Readers' Representative Journal

A conversation on newsroom ethics and standards

Category: Web

Pulitzer announcements fuel latimes.com traffic in April

A memo from Managing Editor/Online Jimmy Orr: 

It was another great month for latimes.com -– recording its second-highest-trafficked month in the history of the site, with 159 million page views. This is a 20% increase from our average in 2010 and falls short only of last month’s record.

Not surprisingly, the day the Pulitzer Prizes were announced was among the most trafficked days in April. Readers who came to The Times to learn more about the Pulitzer-winning work got a timeline tracking the Bell salary scandal, as well as full coverage. They also could view the great photos taken by feature photography winner Barbara Davidson and breaking-news photography finalist Carolyn Cole, as well as other award-winning work from throughout the year.

Unlike with the March numbers, with which we could point to the coverage of one news event as a driving force, April was a much more balanced effort with increases across the site.

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Comments about online comments

The Times frequently hears from readers regarding online comments -- those on articles on latimes.com or on Times blogs.

The dialogue between readers and the newspaper is still evolving, and the hope is that the conversation online will continue to improve. Recent changes to the commenting system are intended to help that along.

In late April, The Times adopted a system of unmoderated comments on latimes.com articles. As the memo announcing the change explained, comments are “scrubbed against a word filter, which will block an extensive list of vulgarities.”  The memo warned, however, that the system was not foolproof and that inappropriate language was bound to slip by the filter. Users were encouraged to police the system by flagging offensive comments with the “Report Abuse” button. Two reports of abuse will automatically remove a comment and flag it for review by an editor.

The new system is designed to provide a better forum for debate, said Martin Beck, reader engagement editor.  “By allowing real-time discussion, we are aiming to enable actual conversations about our journalism,” Beck said. “And if it gets out of hand, we are depending on our readers to help identify wrongdoers.”

Blogs were excluded from this system; all blog comments are still moderated by journalists in the newsroom.

Some readers are confused by the different systems. Others have technical issues with trying to post. Yet others want to report an inappropriate comment but can’t figure out how to.

Here are answers to some recent reader e-mails regarding comments:

You have a pretty abusive rant attached as a comment to the article regarding testimony on safety and malfunctions aboard the Deepwater Horizon. A line in your Comments section suggests reporting abusive comments, but a link to do so is not readily apparent.

To reach the screen with the “Report Abuse” button, you must first click “View Comments” in the gray Comments header that appears below each article. That brings up a full screen of comments, each of which has a “Report Abuse” button next to it.

This step is more evident on a post that has a lot of comments. The article page displays only the three most recent comments, so if the Comments header shows that there are actually 17, a reader is more  likely to click “View Comments” to see the rest of them.

However, if there are only one or two comments, it is less intuitive to click “View Comments,” because you’re already looking at them. Editors say they will make this step clearer in the Discussion FAQs.

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Can't comment on an article? It's not you, it's us [Updated]

Editors have discovered that the comment function for articles on latimes.com isn't working at the moment. In fact, the prompt to even submit a comment is missing. [Updated 3:25 p.m.: The comment function is working again.]

However, you still can make comments via the blogs.

So, for example, the election story at the top of latimes.com is missing its comment function, but you can leave your thoughts on the other election items: Primary voters head for the polls in L.A., Five down-ticket races to watch in California and 12 states holding elections today -- all three of which are posts on blogs. 

--Deirdre Edgar

This is the backup site for The Los Angeles Times. We'll post news and information if latimes.com becomes inoperable or inaccessible.

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this is a test breaking news post |  April 16, 2013, 1:45 pm »


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