I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and of the degree of the arcades' curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past...A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira's past. -Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Wikitorials

I heard an interview this weekend with Michael Kinsley, editorial and opinion page editor of the The Los Angeles Times on their revamped editorial page and wikitorials. I have to admit while the community concept of the wikitorial intrigued me, I was not sure I totally agreed with his logic. Kinsley noted that in the early days of newspapers, editorials were where the publisher of the paper got his (yes, always his in those days) chance to voice his opinion to the world. Kinsley feels that this is largely irrelevant in today's world, where one conglomerate publisher may own many newspapers, with different editorial opinions. Thus the printed "op ed" pages should lean more to op than ed, and anyway, unsigned editorials carry less weight with readers than signed opinions (even if you have never heard of the opinion writer). And, the readers should have an opportunity to voice their "eds." Ultimately, the panel of editors that write editorials should perhaps even have their opinions influenced and minds changed by those community opinions.

All well and good and yes I think the wikitorial itself is cool. But I am not so sure that the editorials are irrelevant. Maybe this is my bias...I don't mind unsigned editorials, and I like that there is an area that is the voice of the paper. It lets me know what I am reading and where the paper is coming from (even though the editorial writers don't determine the content of the rest of the paper, helps to know where the slant is coming from).

Anyway, I guess my rant is more about editorials...others have been writing on the concept of wikitorials themselves, though interestingly, the wikitorials have so far not lasted long...when I checked it today their was this message:

Unfortunately, we have had to remove this feature, at least temporarily, because a few readers were flooding the site with inappropriate material.

Thanks and apologies to the thousands of people who logged on in the right spirit.

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