By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
Much of what’s said about the comments on sbnewspaper.com, I’m sure, is negative. In fact, I’ve long imagined that many a conversation in text messages or at the water coolers/break rooms/fax machines/kitchen tables of our lives consists of utter dismay and disgust. But then there are moments of laughter I envision, as well as tenderness, when readers skim through the more light-hearted and heartwarming commentary. My favorite occurrences are when readers become so engaged that they begin to play reporter, treating their comments as blogs or a venue to report breaking news from the world of local politics and the like.
Such is the case for any community – small towns or big cities – where an open forum is available for citizens to vent. And this is exactly what we had in mind when designing sbnewspaper.com.
A fledgling website once criticized as an afterthought compared to our print publication, the San Benito News’ online edition has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and now stands on its own merits – a worthy companion (not a competitor) to a proud publication.
Together, our print and online products reach tens of thousands of readers weekly from a combined populace that does not exceed 50,000. Meditate on that for a second.
We’ve managed to accomplish this feat not by compromising our print edition, but by highlighting on the web all the things that are fantastic about the best newspaper in the Valley (yeah, I said it) – this by using a format that captivates a readership hungry for information without also compromising our newspaper in the process. Not all our stories are on the web and vice versa. The articles that are featured are synopses that direct you toward the print- or e-Edition. Some believed this would be an annoyance for readers, but our numbers prove otherwise.
And here’s why.
What you can read in their entirety are our staff columns, which are often commentaries from yours truly on the very subjects that readers also find important. We also have entries from contributors sharing their thoughts/advice on…well, everything. Enter commenters with their views.
Also, the news items that go live on sbnewspaper.com tell the gist of a story before prompting readers to grab a paper and check out the rest of the article. Stories do eventually show up in their entirety, but only after that edition’s papers are off the newsstands.
This is a model that has proven successful, and it’s in large part due to the participation of our readers. While we anticipated as much, I must say that we’re pleased to see so many comments fill up our posts every day. It’s an indication that we’re doing something right as much as it’s proof that people care enough about their communities to offer praise and criticism.
Granted, there are cases in which people have taken advantage of our website; case in point, our one-and-only troll who only comments to insult our staff members – myself included – and even entire minorities. Though irrelevant, this individual takes the time to log in, read our stories and aids in our success by commenting and refreshing the site to see if it’s been approved.
If you’re reading (and you know who you are), thanks!
I’d like to leave you with an important note to consider when hearing about “the blogs” in San Benito (it’s actually called the comments section, but hey…as long as you’re checking us out, you can call it whatever you want!). While there’s plenty that we’ve all rolled our eyes at when reading through some of the comments on sbnewspaper.com, remember that it’s a privilege to participate in such a process. What you, our readers…our lifeblood, have to say is so important to us that the model we’ve incorporated for this entity known as sbnewspaper.com was created to accommodate your voice.
Until next week, stay safe and thanks for reading.