Should Reporters' Email Addresses Be Included With Stories?

from the have-to-do-at-least-something... dept

Mark Glaser’s latest article at OJR takes on the question of whether or not reporters should list their email address with stories they write so that readers can contact them. The general consensus is that it’s definitely worthwhile, though there are a few problems with spam and hate mail. Personally, one of the more frustrating things is coming across an article where I want to communicate with the author of the piece – and it’s impossible to do so. Of course, I can certainly understand weighing that against hate mail and spam. Of course, the simplest solution (though, not perfect) is to list an alternate email address that is used only for responses to written work. This is basically what we do with Techdirt’s “feedback” page. This way, it doesn’t clog up the author’s main email box, but still lets them view reader emails, and respond when necessary. As for the issue of hate mail, it seems to serve no purpose to respond to it, since any response at all is probably what the writer was hoping for.

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Comments on “Should Reporters' Email Addresses Be Included With Stories?”

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thecaptain says:

No Subject Given

I agree with the above poster.

I’d LOVE to be able to personally contact a reporter after reading a story, either to compliment or perhaps argue different points. In a perfect world, this would be perfect in email.

However, we ALL know what kind of idiots lurk on the net…it seems most people have an inner *ssh*le that just cuts loose online…which makes the idea almost useless.

Rhelic says:

No Subject Given

The best way to give you a method to contact the author, prevent spam, and allow the author to keep his anonymousity (sp?) is by having a “reply” at the bottom of the article.

If the newspaper doesn’t want reader’s opinions appearing on articles, then simply replace the forum with a form that forwards your typing to the author. And any web programmer with half a brain knows how to make a site wide contact form that doesn’t include the author’s email in the form’s html code.

I’d like to comment I’m the sole coder for a largely distributed (but nothing you’ve heard of) newspaper.

I could rant for hours about the lack of features on online newspaper but my biggest pet peeve is that some articles don’t put a date in the article (most do but I still come across sites that do) and worse yet, don’t credit an author and when they do, should provide a link to an author biography (not just an email) where I can see other articles the author wrote, contact info, pictures, etc.

Maybe I’m just obsessed but I thought this was the “information age” but sometimes we only seem to get “just enough” information.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Subject Given

I once came across an article by a complete idiot suggesting that flashing lights to get driver to get out of the left lane is perfectly acceptable.
The idiot also posted his email address.
I wrote him and thanked him and told him that I now have a bumbersticker that say: Hate my driving asshole ? Email me @

He gave stupid advice and now he can hear from all the other people like myself that refuse to be bullied by pricks that think they own the road because their vehicles come with high beams.

Anonymous Coward says:

article-specific email addresses

why wouldn’t you control the spam by creating article-specific email addresses:

That gets routed as necessary. Prevents someone from opening themselves up to a never-ending stream of mail: you can shut down the box after N days/weeks/months and auto-respond with: “Thanks for your comments, however, the author is no longer accepting feedback on this story because it was published more than N months ago”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: article-specific email addresses

Yeah, in the “old days” before double opt-in emails, the chaotically evil, passive-aggressive response to something like that was to sign up the author’s email to the “teen asian @#$@ warehouse” newsletter, or sign a Republican up to the Greenpeace newsletter, and so on. The above poster has it right about anonymity bringing out some of the worst in people.

Still, there are any number of good ways (also listed above) to accomplish this. I just think from a practical perspective, many popular writers or journalists wouldn’t have time to respond to additional requests or info. Sadly enough.

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