Sunday, September 06, 2009

Winners and Losers at the Standard-Examiner

A belated spotlight on yesterday's Dave Greilling column

There's not much to write about in this morning's Emerald City news, but there is one back-burner item worthy of note. Std-Ex editor Dave Greiling provided an informative Std-Ex column yesterday, which touches on two topics which have been discussed earlier on Weber County Forum, i.e., the Standard's newly redesigned website, and the upcoming September 15 municipal election primary:
Adding the word Drupal to your vocabulary
First, Mr. Greilling points out that the new website is the first full website makeover in five years (we guess we can assume a change was overdue); and he predicts that once Std-Ex readers get used to the new format, it will be "easier for site visitors to find the content they’re looking for." We spent several hours prowling the site yesterday; and it this point we believe Mr. Greiling is right. Whereas our main initial usability gripe had related to what seemed to be the poor indexing of online articles, we've now discovered that the indexing is actually improved. For those who haven't yet explored the website, look for this link in the front page upper left column: "Read more popular stories...". When you click this link you'll find a long list of story headlines which are available for quick and efficient browsing. And in truth, it's apparent that the Standard is increasing the volume of articles appearing on its website; and decreasing the number of them which remain hidden behind the paid Digital Edition firewall too.

Mr. Greiling also mentions the revamped article comments sections, and the beginning of a "voluntary" registration system, (which signals the end of "anonymous" comments on the Std-Ex site). We can well understand why the Standard decided to adopt this new system. Take it from us. From a webmaster's point of view, the task of monitoring the trolls and vandals is a royal pain; and we thus applaud the Std-Ex for taking this decisive step. While we'll predict that this system will result in a drop in reader comments, we believe there's also a bright side to this. We completed the simple registration process yesterday and were delighted to find that the the comments section module has been vastly improved, with word-processor-style text formatting functions and a whole potload of other new capabilities. Yeah, it's a tradeoff between privacy and greatly enhanced usability. On balance however, we're going to call the new comments system, and the site design itself... a Winner.

Mr. Greiling devotes the second half of his column to the Standard's decision to withhold the results of its forthcoming council candidate questionnare until September 10, a full ten days after early voting had commenced. He justifies the decision on the basis of the fact that a number of council candidates had missed the September 1 submission deadline; and here's our take on that: Serious candidates who were truly interested in providing information to the public would have made this a first priority. Apparently numerous of them didn't. If we'd been running the Standard-Examiner news room, we'd have told the late submitters "tough luck."

Unlike the Standard's new website, we'll label the decision to withhold important candidate information during the week of early voting as the bone-headed decision that it was... a Loser.

Of course that's just us. So what say our gentle readers about all this?

30 comments:

RudiZink said...

Here's a question Ogden City voters need to ask:

If a number of candidates couldn't even muster up the energy to answer three simple questions in time for a 9/1/01 deadline, what level of diligence can we expect of them if they're ultimately elected to the council?

Once the Standard does get around to publishing the questionnaire, we hope they let us know which candidates held up the show.

OgdenLover said...

Rudi, perhaps those candidates who answered the SE on time could let you know and let you post a link to their responses on WCF's voter info page.
Any pattern to who couldn't be bothered to reply?

Jennifer Neil said...

mine was up a long time ago ...

J Neil

ozboy said...

Rudi tudi duti

I just luvs it when you make sense like your comment above: "we guess we can assume a change was overdue"

I think that should be the new motto of the Weber County Forum

"WE GUESS WE CAN ASSUME"

Seems to me that there has been a hell of a lot of that going on since the very birth of this blog.
There have also been a lot of "We assume we can Guess" going on as well. Both are a lot of fun I must confess.

Count me in with those that don't particularly like the new Standard Web site. Change is painful to some dinosaurs like me and once one finds their way around even a badly designed web site you get used to it and become sort of efficient on it. Then comes change and confusion and being pissed off cause the old tricks you learned ain't no good anymore. We even come to love some of these poorly designed sites. I think they call that the Stockholm syndrome?

It will be interesting to see how this registration business effects their comments volume and page hits. If there is a significant reduction in the latter, I suspect we will see them drop the registration requirement. I do hope the Standard can find the right internet business model and survive. It would even be greater if they made enough money at it that they could hire a good and competent Ogden beat reporter so that the citizens don't have to suffer any more of this nonsensical "he said she said the mayor said" BS that the current guy dishes up.

