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Greg

United States

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#1
Aug 31, 2007
 

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In case you've been hiding under a rock, Greenwood Today -- the city's newcomer news outlet -- and The Index-Journal -- a longtime and trusted news source in the Emerald City -- have been battling back and forth over who is the best.
Greenwood Today fired the first five or six shots at The Index, saying it was Greenwood's "factual" news source (ie., The Index is NOT factual, it was saying); printing stories saying traditional newspapers were out of step with the times and even coming up with a mascot named "Scoop" who practically dogged out The Index by saying he doesn't need to fetch newspapers anymore because online news is where the business is.
That's very typical. The new kid in the game always tries to make an impression, and that usually involves attacking the respected opponent. The whole idea is that you latch onto the respected name of your opponent so you are mentioned alongside that opponent in discussions. It's a cheap way to become relevant.
This would all matter if Greenwood Today were, in fact, a professionally run site with journalists and editors who have background in media ethics, media law, story presentation and quality control. But, in an age when anyone can post something and all it news, enter Greenwood Today.
Greenwood Today certainly had the right idea. The Index should have recognized this need for online news a long time ago. Now The Index is playing catch-up. But it won't take long for The Index to drive Greenwood Today out of bussiness. I've seen it before (Emerald City Beacon; Lakelands Leader). Competition arises, everyone (including advertisers) jump on the bandwagon for several months or a couple of years, but then people realize where the consistency and professionalism is and return to The Index.
First off, if you manage to make your way through all the errors and third-grade writing on the Greenwood Today site, you probably went blind from all the busy little mini-ads on its front page. Rather than focus on some major backers, Greenwood Today has chosen to plaster ads all over its page, making it impossible for any one advertiser to get a fair shake. Advertising is only important when its special, and being one of 20-30 small ads on a Web site (many of which fall well below the content and offer no reason to look at them) means you don't get noticed.
Greenwood Today has made so many changes that readers never seem to gain a familiarity with the site. Every day they test some new bell or whistle on the site, kind of like a kid in a toy store. If it wasn't for Bulletlink's prepared Web site design, there's no telling what the site would look like. But the GT folks simply have to focus on content and let the prepared Web design template do its own work. Yet, GT can't even do that right. My guess is that it's ego. The GT owner has been told and suggestions have been made that the site could use some professional journalists and editors. Yet, instead it seems GT is more interested in making money off its ads rather than putting the money back in the product to improve it.
GT folks say they aren't telling stories; they are providing facts. What kind of unbiased fact is "Greenwood Today congratulates Ware Shoals on a great victory." That's not what news writers do. They don't take sides. The mere fact you did this taints the value of what you reported.
Let's not forget that GT lets lawyers and officials supply their own stories -- facts unchecked and stringent questions not asked by a reporter -- to the site. It also calls press releases from the sheriff's office "facts" and presents them unedited or without further followup questions.
This is the whole reason people fought and died for freedom, which includes freedom of the press. People have worked so hard for Freedom of Information so government can't run amok, unchecked. The press is there for the average person to ask the tough questions and seek responsible and reasonable answers.
John

Ware Shoals, SC

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#2
Sep 3, 2007
 

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Greg, you seem to be able to write good stories, but they always seem to be one sided toward your buddies at the Index. Come on, tell the full truth about "GT". How about they allow all to post obituaries, announcements, and even have a spiritual section for people to post prayer request. All this is provided for FREE! Yes, they do post factual documents unedited. That's apparently what people want to see these days and that according to their popularity. GT does not take a press release article and then re-write it as to inject their own punches into it giving the reader sided news. This country news coverage is changing - even in Greenwood. So stop running around to different message boards and running your "one-sided, opinionated" mouth! Let the people in greenwood just choose to read what they want!
Greg

United States

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#3
Sep 5, 2007
 
They aren't injected opinion. They are taking information, compiling it in an intelligent way that makes it easy to read, and they are not just accepting "official-speak" at the word of the officials. They are asking the tough questions. If GT is where news is headed, why not cut out the middle man and start going back to letting the government directly publish its skewed news. That's essentially what GT does. Yes, I am sticking up for the I-J because I respect true journalism that incorporates fact-checking, media ethics and media law. GT is a fly-by-night operation. Trust me, I've seen this before. It exists solely for the purpose of selling as many tiny ads as it can to anyone -- ads that are so cluttered among the many others that they lose their true value. The Index-Journal's online site is free, too, and it's professional. For instance, GT found it more important to post a story and picture higher on its page about mascot "Scoop" shaking hands with county councilmen than the story about the guy charged with putting a camera on his foot and sliding it under a girl's skirt. That shows you why GT exists. They don't understand that valued news comes before promoting "Scoop" and the weekly photo of Patrick giving away a gas card to someone who read an ad. Anyone who buys into GT as a legitimate news outlet deserves exactly what they get. I'm not standing up for "my buddies." I'm standing up for journalistic integrity, and that certainly doesn't include allowing lawyers and officials write their own stories without a journalist making them back up their claims with probing questions. I remember how much people thought of the Emerald City Beacon and Lakelands Leader. Where are they today? I don't care who wins the war. All I care about is that the freedom of the press is not weakened by a group of people who have no journalism background, write HORRIBLY (geez, just read the stuff!), and who basically just post what officials say without doing their homework. It's "journalism" such as this that will set us back as far as freedom of the press. If officials think news outlets will just accept their "facts," then they will run amok. Do you really want that? Seriously, do you?
Greg

