legislator and four others arraigned in mortgage fraud scheme

To EQme: Yes, your original post was removed as inappropriate. This one is marginal, but phrased a bit differently, so we'll leave it.
" Mar 26, 09 1:28 PM

Code enforcement shuts down soup kitchen at Southampton Tire

To "Crankypants":

Full disclosure: Our newspaper contacted Ms. Whitby for the story, not the other way around. And to be clear, she was very reticent to talk about the charitable effort and was emphatic that she did not, in any way, want to draw attention to it. Nor did she seek any praise for it. We did the story simply because it was becoming a topic of discussion in the community." Apr 1, 09 8:42 PM

Bridgehampton teenager killed in Saturday crash

Our condolences to the family and friends of Pablo Saldivar, and to the entire Bridgehampton community.

Those who knew the teenager are welcome to post messages here sharing memories. We'd also like to talk to friends who knew him, and to share photographs of him taken by those who knew him...contact us at (631) 287-1500 or mailbag@pressnewsgroup.com if you have something to share." Apr 12, 09 6:00 PM

Political advertisement causes a stir in Westhampton Beach

In response to Publius above:

I'm not sure what you're referring to. This is the advertisement that appeared on Page A9 of the June 4 edition of The Southampton Press Western Edition. In fact, the article above results from the publication of that advertisement.

The Press did, in fact, refuse to accept an advertisement, ostensibly from the First Hampton Party, for the current (June 18) edition--but only because the party placing the ad refused to provide the names of any of its officers. After the confusion over the June 4 ad, the paper wanted to make sure any ads placed by political parties were authentic. " Jun 16, 09 9:34 AM

Publius--

I made that decision, based solely on the notion that it was a reasonable request about a newsworthy issue. To be honest, upon reflection, I'm not sure it was the right decision. I can assure you, it was not politically motivated.

In the future, though, I'm going to defer those kinds of decisions to the advertising department and to the publisher, just so there's no question about the motive for either releasing or withholding something like that.

I like the comments section as well--it's a great way to foster a healthy give-and-take on the issues beyond the Letters to the Editor. We're hoping to keep the comment boards lively without wandering off topic or allowing them to turn into places for personal attacks. We're still working on ways to walk that line. But it's a great problem to have--I'm really happy that so many people visit the boards to share their views. We'll have more opportunity for such exchanges in the future...stay tuned." Jun 16, 09 10:56 AM

Four candidates are seeking two open seats in Westhampton Beach election

EastEnd68:
Endorsements will be in this week's print edition of The Press. All editorials, columns, letters and other op-ed items are in the print edition only. " Jun 16, 09 2:22 PM

State seizes La Hacienda restaurant for delinquent taxes

@ easthampsta:

Thanks for the comment--you're absolutely right, and we've just posted an update to the story letting people know it's back open. " Jul 27, 09 3:40 PM

Kabot won't appeal to Board of Elections

Hi, folks.

Just to answer a few questions we've gotten:

No, we're not allowing comments on the story about Ms. Kabot's arrest on a DWI charge. Our policy is generally not to allow comments on stories involving criminal charges--a few have slipped through the cracks in the past, but when we realized it we pulled the commenting off those stories. I think it's only fair to maintain the policy for the town supervisor.

We're monitoring comments here as well...if they cross the line, we're taking them down. Please try to keep the comments reasonable. " Sep 8, 09 3:42 PM

Hi folks. I'm here to throw myself on the mercy of the court of public opinion.

I will acknowledge fully that we're still struggling with how to manage commenting on certain stories. And I'm willing to say that our policies, as a result, can be a little inconsistent from time to time.

I think the criticism we're getting for not allowing comments on our lead story this week is fair. To be clear, I decided not to accept comments on that story, because it involves a pending criminal case. But in other situations, as noted, we have allowed comments on some stories. I understand that people will see political motive in that, even though there was none--everyone is entitled to an opinion on that count. All I can say, it's related more to the difficulties inherent in allowing comments in the first place.

I think it's a great feature of 27east.com, and obviously so do a lot of people, since there are so many terrific and loyal commenters. It adds a level of interaction we've never had before--witness this note, which allows me to speak directly to you. But it's also worrisome.

