Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

The News is dead, long live the News.

25. July 2009 • Murph
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AnnArbor.com screenshot, day 2

As of yesterday, AnnArbor.com is live.

Several comment threads on the site allow for watching the site refine itself on the fly.



  1. So far, I give the acorn a D-. I want to like it, but it’s all fluff.

    There’s surprisingly little content for anybody who wants to know what’s actually happening in the city.

    You killed The News for this?


       —A blog reader    Jul. 25 '09 - 04:53PM    #
  2. I created a support page for AnnArbor.com on Get Satisfaction because all those different threads are full of disorganized questions and responses.

    Content aside (there’s lots of rewritten press releases, oh joy), I want to point out that their neighborhood feeds don’t credit the original authors of articles — which generally is the Chronicle


       —MattH    Jul. 26 '09 - 05:04AM    #
  3. 1. The actual print version, after a five minute quick scan, is filled with articles, looks a bit like the design of the Detroit News and sort of matches the amount of news space the A2 News had five years ago prior to the cutbacks.

    2. The webpage sucks. Little real news, the home page has the new posts at the top of the page (stop the presses…a TRUFFAUT film at the Michigan). I will never click on most of the ‘blogs’ that sound like sappy junior high Disneyland chatter, but I guess I was expecting more news news. If the Sunday paper is any indication, you probably have no need to go online at all.

    3. Someone mentioned this seemed more like a ploy to ditch the higher salaries and the five other days of zero profit daily publication and replace it with Thursday and Sunday ad filled editions (and a lot less payroll). The webpage, from the design, seems more like an after though.


       —Alan Goldsmith    Jul. 26 '09 - 07:20PM    #
  4. Alan – my sentiments exactly. I will get my news from the New York Times, the Freep on line and Jon Stewart.


       —Leah Gunn    Jul. 26 '09 - 11:26PM    #
  5. A few impressions of Sunday’s first hard copy: Almost imperceptible cosmetic makeover; some different names on bylines. Content of substance has shrunk further. Remarkably, features originating within Newhouse (presumably free to the owners) are MIA (e.g. Luke on Lansing politics, Whitty on movies). The editorial invitation for reader advice is unpersuasive; that ploy was also in the News when the big trimming came (Ed P. did not acknowledge suggestions, never mind considering them). The one indication of editorial (un)professionalism is the letters to the editor (5 letters about the Council election: in one race, 3 letters for one candidate, none for his opponent; in the other race, 2 for one candidate, none for the other 2).


       —Henry Brysk    Jul. 27 '09 - 01:54PM    #
  6. What happened to Tracy Davis of the AA news? She was one of the few bright lights, and now gone. Instead, we will get even more boosterish drivel from Geoff Larcom. That guy needs to move out of Ann Arbor and get a life.


       —Just a homeowner    Jul. 27 '09 - 02:43PM    #
  7. Thanks Matt for setting up the Get Satisfaction site. We had our first success with it today; the Outside.In folks also have support via Get Satisfaction, and we figured out how to pull the North Dakota stories out of our neighborhood feeds that shouldn’t have them. (Yes, really. San Francisco stories too.)


       —Edward Vielmetti    Jul. 27 '09 - 07:55PM    #
  8. Ed—if Outside In can pull out North Dakota stories, can they pull out the stories for the Wines neighborhood that are about wine? Yes, really.


       —Ruth    Jul. 27 '09 - 08:09PM    #
  9. Ruth: Yes, really. (And don’t forget the stories in Logan about Logan, the restaurant.)

    This is what I posted and got back:

    http://getsatisfaction.com/outsidein/topics/postings_mis_categorized

    “If you ever see any bugs or errors you can email us at contact{at}outside[dot]in or fill out this form here: http://outside.in/help “

    (And of course that should be reflected on the site itself, but one small step, etc.)


       —Edward Vielmetti    Jul. 28 '09 - 02:22AM    #
  10. Edward,
    Know you’re site is still really new, but is there more to come? For “news” I see cop briefs and rewritten UM press releases…


       —bhall    Jul. 29 '09 - 05:33PM    #
  11. Rewritten press releases are annoying, especially the one on the funding for two new Ypsilanti cops. Especially when the writer adds they were unable to reach anyone at the Police Department for comment…

    Not sure if they looked in the white pages for the number.


       —Alan Goldsmith    Jul. 29 '09 - 05:58PM    #
  12. Re #5: I haven’t seen the letters or contributed to them, but I don’t understand the point on editorial (un)professionalism regarding the numbers of letters for candidates. Are you suggesting that only equal numbers of each should be published, regardless of the number received?