They might even make enough dough to hire some one smart enough to figure out that publishing candidate information two weeks after voting begins is just plain stupid. Hell, I'll volunteer to fill that position with the Standard for free! There probably is some one with an ounce of sense in that management team as witnessed by the fact that they set a Sep 1 deadline for candidates to submit their info. It just makes you wonder about their decision process when they reverse themselves like this.

I fully agree with ya Rudi on the "screw em if they can't submit by the deadline" candidates. If they can't even do something as simple and important at that, what kind of council person could they possibly make?

Any idea who the lame ones are? I assume I can guess that it would be awfully delicious if it were the Godfreyite candidates and they were some how in a deep and dark conspiracy over it!

wildcat said...

Q #2 from the Standard Examiner: Is the city moving in the right direction regarding downtown revitalization, promotion of Ogden as a high adventure hub or should it take a more hands-off approach?
Um, is this a real question? The folks who came up with this need to re-take grammar and maybe a course on polling question. The clause after the or is not directly related to the clause before the or. They may as well have just asked: is the city moving in the right direction or are Oranges Apples?
There is also a direct bias in the question as it doesn't get at the real issue here. The question is not right direction v hands-off approach. What if I think the city is moving in the wrong direction but don't favor a more hands-off approach? Or think it is moving in the right direction and want a more hands-off approach?
And with regards to the holding off on releasing the answer from the 3 questions till the 10th so that everyone can get their answers in I'm with Rudi.

Justin Morris said...

Here were my response, which were sent into the Standard on time.

My top priority is improving the image of Ogden and quality of life for its residents. This includes revitalizing the East Central Community; promoting and developing downtown Ogden (particularly 25th Street); continued expansion of trails and park/open space facilities and programs; and the preservation of Ogden’s foothills as open space. As a Professional Land Use Planner for Weber County and geography graduate from Weber State, I have the necessary background to understand local government process to help address Ogden’s problems.

Given the current economic situation the City should remove itself from direct financial participation in molding Ogden into a high-adventure hub and focus more on providing cost efficient services. However, Ogden should still market the amazing and abundant opportunities for biking, skiing, camping and hiking that make living here the best. One measure of success in this regard is all the agreeable press Ogden has received these last few years.

The current operation of the City Government is dysfunctional at best; the Marshal White Center disagreement is one in a series of communication breakdowns. Trust is gone and communication is seriously lacking. The council and administration need to revisit State law and City ordinance to gain a better understanding of how local government should operate. These deteriorated processes have left a sour image of local government for Ogden residents. While councilpersons and the administration may not agree on everything, cordially communicating with one another is the first building block in repairing what is broken. We all want what is best for the City; we just need to work together to achieve it in the most cost efficient and transparent way possible.

Justin Morris
Professional Land Use Planner for Weber County
I have no personal agendas, just a feeling of obligation to continue
to serve the community I have been a part of for many years.

Curmudgeon said...

Charlie Trentelman in his column today has a downtown idea: revitalize the Hof Winterfest, which used to be a big deal downtown, but cut off from city support, has been banished to the Golden Spike Center, where it is languishing. Charlie says Union Station used to host a big beer and German band event as part of the festivities.

Might be fun to bring back, provided we could convince the mayor not to replace the beer hall with face painting and the oompah bands with the MT Choir, that is....

Biker Babe said...

Yay, Charlie! I was at the very first Hof Winter Fest -- I thought it was great! I lived in Hof for a bit as a child, and wanted to see if anyone from there would actually come to Ogden.

They did - the music and the dancing was great - and even the beer drinkers behaved quite well!

just sayin

BB

Curmudgeon said...

Hey, guys, it's Labor Day weekend. A national holiday ostensibly at least to honor workin' stiffs [and to give same a day off with pay, though here in Right-To-Work-For-Less-Law Utah, that's relatively rare].

Trentelman's suggestion got me thinking "beer... music..." So, weather permitting, Ms. Curmudgeon and I will decamp for Snow Basin tomorrow afternoon for some al fresco music [Kap Bros, described as doing Rock and Blues] and a brew or two on the north lawn of Earl's place. [Snow Basin says it will have "a wide variety" of beverages available. That means beer and soft drinks, mostly. But the variety of suds on offer isn't half bad. The prices however.... No BYOs allowed.]

And if you're of a mind that fun cannot possibly be had without a gondola -- and there are such folk in Ogden, as we all too sadly know --- the Snow Basin gondola will I think be operating up to the Needles Lodge.

