The chore of moderating story comments at The Register Citizenturned into an opportunity to greatly improve the newspaper’s reporting on a breaking news story on Valentine’s Day.
Editor Rick Thomason saw a comment from someone who claimed to have been on the scene shortly after a fatal accident the paper was reporting on. He emailed the man, a phone interview followed, and it led to this eyewitness account.
Thomason also saw story comments from family members of the victims, and was able to get in touch with them, too, through the email address they’d used.
“I wasn’t sure his email was legit, but gave it a shot. Fifteen minutes later he called and, needless to say, his comments added so much more – and a heavy dose of humanity – to our follow-up story where the names of the victims are listed,” Thomason said. “Using the same tactics, I was able to contact a family member of the injured man. Couldn’t get a status update from the hospital, so tried one of the family members who left a comment on the story. Had a response in 5 minutes and corresponded with her all night. Once I posted the story with the comments from the first guy on the scene, she wrote back again, thanking me for telling his story.”