We've had situations where criminal charges were filed against someone, and the comments tend toward the "he's guilty" or "fry him" variety. We get ugly sentiments about race and ethnicity. We get more information than we want--in one instance, a pre-teen who was arrested for public intoxication was outed, by name, in a comment online. That's just completely inappropriate.

Federal law says that we, as a newspaper, have no responsibility for things posted on the website by a third party--we cannot be sued for libel, for instance, simply for offering space to allow comments. But from the start we wanted 27east.com to accept some responsibility, and to try to foster a responsible discussion of the issues, and not allow it to deteriorate into the worst kind of ugliness that reigns on some sites. That's why we occasionally take down comments, or limit commenting, etc. It's an imperfect science.

We're having internal discussions right now about this issue. You've all made great points, and we're hearing them.

In the paper to be published tonight/tomorrow, you'll find an updated story on Town Supervisor Linda Kabot's arrest for DWI, which includes some info that doesn't appear online right now. Pick up a copy of the paper, or wait till the updated story is posted online Thursday morning, after the print edition is distributed. At the moment, we're tenatively going to allow comment on the story at that time, because the subject is a public figure, and it seems only fair to allow constituents to react.

But at the same time, we will reserve the right to delete comments that we deem inappropriate. Those are comments that unfairly convict someone who is only accused of a crime, crude comments, etc.

Bear with us--we appreciate the organic nature of online commenting and are trying to find a happy medium." Sep 9, 09 2:01 PM

Supervisor Kabot will fight DWI charge, stay in race

This story is now updated and, based on the input of commenters and our past practices, we're going to allow comments on this story, since Ms. Kabot is a public figure.

Please refrain from making inappropriate comments, including comments that focus on details of the criminal case, which is still pending. " Sep 10, 09 10:19 AM

Kabot won't appeal to Board of Elections

The updated story on Ms. Kabot's DWI is now posted, and based on the input from commenters, we are allowing comments on that story, since Ms. Kabot is a public figure.

We will continue to take down comments that are inappropriate..." Sep 10, 09 10:20 AM

Waiting game continues for McGintee

Just FYI: The updated story on Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot's DWI is now posted, and based on the input from commenters, we are allowing comments on that story, since Ms. Kabot is a public figure.

We will continue to take down comments that are inappropriate..." Sep 10, 09 10:21 AM

Supervisor Kabot will fight DWI charge, stay in race

@EastEnd68 and Mr. Hamptons:

As the story says, a second person was cited for disorderly conduct at the scene, but it was not Ms. Kabot's husband, Lance. We don't routinely publish the names of people cited for violation-level offenses, because they're so minor, but I can tell you it was not Lance Kabot. Ms. Kabot said she was alone in the vehicle at the time of the stop, and that has not been challenged by police.

Hope that helps clear it up." Sep 10, 09 3:20 PM

@Johnny Nova:

I appreciate the criticism, but all I can say is that we're trying very hard to maintain a level of decorum on the site and within the commenting. I know some sites are the "Wild West" and allow anyone to say anything they want, anonymously. We've decided to maintain the anonymous nature of internet commenting, but we really do want to keep the comments on the subject, and within bounds.

I wrote a long comment elsewhere on the site about the problems we're having with developing a sane and workable policy. I admit that. You're entitled to your opinion about our motivation, but I can assure you it's a sincere effort to keep 27east lively and informative--while keeping the comments from turning personal and ugly.

For the record, our policy has been not to allow commenting on criminal cases. The reason, when we're dealing with police items, is that the comments tend toward inappropriate assumptions of guilt when a case is still pending, or providing information about a criminal case that we have no way of verifying.

When it comes to criminal charges involving public figures, we're trying to find a happy medium--and we think this might be it. The comments above are lively, but I don't think we've taken down a single comment so far for being inappropriate in this particular string. At least not yet.

All I can say: We're listening to the criticism and trying to find a solution that works. Thanks for being a part of this little "experiment"!

" Sep 10, 09 3:27 PM

@ AlwaysLocal:

I have tried to be as open and honest about our struggle with commenting policies, and the fact that input from commenters was certainly an element in reconsidering them, in other posts. (I think if you click on the 'total comments" link below, you can read them all.) You certainly can interpret the matter as you choose; all I can say is that it's a struggle to find a responsible policy.

