While navigating the Daily Sentinel’s website a couple of days ago, I noticed that the Opinion Page had the return of Letters to the Editor listings. These letters were moved to the Sentinel’s Community website when it was created in February 2008.
As it happens, these links appear to herald the quiet and unceremonious demise of the Community site itself. The link remains on the Sentinel’s website, but directs readers to the main Opinion page.
I wrote about the Community site twice in 2008, when it launched and when Sentinel staff had to intervene to attempt to quell some commentary in the Forums section that had devolved into a flame war. I wrote back then:
The Sentinel and its’ parent company (whomever that may be in the future) are keenly aware of how the manner in which the Community site is used is a direct reflection on the reputation of the Sentinel and the domain GJSentinel.com. I applaud their level of tolerance and restraint up to this point in time, but I also feel that their recent action was necessary. The challenge now is to put some consistency and accountability behind the rhetoric.
In the 14 months since that post, I didn’t pay much attention to the Community site, save to review the Letters to the Editor. Ironically, I made a comment on one of those letters last week, the first time in a long while. My uneducated impression since last year was that the site was not growing, and the ‘community’ it was serving was just a niche group of heavily opinionated individuals. Not that there’s a problem with that, but I can see the increased difficulty for the Sentinel to expend manhours to maintain a site in such a condition.
I sent an e-mail to Bob Silbernagel, who is in charge of the Sentinel’s editorial content, asking for some insight as to why the site was disappeared without so much as a single-column obituary.
For those of you who may not follow Bob’s online video series Over The Top, he’s on a beach somewhere right now. I hope to hear from him when he returns.
The Community site’s demise is not a matter of particular concern to me. The handwriting was on the wall a year ago. I’m more concerned about how these things affect mindsets and trends. I’m hoping that the mindset at the Sentinel in the Seaton era is not to back off of robust, interactive online content that affords the educated reader the ability to interact with those producing content, and that access to online content, and enhancement of the print experience through it, remains as available as it possibly can be. In other words, free.
I’m still a big fan of the YourHub site sponsored by the Denver Post, and the manner in which it allows members of numerous Metro Denver neighborhoods and communities to produce and moderate content specific to their areas. I still think that something like that has great potential for the Grand Junction metro area. End of sales pitch.
I feel bad that Community.GJSentinel.com didn’t work out. I know there are better ideas out there that may make more sense in lots of ways.
Have a good day.