    When I ran last year, many of my supporters told me that they submitted letters on time to the News that were never published. I don’t know how they (the News) made the decision to cut some letters and not others.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Jul. 29 '09 - 06:43PM    #
  13. There seemed to be an issue from the pre-kickoff comments on A2.com about not being sure if there would be “enough space” to include letters to the editor in the Thursday print edition. We’ll see what happens. I guess they need more room for food and parenting blogs.


       —Alan Goldsmith    Jul. 29 '09 - 07:01PM    #
  14. Vivienne,

    Actually I can’t wait to see if A2.com does any endorsements for local elections. You know, like the A2 News where last November they were so confused and cowardly they couldn’t pick a candidate…lol.


       —Alan Goldsmith    Jul. 29 '09 - 07:13PM    #
  15. I think that the comments about electoral endorsements and the letters selected to be printed can add up to a consistent interpretation: Alan remarked that the News was too cowardly to pick a candidate last time. Vivienne observed that many more letters are submitted than printed. I noted that the selection of letters last Sunday was totally one-sided. Is this a cowardly way of making endorsements without writing an editorial?


       —Henry Brysk    Jul. 29 '09 - 08:46PM    #
  16. I didn’t go back over the whole thread to find Alan’s comment about not picking a candidate last time, but I assume he was referring to the 2008 presidential race. In the 2008 city council primary, they gave full-throated support to the Council Party (the mayor’s picks). This extended beyond the editorial endorsements to the reporting, which was biased and prejudicial against me and other candidates who were perceived as running against the CP line.

    The point I was trying to make is that letters in support of any candidate should be published in the order received, and best to publish all of them. Any effort to balance the number published is to the advantage of a candidate who does not have supporters writing letters. Letters are both an indication of community support and of the efficacy of the campaign organization. I would be alarmed to see any news organization publish them selectively.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Jul. 29 '09 - 09:18PM    #
  17. I did mean the 2008 Presidential election. But when the A2 News would endorse someone in a local election, it wasn’t always a positive campaign event. I think at times there could have been an anti-News backlash but not always.

    But Vivienne is right about the slanted coverage for the non-favored candidates.

    I think the ‘one sided’ letters last Sunday was just a lot of pro-change letter writers being quick out of the gate for the debut issue of the newspaper.


       —Alan Goldsmith    Jul. 30 '09 - 11:53AM    #
  18. On the a2.com site for the past few minutes:

    “AnnArbor.com is temporarily unavailable.
    AnnArbor.com is temporarily unavailable.Ê During routine maintenance, we experienced a problem with our servers that weÕre working to resolve as quickly as possible.Ê Please check back for additional updates.Ê For those of you who have signed up for the newsletter, we’ll send you an email as soon as the site is back up.Ê We apologize for any inconvenience.Ê”


       —Alan Goldsmith    Jul. 30 '09 - 11:54AM    #
  19. I just went to Quantcast.com to get a rough estimate of the traffic on AnnArbor.com compared to AnnArborChronicle.com.

    AnnArbor.com “reaches approximately 3,224 U.S. monthly people.”
    AnnArborChronicle.com “reaches approximately 4,299 U.S. monthly people.”

    These figures are rough estimates, because neither site has been “quantified” (registered).

    There are four-month graphs which are also worthy of a look.

    Even though AnnArbor.com’s site was only officially launched on July 24, it was known and open to the public for a couple of months prior to that date, so these figures are valid for the pre-launch period. We’ll know more in a month or so, after AnnArbor.com’s post-launch figures are available.


       —David Cahill    Jul. 30 '09 - 01:52PM    #
  20. Today’s “acorn” has more electoral letters. In the 2nd Ward, it adds up to 10 letters for Anglin to 0 for Rosecrans. The 3rd Ward is curiouser: one-sided in both issues, but 2 for Bullington on Sunday, 7 for Greden on Thursday; none for Kunselman either day. My training in statistics tells me that such one-sided runs are improbable in a random process (such as Vivienne proposes) and are likely to indicate bad sampling (whether by design or poor planning). As Alan predicted, there is no editorial (at all, not just on the vote). My ward has no contest, so I have not studied up on the candidates and cannot gauge the role of ideology. Today’s paper does fit with the News’ past tendency to favor incumbents (regardless of what they stand for).


       —Henry Brysk    Jul. 30 '09 - 09:54PM    #
  21. Anglin & Rosencrans are 5th ward, not 2nd.


       —Leah Gunn    Jul. 30 '09 - 10:08PM    #
  22. I didn’t say that letter-writing and publishing is a random process. I said that the letters for an individual candidate will reflect either/both that person’s support in the community or the proficiency of the campaign. If the news medium publishes all letters presented to it, those are the only factors involved, not some sort of bias as #20 implies. If the news medium makes selections, then an issue of bias could be raised. But they can’t publish letters they don’t receive. The statistical sampling concept doesn’t apply (and in fact would only if there were random letter generators out there).


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Aug. 3 '09 - 11:06PM    #