For the record: When we post a police item (a normal DWI charge that appears on the police page, for instance), we automatically do not allow comments. The reason: We have found that comments posted on such stories are almost always inappropriate: assumptions of guilt, personal attacks, attempts to add information that we have no way of verifying.

But there's no question that we have waived that policy in certain instances, including the ones you mentioned above. In retrospect, I think we probably should have allowed commenting from the start on this particular story, and I hope that by doing it now we're addressing the matter. Also, I have to say, I very much appreciate the commenters making an effort to stay on point and avoiding posts that are inappropriate (we will still remove posts that we feel cross the line into personal attacks, or for all the other reasons outlined in the policy every commenter agrees to).

I've written about this whole issue--anonymous commenting at a website, for better and worse--many times, and I'll keep writing about it, because I think the subject is fascinating. I appreciate the ongoing discussion of the subject here, and I'm hoping that in the coming weeks, when I launch a blog on this site, we can have further discussions about it there, too." Sep 11, 09 11:10 AM

Zwirn gets AFL-CIO endorsement

@ Board Watcher:

Your observation above is valid, but I'm going to ask you politely to stop personally attacking my reporter in your comments. It's not the first time, and it's inappropriate.

You can feel free to criticize the paper and its coverage all you want, and ask valid questions about stories, but our policy doesn't allow personal attacks on anyone, including reporters, in comments, and I'm not going to continue to allow it. " Sep 11, 09 12:21 PM

P.S. The story does state that the CSEA has not officially endorsed any candidates." Sep 11, 09 1:45 PM

Supervisor Kabot will fight DWI charge, stay in race

@ AlwaysLocal:

Ummm...no offense, but I've posted nearly a half dozen comments letting you in on our decision making in this case as best as I can. I'm trying to offer as much transparency as this forum allows. As I said, click the "total comments" number below to read them all. To sum up: I think we were too cautious in originally not allowing comments on this story--criticism accepted. You can see political motivation if you choose...all I can say is that it has more to do with the difficulties of keeping the comments section civil and avoiding comments that are inappropriate. But, as this thread shows, our fears were unfounded--I don't believe a single post has been taken down. It will make the next similar decision a little easier. That's all I can say." Sep 11, 09 2:09 PM

Oops--guess a couple of comments did get taken down. My bad. Wasn't aware. Still, the overwhelming number have been fine." Sep 11, 09 2:14 PM

@AlwaysLocal:

I checked with our tech folks--they have no record of your posts being removed. If you're having technical problems, you can contact our tech folks. Regardless, your comment is posted above.

I honestly think I have covered all that ground in numerous posts. We seem to be beating a dead horse. To recap: We felt that, because we limit commenting on police stories for the reasons I mentioned, that policy should be extended to this instance. We have, in the past, allowed comment on stories that we felt should be open to comment because they were matters of public interest. In retrospect, our decision in this instance was a bad one, and we tried to rectify it as quickly as possible. I think we learned a lesson we'll apply going forward.

It seems to me the lengthy exchange in this thread shows a healthy exchange of opinions on the subject, and a mostly responsible one.

Hey, we make mistakes. You can beat us up for that if you want. We're trying to listen to the commenters and respond accordingly--that's what happened in this instance. We sincerely appreciate the feedback. " Sep 11, 09 3:47 PM

@highhatsize:

I accept your input. I see the point about insulating police departments--not the purpose, but I suppose it is an unintended consequence.

As I said earlier, with police items in the past, the comments have tended toward one of just a few types: things like "fry him" and "clearly guilty"--inappropriate, especially when the facts of a case are often in dispute; observations about the specific case that are based on opinions rather than facts; and information we don't want to publish (the names of juveniles, for example) or cannot verify. That's why we limit comment on those stories.

We have, at certain points, opened some stories up for comment when we felt there was a public interest in the story, or it involved a public figure. That's going to be the way we handle it going forward--and we'll simply have to monitor the comments to make sure they're appropriate, and remove the ones that aren't.

For now, we're going to leave the policy in place for routine police items, just because it would be come overwhelming to have to monitor the comments on all those stories as well. " Sep 11, 09 3:55 PM

No worries, folks--this is interesting and worth the time and energy.

" Sep 11, 09 4:31 PM

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