United States

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#4
Sep 5, 2007
 
Sometimes I think people just pick a side, even if they don't agree with it, and try to argue for the sake of argument. John, I think that's what you are doing -- that, or you have ties to Greenwood Today. It's almost impossible for me to believe that anyone can truly appreciate:

(A) A Web site that puts advertising and promotion first and news second.
(B) A Web site that is full of errors, which, like it or not, makes people say, "If they take this little pride in the product, how much can I rely on them."
(C) A Web site that lets officials do their own reporting. You might not know this, but The Index-Journal also publishes press release information, but they don't just let the government and law enforcement spin the story the way they want it spun; they follow up and ask questions to fill in the gaps that these sources convenietly leave out. Trust me, I've heard plenty of "All our detectives did a wonderful job" quotes. I have no beef with the sheriff. In fact, if I were in PR for the government, It would be my job to try to slip the "spun version" of the news into news outlets.(By the way, I can't understand what you mean by the Index being one-sided. That makes no sense. GT publishes one-source stories from one side, while the I-J talks to various sources on both sides of the issue).
(D) A Web site that has not thought through the consequences of its actions. They did not think that unfiltered message board without a clearinghouse for the information could be a legal liability? Any journalist would tell you that you can be held liable for allowing others to use your site to post libelous comments about another, which is just why the message board at GT was taken down.
(E) A mascot for a news source? Is it a Mikey Mouse operation? Come on. You are making a cartoon atmosphere out of what's suppose to be a serious news site. What would you think if CNN of FOX replaced its anchors with "Scoop" delivering the news?
(F) GT doesn't edit its content. PERIOD. It's beyond me how anyone who graduated middle school, much less high school, could write stories with run-on sentences, comma splices, incorrect information and poor grammar. A spelling problem or typo here or there? I can buy that. But when your site is filled with stories that get sent around e-mail groups where the subject line is "Read this goofy story" -- and trust me, I get them all the time -- then you know something is wrong. I have even had a middle school kid send me a story and point out all the mistakes, loopholes and general problems. That's terrible.

If news is headed the way of Greenwood Today, then line up for your ticket to communism, my friend, because when the government knows it can control the media to the point of using it as a press release portal, we are in SERIOUS trouble.

I hope you think hard about what you are asking for. If you really want a government-controlled and manipulated media, then I will not argue with you anymore. You can enjoy Greenwood Today all you want. I will choose to go with a news source I know will dig deeper and stand up for the residents of the community by asking tough questions and not just accepting what it is handed as fact. Do you really think that just because it comes from officials that it's a fact? Hmmm. I sure hope not.

But, I respect your ability to choose the information you want to receive. I just feel it's important to let you know that you are looking at the news unchecked, unfiltered and spun and woven by the source. I think if you look deep inside yourself, put your ego aside and truly pay attention to the points I made, you will come to the obvious conclusion that professional journalism is not going away.
John

Seabrook, SC

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#5
Sep 10, 2007
 

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Good lord son, didn't mean to whack your sore bone for "GT". Look journalism and the news business is all about making money. If you think it is not then you better wake up. Advertisers is what make the news happen. I bet if the advertiser stopped spending money in the Index, they would stop reporting news. That's because they could not afford to have the business. So please don't cut any business who depends on advertisers that places their income source at the top. It's because of the advertisers that the news is supplied on the internet for free!
Now you speak of journalism, yes there has been a few errors on the GT site, but a lot of good news also. You complain that GT gives statements supplied by certain people or government entities. I have noticed they do that but the show both sides of the story, allowing both parties to state their case. Then they do what the Index does not do, shut up! No need to put in opinions within the article to try to promote one's self image of something.
Were you guys taught to inject opinions? Is that Journalism? If so, I do not want it!
State the fact and get out of the way. Like it or not many people apparently see it the same as I do with the "GT" site: Informative!
hardly working

Greenwood, SC

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#6
Sep 10, 2007
 
I agree with Greg about the lack of professionalism on the Greenwood Today site. Sometimes I pull up the page just to see what type of blatant grammatical errors are present today. I can appreciate the owners of GT wanting to create an online news source and wanting to provide helpful information to its readers. However, if the site is to experience the growth that the owners envision, there needs to be some wholesale changes in the way the news is reported on GT.

