Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
Since the management of these sites decided to allow readers to offer feedback, it’s my observation that the implementation of the comments section created two separate blogs.
You have each individual blogger writing in his/her own style. Then the community is afforded the opportunity to react.
The comments have taken on a life of their own, ranging from complimentary to unsportsmanlike conduct.
Generally, the vast majority of the comments have been the kind that don’t need to be sent to the “BLOG COMMENT GRAVEYARD.”
Readers must understand that if they bite, the blogger has every right, and is going to bite back.
I’ve been struck by the calls to tone it down and be nicer. They seem to come from individuals who don’t mind tossing the mud around.
It’s this spirited feedback that I believe has generated great interest, so much so that readers check in, not just to read what Kevin and Fred and Bryan and Mary are offering, but also to read how others will respond. Whose skin did they get under this time?
The pattern usually goes like this: blogger writes about a topic that grabs attention, reader takes issue and expresses his/her sentiment, another reader takes issue the response, and back and forth they go. Suddenly, like a soap opera, you have one or more sub-plots cooking all at the same time, in effect, two blogs in one.
Most chuckle at the verbal pro wrestling. A small minority gets so taken aback that they clamor for turning the blogging fisticuffs into an ice cream social. Don’t buy it.
When I worked at WTMJ Radio in the 90’s, our news department made a conscious decision during the O.J. Simpson trial to produce on a daily basis in-depth reports on various legal angles, often utilizing the expertise of local attorneys and analysts.
Our phones rang. Get that stuff off the air, they yelled. We’re sick and tired of that junk over and over again, they hollered.
The reality was the public was interested in the case, the public was following it, and they wanted more, not less coverage. Ratings went up during this period.
The same is no doubt true for the fireworks on this website. With rare exceptions, I find the spirited commentary to be welcome. Personally, I believe those who strongly disagree with me do me a favor and a disservice to their cause(s). And for the most part, like those who slow down to view the aftermath of a traffic accident, readers love the give and take on our blogs.
Of course, more civil debate is also welcome. But even those who have moaned that the climate gets too nasty never leave. They keep coming back to read, and comment, more.
There is, in my view, a major drawback.
When you have two or maybe more blogs going on the same blog (if I can put it that way), the theme of the original blog or topic can be lost in the swirling myriad of all-over-the map comments.
This can be corrected, but it will require greater discipline on the part of bloggers who should rarely take action while moderating. They can and should urge readers to stay on topic, and yours truly is just as guilty of dropping the ball as anyone else.
So FranklinNOW.com has morphed into not one, but two blogs. If handled properly, that will be a win-win for readers.