Time methinks to dial back the acrimony a tad, take in a mountain vista, let the high altitude make up a bit for the 3.2 nature of the brew, and chill. If not that, if you're not working tomorrow, find something fun to do. It's a holiday weekend, for Ra's sake. Ogden's a good place to be of an early Fall weekend. Take advantage of it.

Danny said...

Thanks to Jennifer Neil and Justin Morris for their answers to the questions, for running, and for dropping by this blog from time to time.

I can't find the words to fully express my appreciation to the good people who have chosen to run in this election.

From their answers, it is plan that they are not "anti Godfrey." But it is also plain that they have a vision that in some ways is substantially different than the mayor's.

This race is not between the "visionaries" and the "naysayers", but between different viewpoints of where Ogden should go.

I thank the good people who have stepped forward and have given us that choice.

Bill C. said...

Folks, a while back Curm mentioned that if he were a candidate the last place he would display a sign would be on a building that resembled something in Beruit, the Star Noodle building.
Not only has the lying little matty candidate nailed a sign on the most delapadated building on the street, but it appears he doesn't know what seat he's seeking. It's a phipp's sign printed for seat A. The big one at the Bingham cycle building say's the same thing.
This sort of shows just what type of Council the mayor desires.With this attention to detail he may be able to get a 100 million debt for a gym and a bowling alley. Oh wait, that happened.
Well I guess if you want condos all the way to Malans complete with a two-lane road and a double gondola, urban and mountain, phipps is your guy.

Dorrene Jeske said...

Danny,

You posted, "It is also plain that they have a vision that in some ways is substantially different than the mayor's.

This race is not between the "visionaries" and the "naysayers", but between different viewpoints of where Ogden should go."

I daresay that all of the council members fit that model, maybe some more than others, but we all want what is best for Ogden. Early on in my campaign in 2005, anyone who didn't agree with the Mayor was labeled a "naysayer." Then closer to the general election, a phrase was coined by the Godfrey camp that said we were "against everything." I remarked to Mark Johnson once before the election, "Yes, we have just added an "S" to it, and we were against everything stupid." The look on his face was priceless and he was speechless. We seldom heard that phrase after that. In fact, I can't remember exactly how that phrase went.

I am going to email Mr. Trentelman, and have him tell Bob Bennett that I, too, would like to see a similar old Hof Winter Festival return to Ogden, and offer my help.
The first year I was on the Council, there were some council members from the city of Hof who attended the celebration at the Golden Spike Arena. The City prepared a breakfast for them that was held in the Council's Conference Room. I attended the breakfast with several other Council members. It was delightful to meet and talk with them. I was dismayed that Mayor Godfrey did not feel it important enough to honor and show them the respect that they were due. I must applaud Mr. Patterson, because he did attend and most graciously represented the Mayor. When they presented their gifts to Ogden from Hof, I felt like Ogden displayed how little we think of their gifts when they were taken to a cabinet in the back corner of the Council's Chairman's office, and told that their gifts would be placed there along with past gifts. After they returned to Hof, one of the members of the Hof group sent me a copy of the newspaper that an article appeared about their trip to Ogden. Since my husband is German and knew German, I asked him to translate it for us.
A couple of months later, I was asked to represent the Ogden Council at an International Conference of Sister Cities. I sat at a table with a French gentleman who knew Scott Sneddon, and praised him highly for his efforts in connecting with Hof and adding vitality and enthusiasm to the "Sister City" program. Scott was also honored during the dinner. I made a suggestion that the City have a plaque made that credited Scott for initiating the Hof Winter Festival and beinning our association with Hof as our "sister city." I also suggested that the cabinet be moved to a more prominent place so the residents of Ogden could view its contents. Neither one of my suggestions were approved by other council members.
I was very happy to hear that some dignataries from Hof may be coming to next year's Winter Festival. It's been four years since we have had any visit Ogden during the Hof Winter Festival. They add so much to the festivities.

history tells all said...

When mayor Godfrey became mayor is when the hof was treated like second class. I is this same mayor that when on his gondola fact finding trip to Europe that he was involved with a police incident.

Trevor Hansen said...

I also had my questionnaire in to the standard examiner on time.



These are the three questions:
1-What is your top priority if you are elected to the council?

My top priority will be to focus on smart economic development to bring more retail like clothing, electronics, and department stores to downtown Ogden, similar to what it used to be, along with new cutting edge retail. When JCPenneys relocated to Riverdale, I wondered to myself, "Who is courting businesses to bring them back to the downtown area? What are the obstacles keeping businesses from relocating back to Ogden? Is it the high taxes? Crime? Lack of parking space? City ordinances are too stringent?

