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Epilogue: The Photo News and comment blocking

The Photo News

Epilogue: The Photo News and comment blocking.

When we published our piece on the state of journalism in Monroe’s The Photo News, we apparently struck a nerve on social media, including the lack of journalistic integrity and comment blocking. We weren’t the only people who felt outraged.

The Photo NewsFacebook groups have taken to a grass-roots campaign with which this website agrees wholeheartedly. Emily Convers, Chairperson for the grass-roots organization, United Monroe, issued the following call-to-arms, focusing efforts on an e-mail campaign directed at The Photo News editor, Bob Quinn. As a public service, we’ve reprinted that call-to-action in its entirety. To differentiate, her information in italics:

Call to Action (Convers):

I think at this point, it’s time to urge the Photo News to write more fair and balanced articles.

If you’re interested in seeing articles with more than one side (Harley Doles’) printed, feel free to cut and paste the below letter and send it to Bob Quinn, the editor of the Photo News at: editor.pn@strausnews.com

Mr. Quinn,

In recent editions of the Photo News, many articles have been printed about the opening of the “TMACC” and the annexation process. In all of these articles, you have failed to mention any alternative perspectives. 

United Monroe, the grassroots organization which was borne out of the opposition to the Town Board’s purchase of the movie theater, has garnered 7,800 votes in recent elections and our endorsed candidates have won the last two School Board elections, the recent Village of Harriman election as well as the last Village of Monroe election. 

Your coverage of the theater has been entirely one sided. 
There are thousands of citizens, your readership, who are opposed to the Town Board’s purchase and fiscally irresponsible control over this building, yet your articles fail to mention this fact.

I have little doubt that Supervisor Doles has asked you to continue to promote the opening of this venture of his, which he and his Comptroller have acknowledged will lose thousands of dollars each year.

This enterprise, “TMACC”, is being subsidized by the taxpayers of Monroe and, unfortunately, the Monroe citizens will also be paying for movies and popcorn if they were to attend this theater.

That would be the same as the school district charging tuition to the parents of Monroe Woodbury students in addition to them paying school taxes. It’s ludicrous, yet, this has not been mentioned in any of the theater articles.

Why is that?

As the Editor of our only local news source, it is your responsibility to report all sides of an issue, especially ones as controversial as the movie theater and the annexation.

Please remember that virtually no one outside of Kiryas Joel votes or supports Harley Doles. Your readership, in large part, are voting members of United Monroe and are becoming increasingly more disenchanted with your reporting. 

Responsible journalism requires that a reporter research all sides of a story. This includes annexation, the movie theater, Town Board members actions and decisions. 

Monroe is in a historically critical period right now. You have a unique opportunity to cover this situation comprehensively, yet, it appears to many that Supervisor Doles has had a great deal of say as to what has been printed, much to the dismay of thousands of Monroe area citizens.

It’s crucial that you use your position as Editor in this publication for the good of the readership, and report on the ever increasing opposition to the TMACC and the 507 acre annexation.

It’s time for fair and balanced reporting.

Thank you.

[your name]

Editor Notes:

We would also recommend any mention that you might make of the fairness of the comment blocking practice on The Photo News. That practice often blocks authenticated comments but blocks those who remain anonymous and are likely known to the publisher. We’ve cited examples that we use on this site for comment moderation — this site uses the exact same apparatus (Disqus) for authenticating and managing comments. Along with other open-source tools, we’ve found this a very effective practice. The following is our recommended post-script, also in italics, which you may feel free to append to your submissions:

In addition, it’s time for the irresponsible management of article comments to stop. The Photo News has allowed anonymous slander and hateful remarks targeted at Monroe’s own citizens, while banning responsible and authenticated replies. It’s time to stop “Guest Commenting” and enforce “Comment Authentication”. The recent article on Suburbanites.com summarizes those concerns.

It’s time that our voices be heard and the responsible journalism return to Monroe.

Managing Editor