Wednesday, July 11, 2007

CincyMommy Dearest

A few of the CincyMoms crowd have discovered my blog posting from May, and they are flaming me relentlessly, calling me a bad parent, sexually repressed, and many other terrible, hurtful and highly amusing things. The Pure Romance woman even offered to sell me "Superstretch Lips", to make me a better person. If their assessment of me is as accurate as the "advice" they trade on CincyMoms, then I'd go elsewhere for advice.

Make sure you read this thread at the CincyMoms site. Michael Perry, who oversees the web site, offers an explanation of how the site uses paid "discussion leaders" to boost discussion traffic. He does not, however, identify those discussion leaders, and there's still no mention of this practice on the site's FAQ, so, in my view, CincyMoms is still not conducting itself ethically in this matter.

I'll have more to say later, or maybe not. For now, read and enjoy.

UPDATE: Karen Guitierrez, in a lengthy post on page 6 of the discussion thread mentioned above, answers many questions about the moderator issue. CincyMoms no longer uses paid moderators, she says, and she provides the names of all the previous moderators. She also promises to add this information to the site's FAQ. It's troubling, though, that she blows off this whole dustup like this: "I´m sure I have made some mistakes along the way, and I´ll probably make more." This should have been taken care of months ago. Journalists should think early and often about what's ethical, and that doesn't seem to be on the radar at CincyMoms.

23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm.... assumptions are being made... Newsache revels little about him/herself, including gender.

It doesn't seem that any of the "cincymom"-types have taken time to read further into Newache's blog either since the cincymom topic on the Newsache blog is a mere blip in the scope of it's content.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite being annoying, they ARE amusing aren't they?

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if one of the discussion starter/moderators started it on that site. Since they are not identified, we can't tell if it was one of the Enquirer's own.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question about this issue has been posted to cincymoms. That text is posted below. Anyone think there'll be an answer on how lack of disclosure was rectified?

Text of the message:

Laura - thank you for being forthcoming about what you do as well as the description of your job.

MaryLynne - you offer a very balanced point of view. Your observations are reasonable, accurate and fair.

"teamcincymoms" aka Michael Perry - Exactly what did the Enquirer do to rectify the lack of disclosure?

An observation: Cincinnati Newaache is an observation about what journalism is, what journalism was, what journalism should be and what it is going to be. Newsache isn't static, old or decrepit (yet).

All - if journalism isn't questioned, we take what is given about all things. Journalism should the watchdog when we don't watch. Newsache is questioning what the Enquirer is "journalistically". History has it that Gannett (mother company of the Enquirer) will not allow another to market. It is taking the bark and teeth out of the dog.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New message posted. If there is an answer, it remains to be seen:

teamcincymoms aka Michael Perry - If I remember correctly, Karen almost immediately posted to her blog about the Discussion Leaders and disclosed which screen names they were. I think by then there were only 8 or 9 left. Karen would know exactly. ... Nobody has been paid to post for a long time now.

Michael

In reply to
"teamcincymoms" aka Michael Perry -

Maybe the last question wasn't something that cincymoms would want to answer. I'll rephrase:

How many conversation starters/moderators are there now and what are their screen names?

Seems simple. Like a number of conversation strater/moderators and associated screen names.

Then think about the tone - Were these original "cincymoms" shown to the door??? No answer yet on whether they were layed off or reassigned.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we keep one om as a pet?

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

warning: be careful before you take on the bored housewife militia!!! they will devour you with pointless gossip.

hilarious...

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The all sound like a bunch of fat St. Bernard moms to me.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're still waiting to hear just who you are. Why not tell us? You seem to have a double standard, expecting the CincyMoms to tell you who they are, but keeping your true identity from them.

Are you an Enquirer employee? A former employee? A disgrunted ex-union rep? Someone who applied for a job and didn't get one?

There does seem to be quite a bit of sour grapes going on in your blog. What's the real reason? Hmmm?