First, there is no excuse for poorly written stories. Spelling errors, errors with subject-verb agreement, word misuse, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and poor punctuation are very telling of the competency (or lack thereof)of the staff. Quality writing does not require a degree in journalism. A fifth-grader can proofread a paragraph and eliminate 99% of the errors. Why can't GT do this? I can't understand why GT does not make a better effort at proof reading. If they only read over the articles once after writing them, I'm sure they would catch the majority of the errors. The fact that errors are published on a daily basis (and lots of them) tells me that they do little, if any proofing.

Also, there is no need to "praise" or "commend" the Sheriff's Department, the School District, the Greenwood Police Department, or any other local body. Bush league.

The advertising is a bit overwhelming. So overwhelming that I don't even pay attention to the ads because there are just too many of them. If there were a couple per page and if the ads were attractive, I may stop and look at them.

Contrary to what you may think from reading this, I'm not a big fan of the Index-Journal. I find their news to be very "agenda" oriented. Say what you want, but the major newspaper in a small town is always influenced by local politics. Plus, when I was a subscriber to the Index, the paper would often arrive in my box so wrinkled and crumpled that I had to iron it before I could read it. That goes back to the whole pride thing. If you are going to take the time to produce a product, the least you could to is make sure it is delivered to the customer somewhat readable.

To sum up, I think that GT has had a great start. If they want to continue to see growth in readership they really need to improve the layout of the site and invest in a spell-checker. Perhaps they can hire a few writers. GT also needs to make an effort to include more stories that may not be so sensational. I'm tired of logging on, only to see pictures of a fender-bender in front of the mall. It's time to do some true reporting. Get out there and beat the bushes. Tackle some tough stories. Find out why the arrest reports are filled with unlicensed (and probably uninsured) drivers and ask what the GPD and GCSO is doing about that.

Greewood Today, get your act together. The Index-Journal has been here a long time and they won't be far from your heels on this online news thing. If you listen closely, you can hear them coming up behind you. Start focusing on investigative reporting and quality writing. That will be the only way you survive the wrath of the Index-Journal.
Greg

Newport, NC

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#7
Sep 11, 2007
 
Good comments, Hardly Working. I like how you made points on both sides of your argument.
It's not like it wasn't suggested to GT to invest in a good editor early on in this process. Trust me. I suggested it. They balked.
I can appreciate people who want news in a hurry, but being accurate is always better than being fast. I prefer to wait a little longer to get the accurate story than to get something posted quickly that is riddled with typos, grammar problems and, worst of all, gross factual errors. GT's brass has a big chip on its shoulder and an even bigger ego. Buy an AP Stylebook and read it. It's not that hard. Read a few online grammar sites. Send your reporters to some crash-course journalism training. Read the tips on South Carolina Press Association Web site -- especially the parts about legal issues. Go online and buy a book about meida law and ethics. Read up on the Freedom of Information Act. Bring in a local professional photographer for a day to teach your reporters how to take a picture in focus and how to properly frame a photo. Focus on a few major advertisers and stop trying to put 30 ads on your front page. It devalues them. Stop pushing contests on your front page. Create a link for contests and keep it off the news page. Stop having your owner have his picture on the front page once a week handing a free gas card to an ad reader. Do your own stories and stop just copying and pasting press releases onto your site. There: If you want to really improve your product, follow some of those guidelines. If you don't, trust me, you will be gone in a year. I can promise you that. And if you keep saying someone was "arrested for" something, you are going to be sued left and right. Someone is "arrested" and "charged" with something. You can't legally connect A to C (arrest to act) without touching on a legal issue of implied guilt. That's right there in the media law books, folks. Read it.
hardly working

Greenwood, SC

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#8
Sep 12, 2007
 
It seems to me that the owners of GT are not really sure what kind of site they want to create. What may have started out as a news site has quickly been changed to an ad page, contest forum, community praise reports, and who know what else.

One thing I know to be true, if you don't have a destination, you'll never get there. GT, what is your final destination? If you want to be a respected source for news, then you must invest the time and effort into meeting the standards of news organizations. If you want to be a local forum for discussion, feel-good stories, and community activism, then drop the news.

It's hard enough to do either well enough to get people to keep coming back. But, if you try to do both and fail miserably at both (which is the direction you are heading) then I can assure you it won't last long.

This is not a slam, just some advice that I think you would be wise to consider. Take a step back, GT, and think of what it is you want your site to be. You can't be all things to all people. Choose a concentration in which you have some experience and know-how and go in that direction.

