Stephen Cvengros discusses the Syracuse Media Group's editorial mission
11:47
syracuse.com: 
Thanks for joining us. Our live Q&A with Stephen Cvengros will start at noon, but you can begin leaving questions now.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 11:47 syracuse.com
11:57
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Good morning, I'm in the chat room and we are going to get started in a few minutes. Send your questions and thanks for joining me. Stephen
Wednesday January 29, 2014 11:57 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:00
[Comment From OrangeChuckOrangeChuck: ] 
What do you enjoy most about Syracuse and what do you think are the areas they need to be improved first and foremost?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:00 OrangeChuck
12:01
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Orange Chuck,
Thanks for your question. I believe the city needs to revitalize downtown and it's on its way. I lived in a few other cities where police presence was stronger. I would like to see us get those open police jobs filled and on the street. PS. I love living near downtown, the University and how close the rural areas are.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:01 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:01
[Comment From fredfred: ] 
Recently the daughter of the local DA was arrested for DWI in Liverpool.Other news agencies in the area covered the story...but not a word from Syracuse Media of the arrest or plea bargain. Did you think it was not newsworthy....or were you requested to not report the incident?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:01 fred
12:03
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Fred,
We did print the arrest in our police agate just like everyone else. We choose not to make it into a larger story unless it turned into that that with impropriety. We did not see any favoritism to reflect on DA performance. We were not requested to not report it. That was a newsroom decision that she was not the public figure.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:03 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:03
[Comment From 20 Something20 Something: ] 
While The Post-Standard has reduced its article count, original content and even the number of pages in the editions it now publishes on a vastly reduced schedule, other newspapers in Rochester, Albany, and White Plains have responded to changes in the industry by doing the opposite. Over the past year, these publications have increased coverage on key beats including education, business, and investigative reporting by hiring additional reporters and adding more pages in their editions which are still published daily. The Syracuse Media Group has taken a much different approach to generate revenue by hiring “page producers” whose sole objective is to locate sensational stories published by other news organizations and post them on Syracuse.com with attention grabbing headlines meant to generate clicks and illicit comments with the goal of driving more ad revenue. I understand your business model and realize the newspaper needs to generate revenue in order to deliver content to its readers, however do you plan to any changes to address what some believe has been a decline in quality, content, and commitment to the local community?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:03 20 Something
12:06
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi 20 something,
It is natural that in a reduced size of publication there will be less pages, reports, etc. We've targeted the best topics, those that are key to our audience. This ranges from international news to local news. And, we also cover entertainment as a number of our users are interested -- local and national. This is much the same as previous coverage.

Regarding headlines: Brrrrr! It's always been our business to get headlines that grab the reader.

You should expect changes to evolve us more rapidly into the digital age on Syracuse.com. I don't see it as a decline in quality but rather a strengthening in a new information age.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:06 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:07
[Comment From ChairmanAL10ChairmanAL10: ] 
Greetings, SteveWhen it comes to setting policies, how much contention is there between the different editors? Are the meetings fairly monotonous with a general sense of agreement, or can they get heated due to opposing views?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:07 ChairmanAL10
12:09
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Chairman AL10,

I am assuming you are talking about our editorial board. We have differences of opinion. Some topics we are more aligned, some less. We do reach consensus without bloodshed. I will assure you they are not monotonous we have a broad range of opinions and POVs.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:09 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:09
[Comment From Rudy BRudy B: ] 
What are political parties do the Editorial Board members, all five, belong to?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:09 Rudy B
12:11
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Rudy B,

Journalists don't give up their rights to be a citizen. I would urge you to feel free to look through records if you need this info. I don't know what the other Editorial Board members are and I don't ask. It's their business.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:11 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:12
[Comment From liberalrcommunistsliberalrcommunists: ] 
Has there been a political endorsement made by the Post Standard that have since regretted making?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:12 liberalrcommunists
12:13
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Lib...,
We have had a few that we regretted. And if we went back and looked through the archives, probably a few more. We aren't perfect. We work diligently to assure we have examined the requisite facts and make our best judgment in the info at hand.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:13 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:14
[Comment From 888er888er: ] 
These may be for your IT Group but have a few questions perhaps you could answer 1 or more– 1- Is it possible to have individuals that flag others posts to have the numbers tallied on that persons profile for all to see or perhaps have that individual allude to where the offense was taken? 2- 2 – would it be possible for a person to check his profile and see if a response was made 3- Even if you charged a small fee via a pay wall, it would moderate things some what 4- Is there a way, when you are having a problem with the system, such as uploads, or overuse and slow a simple bullet appear on the story line or a separate page where all could turn to to see if a problems is occurring? Thanks 888er
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:14 888er
12:16
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi 888er,