2-Is the city moving in the right direction regarding downtown revitalization, promotion of Ogden as a high-adventure hub or should it take a more hands-off approach?

I strongly believe the city needs to take a more hands-off approach and that Ogden's focus should be caring for citizens by taking care of the health, safety, and well-being of its residents and taxpayers. Another question that comes to my mind is, "Why is the city in the real estate business?" When the city has spent over $45 million dollars developing two square blocks downtown, I wonder how much more has been spent ineffectively, and we still don't have the right commerce to help strengthen our tax base.

3-Given the recent dispute between the city council and the administration over the Marshall White Center, what is your opinion regarding the relationship between the two bodies and what would you do to improve that relationship?

First of all, the mayor needs to be more honest and open in his communication with the Council chair at the initial onset of issues and inform the council as soon as possible instead of waiting until a conflict surfaces. Secondly, more transparency needs to occur. Third, eliminate lobbyists by having elected officials talk to other elected officials about community issues. I would ask my constituents for their input and bring those concerns to council meetings. As a council member, I believe accountability and responsibility are necessary to truly represent the public and their concerns, instead of allowing one person to dictate what issues should be addressed. I recall the U.S. Constitution suggests that the government is “for the people, by the people, and of the people.” After all, we are running a government here, not a business.

Concerned Voter said...

Trevor,

Thank you for your post and answers. I find your answers to be well thought-out and cover the issues in depth. You do not appear to be as some who post on this blog would have us believe. Let us hear more from you.

I am impressed with Justin Morris' qualifications for Council At-large B Seat. He has the political know-how that is needed, and especially qualified where land use is concerned. I beieve that his knowledge and expertise would prove invaluable on the council.

In the Dark said...

History tells all,

Some of us are not aware of the incident that you refer to when Boss Godfrey was visiting European countries supposedly doing research for an ill-conceived flatland gondola. Please give us more information.

Curmudgeon said...

Dorrene:

On the Hof Fest: if it's to prosper again, and Ogden benefit all it could [beyond just providing residents with a crackin' good time in dreary January], it needs to come back downtown. The Golden Spike is not a good venue for this. It needs to be downtown.

wonderin said...

So anyone want to guess who didn't get their answers into the SE by the 1st, and hence led them to not print answers until the 10th?

Curmudgeon said...

Newspaper matters:

SE redesign is working significantly better now. Still some tweaking going on, but most of the major glitches of opening day seem to have been cleaned up. One consequence so far of the requirement to register to comment, and to log in each time, seems to be a huge reduction in comment traffic. This would be unfortunate if it continues, since the SE comment site was getting to be both active and lively. I understand the reason for registering --- to limit the racist comments from the mouth-breathing walking ignorant. But the SE register/log on system seems more cumbersome to use, and you have to use it more often than, say, the SL Trib system which, once you log on, you stay logged on for a long time, certainly at least a day, and so don't have to keep doing it so often. Be a shame if the SE register/log on to comment requirement ended up choking off the comment discussions.

Second: the SL Trib --- you remember the SL Trib, don't you? It's a paper that used to cover, sometimes, Ogden City news that didn't involve murder, fire or multiple crashed vehicles --- is running a survey on line that clearly portends the publisher charging for internet content. Lots of questions about what would you be willing to pay for and how much would you be willing to pay for it? Which of the following pay packages would you find most attractive --- e.g. fee for un-limited monthly access, or fee for unlimited daily access, or small fee to access a particular article, or fee for "enhanced" service [pix and content not available on the free site], or fee to access/reply to commentary and opinion, and so on.

I filled it out [hey, they're offering 1K raffle to take part]. One of the questions asked was did I think a print subscription should come with automatic [free] access to the paper's web content. Answer to that was not only "Yes" but "Hell, yes." Told them the day the asked me, a print subscriber to pony up extra bucks for on-line access would be the day I stopped being both a print and an on-line SLTrib reader.

But it's clear where they're going. Or trying to go. Most interesting to me was their thinking of putting in a small charge --- I imagine about 25 cents an item --- to view particular stories, columns, etc. So if you wanted to read Rolly's column on line, or Kirby's, your account would be charged say two bits. [They didn't list any particular amount. I'm figuring it would be about two bits. They said "small."]

Winds of change.... Hey, these are the people who endorsed G. Bush for re-election, and fired Holley Mullen, so I'm not overly confident they'll handle all this smartly. We shall see....

Jennifer Neil said...