Greg may sound like he has a personal vendetta against GT, but he makes some good points and seems to know what he is talking about from a journalistic standpoint. I would take his advice about the legal ramifications very seriously. Nothing will shut down a business or a website quicker than a lawsuit. I don't want to see that happen to anybody.
Greg

United States

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#9
Sep 14, 2007
 
Great points, Hardly Working. You filled in the areas I missed. Very good stuff.

No vendetta. I totally agree with you: Decide what you want to be -- a legitimate and respected news source or a feel-good, post-anything site. If you want to be the first, do your homework. But don't advertise yourself as "factual news" when you make gross factual errors in nearly EVERY story.
Softball Dad

United States

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#10
Oct 3, 2007
 
My daughter's softball team played a tournament in Greenwood a couple of weeks back. A Greenwood Today staff member apparently was there, took pictures and posted a great many pictures on line and also wrote an informative article about the tournament. I don't see the Index-Journal (or many other local print newspapers) doing this. I appreciated the effort.

I won't say the that writing would win any journalism prizes, though...
WAY to Go Greenwood TODAY

Greenwood, SC

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#11
Oct 23, 2007
 

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Good Job

Maybe the index journal will get off their a$$ and do a better job of providing community stories.
katherine martinez

United States

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#12
Feb 19, 2008
 
A story was run on my grandson and his wife on November 20th, 2007, in your paper. His wife is out and he is still in your Greenwood jail. Robert Williams is a young man, with no one except the lawyer assigned to him for security. He was injured over a month ago when he fell. His knee is swelled so bad he can barely walk. His knee is swelled all the way to his ankle, which is black and blue. He has been isolated, in an area where he will have 15 steps to walk up and down and not even allowed to have a shower. I am not sure what the news paper can do, BUT I'm sure that it can announce the need for some crimanal charges against the people who are responsible for his lack of care. He was trained to be a truck driver and had 2 physicals less then 12 months ago. These checkups will prove there was nothing wrong with his leg before he was put into the jail. According to his wife, the hospital has determined the cause of the childs condition was done at delivery-the asumed bruse was a bad case of craddle cap. She is out and has bee or over 2 monthsPase se if somene from your town can have the christian LOVE th Sth has, and check on him. I am hs grandmother and in a wheel chair or I would all ready be there . Please beg of u look nto this. Katherine Martinez-
justintrouble

Lacey, WA

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#13
May 28, 2008
 
I agree ,I don't see much in the site. I try to read it everyday but it gets on my nerves so bad.
Did these reporters go to COLLEGE. You know get edumakated. Daa.... Clean up the opinion stuff,---------get out there and get me a storey!--------- I always wanted to say that...Peace All!
Former Greenwood Resident

United States

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#14
Jul 3, 2008
 
Thank You Greg and John, The comments both of you posted were fascinating! It's good to know that Greenwood residents take such strong positions on their news sources!... While you both have different opinions, each of you presented your views with very interesting points .....
My Greenwood Net

Greenwood, SC

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#15
Sep 24, 2008
 
Why not let the community decide and define it themselves and take out the censorship altogether.

This is a do-it-yourself site here

http://www.mygreenwood.net
They both

Greenwood, SC

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#17
Oct 17, 2009
 

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Suck it real hard. Typical small town bs.
oldphart

Angier, NC

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#18
Oct 17, 2009
 
Who cares. It is the only local news to read.
obamanation

United States

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#19
Feb 18, 2010
 

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I really don't see what the big deal is. If you don't like Greenwood Today, then don't www. It. I like the fact that it shows a COMPLETE arrest report, rather than an "editors pick of 3 or 4". No subscription needed and I can look it up on my phone in a restaraunt without having a giant 30"x30" handful of folded papers to find what I'm looking for. Why waste money daily on a paper when you can go online. And if you find the facts to be untrue, then its easier to cross-check facts online rather than just stick with what's printed in your hand. At least they fill the space with ads or sponsors instead of soduko and Garfield. To each is own I guess.......
Greenwood Resident

Yemassee, SC

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#20
Mar 31, 2011
 
I feel there needs to be another voice in Greenwood and if you don't want to read Greenwood Today than stay off the site. The Index Journal has been the one sided paper of the conservative voice in Greenwood. Now that there is competition their friends are trying to beat down Greenwood Today and that's typical, but people in town know this and will continue to read Greenwood Today to get community news and not whatever the Index wants to print......
Pamela Cates

United States

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#21
May 13, 2011
 
I just wish some paper some journalist some detective or police could or would do something to solve my friends murder it is almost three years since GLENN TAYLOR was shot and killed if SOMEONE could do somthing or just listen to me i would be thankful and his FAMILY would be very greatful.......

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