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the one who alerted CincyMoms to your blog - sorry about that. I should have realized it would be responded to like that. On the other hand, I'm sure you can handle it and it livens things up, doesn't it?

I think what you are doing is very important. This issue was not on my radar - I haven't gotten a paper in years. But, as I posted on CM, we have a free press, not run or controlled by the state, but a lot of good it does us if the press won't do it's job. I think one of the most important roles in a democracy is the one who stands up and says the emperor has no clothes.

It floored me how many on the CM discussion weren't arguing your point, but just didn't care. "What differece does it make?" None, I guess, if you just are going to vote, shop and think as you are told.

Keep up the good work.
MaryLynne

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> How many conversation starters/moderators are there now and what are their screen names?

Why do you care? What difference does it make to how the site works?

9:13 AM  
Anonymous A Concerned Reader said...

Anon 9:13 a.m.,

It makes a big difference how the site works.

If you will take some time to learn about other topics besides clipping coupons and gossiping on CincyMoms, you will learn that there are professional standards to be followed in journalism.

The Enquirer holds itself up as a journalistic beacon, first and foremost. By doing so, it should comply with standards within its industry.

And if CincyMoms is so god damned popular, why is there a need for "discussion leaders?"

9:45 AM  
Blogger Newsache said...

MaryLynne: I am not upset that you pointed out my CincyMoms blog post. The give-and-take is good. If anything bothered me, it was that many of those who complained about the post didn't seem to have read it very well.

I don't care that CincyMoms used paid discussion leaders to boost traffic in discussions. What I do care about is that CincyMoms wasn't disclosing the practice properly. The Enquirer said it never made a secret of the hiring of those people, but if this practice is disclosed somewhere on the site, it's very hard to find.

My biggest complaint about CincyMoms was that the Enquirer was devoting valuable front page space to lame stories drawn from CincyMoms. As I think I said in my post, there are some very good, very real discussions on CincyMoms, but the Enquirer wasn't writing about those. I think the Enquirer prefers to write more about moms like June Cleaver than Roseanne, and by doing that they are ignoring some of the real life issues that "average" parents with "average" kids deal with.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still haven't told us who you are. Sour grapes, sour grapes...

People are always complaining that "the media" only writes about the "bad" news, yet you're complaining now about the Enquirier focusing on "good" news.

One man's lame article is another man's (woman's?) interest. Where is it written that the Enquirer should only put stuff on the front page that reflects your sense of what is good journalism?

And how about defining just what criteria you use to define "good journalism" anyway. What are your creds? Anyone with internet access can be a crank these days, why not put your money where your mouth is? Of what are you afraid?

Wondering...

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s about trust. And, in media companies – next to profits, that’s basically everything.

Failing to be fully transparent at the launch of Cincymoms, and now with their continued failure to make "discussion leaders" clearly recognizable only reinforces the concerns that people have with the credibility of media outlets. Other sites identify their “leaders” with every post they make. If Cincymoms can stand on it’s own, then add moderator to the posts of every leader and kill the concerns.

Failure to do so only serves in strengthening the agenda setting power that the Enquirer currently holds – and, the on-going distrust by those people who truly understand the issue shared by Newsache.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous phantom girl said...

Oh Christ. Doesn't anybody get it that CincyMoms is a window into how the Enquirer has modified its concept of watchdog journalism not purely on philosophical grounds but because it believes it can generate more revenue at a lower cost by going this route?

Yes, there is dilution of the mission. As a business decision, it makes sense to pursue new markets. But if the cost is abandoning the mantle and high bar of community responsibility in favor of fostering discussions of which sex toys are more satisfying then truly the gates of hell have been opened. And maybe they have.

All I know is this: the day public officials, corporates and weasels of every special-agenda color realize the newspaper will not hold them accountable for their actions will be a dangerous day. Some might argue that time is at hand.

But the Enquirer does have at its helm professionals, although certainly they are conflicted by the direction they have been asked to take. Yes, I know the editor and others have been hammered for what seems like corporate speak. What they say publicly and how they feel privately might be quite different.