Dear Wonderin'

I received Mr. Schwebke's email request with the questionnaire on August 18th. The opening paragraph went as follows:

The Standard Examiner will be running a primary election advance package in the paper of Thursday, Sept. 10. We would like to include your views about issues that are important to your community.

It seems they already had it planned that way, which in no way reflects who was late (past the Sept 1st deadline), since it was before the deadline date.

J Neil

RudiZink said...

Well that's some very interesting info, Ms. Neil. So the Standard actually planned to deprive early voters of important candidate information from the very get go.

Why am I NOT surprised to learn this?

Old Hof Winterfest fan said...

There have been dignitaries from Hof at nearly every Hof Winterfest since I can remember and I try to attend every year. They are usualky recognized in the first night's program. This past January at the festival, I sat at a table next to several gentlemen from Hof who were the equivalent of councilmembers in their form of government. From what I could figure out, they were accompanied by several Weber County Commissioners and Councilwoman Wicks.

The Hof Winterfesr should be in the center of the city, utilize Union Station and don't worry about providing space for craft booths that have nothing to do with German culture.

Dorrene Jeske said...

Curm,

I agee with you that the venue for the Hof Winter Fest needs to change. I stated that in my post and Charlie Trentelman said that Bob Bennett (American Linen Co.) wanted to see it moved to downtown Ogden. He even commented on the lack of interest for the festival from the current administration. Has to be Godfrey's way (idea) or no way!

I wonder if a letter to the editor campaign or an email to the Mayor and City Council would have any influence?

Dorrene Jeske said...

Apparently some council members have not been informed of visitors from Hof. Of course, last January, I could not have attended without someone taking me. But I wonder why these dignitaries are not honored or recognized by the Council, if Chair Wicks was aware that they were here? Seems to me that would be proper protocol.

Curmudgeon said...

Dorrene:

Interesting to know that some businessmen want the Hof Fest back downtown. Letter writing might be worth it. Can't hurt, certainly.

And I don't see how Ogden can lose by staging a January fest downtown. Christmas Village will be over by then, so no conflict there. Let's start talking it up and around and see if we can build some support for moving it to where people will notice it's happening. Maybe Charlie started something....

Dorrene Jeske said...

Curm,

Great idea! I'll contact Commissioner Craig Dearden to get an idea of how the Commission feels about moving it.

I think that it would be attended better if it were downtown Ogden.
I agree with "Old Hof Winterfest Fan" that Union Station should be the center of all indoor activities if possible.

Ray Vaughn said...

It would be very helpful if a display or video of the Hof gondola was available for viewing. Since this is not the mayors idea he will give it almost no support. Does a beverage garden sell root beer?

Dorrene Jeske said...

Ray,

The Mayor has NEVER supported the Hof Winter Fest even though the old festivals that were held under Scott Sneddon's direction, had outdoor sledding/ski hills, ice sculptures and other outdoor snow events. Those who attended, had a areally great time and except the years when it didn't snow, they were a great success in getting people downtown. As Curmudgeon noted, January is usually a "dead" month when nothing happens, so it great to have such an exciting event to which people can look forward. It is hoped that some of those actitities will return. You would think that the Mayor would be behind an event that brought people downtown. We'll have to bring that point to his attention.

Curmudgeon said...

Ahem.

I think moving the Hof Fest back downtown would be a good idea. It would certainly increase its visibility and thus, with a little judicious promotion thrown in, attendance. Could be a lot of fun. I've been to winterfests and winter carnivals in other places, and they were a hoot and a half.

However, that isn't going to happen in Ogden without the Administration's support. It just isn't. And so it might be better to approach the idea of a bigger January fest, held downtown, as an proposal on which the Mayor and those who've generally not supported him can find common ground --- as a project former gondolistas and anti-gondolistas can agree to work on, in tandem, for the good of the city --- to give residents and visitors a chance for a good time in a grey month, and 25th Street merchants a chance at more downtown foot traffic in a slow month. What's not to like?

Just sayin'....

history tells all said...

You guys will love this. There is no date on this but it has to be our lovely Mayor

For all those interested. Here is the article about our mayor and I think he has so splannin to do.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/09/world/europe/09iht-briefs.2431164.html

ROME: An American tourist was beaten by an angry mob in the streets of Naples after he chased down two men who had just stolen his camera, the police said Wednesday. The tourist, Matthew Godfrey, 25, of Utah, had chased two men who snatched his camera and fled on a scooter into a narrow alley when a group of local residents attacked him, allowing the muggers to escape, the police said. (AP)

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