The best to hope for is not that CincyMoms goes away -- it won't and maybe shouldn't. After all, if women want to share ideas about sex toys or anything else that's just fine.

But let's not forget the First Amenedment (and lots of others) for which the Enquirer holds a public trust, and that means in all of its incarnations and brand names.

Its braintrust mustn't be seduced by the concept that being a group therapy moderator is a viable replacement for keeping in check the forces that would take advantage of the loss of a watchdog to do their mischief, on the right and the left, and not with the public good in mind.

The best in the business have always changed with the times in a smart way. The key word is smart.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gannett’s launched more than 30 moms.com sites in the last seven months that will deliver a minimum of $3,000,000 in annualized revenues.

That’s enough of a “seduction” for them to continue expanding sites well beyond the moms.com into paws.com (ex. www.indypaws), dads.com (ex. www.rocmen.com) and anything else they can to replace declining newspaper revenues. And, let’s not forget that Gannett’s newspaper websites are being redesigned to become more and more entertainment driven to attract younger audiences – all done with basically the same news resources, or less.

Given all of this other work, it’s hard to believe that investigative journalism and real news delivery wouldn’t suffer as a result.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd start worrying -- a lot -- if the discussion leaders (outside paid or staff) begin steering participants to goods or services provided by advertisers, either on the site or in the newspaper.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I looked over Karen Gutierrez's blog on CincyMoms and I can't see where she's posted anything at all on this subject.

What I did find interesting, however, is the decline of her blog in general. When she started it in January, she was posting hot & heavy, several times per week. Nowadays, let's see... the last post was middle of June. And almost none of her blog posts get any comments.

That's just plain lame, and it gets a featured spotlight on the CincyMoms cover?

Meanwhile, the Enquirer's overnight production editors have been reduced from three full time employees to one. One left the company for a better job, and the other was - get this - transfered internally to run some new entertainment widget they're rolling out. Leaving the remaining editor high and dry and facing the usual "hiring freeze."

So now the "staff" charged with the responsibility of putting the next day's edition online is scrambling to just shovel it out there, instead of spending time to get it right and enhance it for the online medium.

And none of the dayside online editors have copies of Acrobat to edit and publish PDFs with, because the Enquirer won't pony up the money for that either.

This is a major metro daily??? One whose professed goal for online this year is to get traffic up to 50 million+ page views (from 30-something last year)?

Those stupefying "Fan Faces" photo galleries aren't going to git 'er done, Tom...

7:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One would think that someone who is so picky about various editorial foibles ought to be able to use his spell checker before posting, eh? It's transferred, not - transfered, silly.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, please. Spelling flames are so 1990s.

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey thanks for posting about the site!!!! now im hooked and go there daily =)

12:48 PM  
Anonymous theyrntmine said...

Newsache, thank you. Sorry to say that cincymom has posted more topics in the section your blog discussion started in than she has in a month. Maybe tired of seeing the post that was started about your blog?
I will not be a member of this site anymore. I am sure I will not be missed as I am what they call a "newbie" and I posted a reply about their TOS agreement. I find it hard to believe that "cincymom" did not know about the TOS agreement. If she researched before helping to start this site, would she not know the TOS? I also find it hard to believe nothing was said in her second reply about how the Enquirer can do anything they want with any of the discussions started by people on the board. OK, so they won't use your email address but what about selling, modifying and exploiting the discussions for their own financial gain?
I would have posted this in a topic on their message board but from what I can see, Cincymoms (Enquirer, Gannett) has accomplished one of their initiatives. "Moms" have become quite protective of "their" site. Or should I say the big media portal started by Gannett.
Yes, they can and will sell articles taken from Cincymom discussions. Check out the archived section of the Enquirer. If anyone wants too, they can buy articles taken from old cincymoms discussions. I guess it is easier to sit at a computer and search cincymoms for a "news" article, than to actually have to work and find real news.
Speaking of which, I now need to go to work since I am not the West Chester soccer mom type they wanted to attract in the beginning.

9:59 PM  

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