Some good ideas in there. We are going to take away those we haven't considered and look at how your ideas might help make our the commenting area better. Some we are already looking into.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:16 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:16
[Comment From Tony SabatinoTony Sabatino: ] 
Prior to joining the Syracuse Media Group, you previously worked in the Seattle area for MSN.com, a website that contains links to other media organizations or sister portals and offers little to no original content. To a large degree, the objective of MSN.com (at least from my position as a reader) is to generate traffic to the stories by resorting to tabloid style headlines one would typically find on websites like TMZ, NY Post, and NY Daily News. Over the past six months, I have noticed a gradual shift in the reporting style and format of Syracuse.com. Headlines have become misleading and in some cases insulting to the intelligence of the readers. Recent examples include “Marcellus town to village: want to be roomies” and yesterday’s whopper from an intern reporter from California asking readers “Why are you still here” regarding a report on the outmigration of residents from NYS. Is this style of reporting the new normal for Syracuse.com? Is it possible to drive traffic to the website while still maintaining a modicum of journalistic standards?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:16 Tony Sabatino
12:21
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Tony,

Thanks for asking this. We created a great deal of original traffic at MSN News when I was there. The style of successful internet news should not be sensational, but should not fully give the story away in a headline. Our job is to get you to read.

Journalistically, I have no problem with the "Why are you still here headline.' It was a little provocative but the story was right on and met standards based on data.

Our job is to get you to read journalism. We will continue to do that. Remember the web is not the newspaper. However, think of the headline promos much as the promos above the nameplate on the paper. We write those to make you turn the page. We write heads on the Homepage to make you click. We believe what we deliver is all worth it.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:21 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:21
[Comment From OrangeChuckOrangeChuck: ] 
What are your views on one of the most controversial sections of this site, the comment section? Do you think comments should be left anonymously or any plans to change that? I hear many say the one reason they dislike the site or complaints is that people can hide behind fake names when making scathing comments.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:21 OrangeChuck
12:23
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Orange,

We have no plans to change anonymous commenting. We would love it if users started their own push to sign in with their actual names and urged others to do the same. Bottom line is we want to provide an environment for commenters to state their peace in a courteous manner no matter the controversy.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:23 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:24
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Editor's correction: Piece not Peace.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:24 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:24
[Comment From Rudy BRudy B: ] 
Please explain the political endorsement process? Why have it, are all five involved, who formulates the questions to the candidates?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:24 Rudy B
12:27
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Thanks Rudy,

We only endorse contested races. We interview candidates together, each bringing our own questions. The whole Editorial Board may not sit in on every meeting but we do discuss who we will endorse as a group and reach consensus. We can't cover everything so we choose the races or propositions that are city wide, county wide or have the most impact. We actually publish why we endorse. I'll look for it to add later.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:27 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:27
[Comment From Rudy BRudy B: ] 
Who are the conservatives and republicans on the editorial board? None as far as I can see?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:27 Rudy B
12:29
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Rudy,

We continue to maintain our choice to not publicly discuss this. I will say I'm confident there are conservative voices and thinking in discussions.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:29 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:29
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Why was ever comment referencing to the DA's daughter arrest quickly removed? Even questions asking 'why no coverage?' were deleted in minutes. The daughter of an elected official was arrested and it received no coverage (aside from being tucked awa in the police reports, as you said), yet when another random individual is charged with the same crime there is a whole right up and users are open to comment at will. This certainly shows reverse favoritism.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:29 Guest
12:31
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Guest,

They were removed because where we found them was "off topic." There were attempts to derail the comments on stories unrelated. It makes no sense for us to say we are not going to single out for special attention and then let others use our forum to do this on their own.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:31 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:31
[Comment From HarlandHarland: ] 
Why are the races of subjects often (always) not included in reports by syr.com? Particularly when the subject or suspect is black? Other news agencies report as 'a black male in his late 20s' where syr.com will just report 'male in 20s'.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:31 Harland
12:33
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Harland,

We do include race when it is part of a detailed description. For example: "A black man with medium build" is not going to help find the culprit. What happens often is that white suspects are not identified as white. There are "suspects" and there are "black suspects." We have included race where it was part of a useful or critical description.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:33 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:33
[Comment From JohnJohn: ] 
When the transition to a thrice weekly publishing schedule was announced in late 2012, readers were told that single sale copies available for purchase in retailers in Onondaga County would still be available, however the success of this initiative would be monitored. What's the status of this evaluation? Will the smaller, single copy publications printed on Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sat continue to be published?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:33 John
12:35
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi John,

Right now and in the foreseeable future we intend to continue those single copy dates. It has seemed to find a steady audience that wants the paper everyday and will go to corner stores and boxes to buy it.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:35 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:35
[Comment From HarlandHarland: ] 
What is the policy regarding the removel of comments made by users? Seems this place for 'first amendment rights' only functions if the moderators agree with their own point of view and own interests. Often times comments that simply disagree or question the writer are removed. They are no offensive or inappropriate, just ones that presently a differing of opinions.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:35 Harland
12:38
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Harland,

Removals are never because of a difference of opinion with SMG. There is usually something else in the comment that violates our community rules. Let me urge you to comment without name calling, or being disrespectful. Each of our reporters would say the site is replete with comments critical of the writer of the story.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:38 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:38
[Comment From KarlKarl: ] 
Are there any efforts to beef up coverage of business news? Two dedicated reporters is a rather small amount of resources. The decision to shutter the Business Exchange Magazine and discontinue publishing vital data on various economic indicators has been a major disappointment.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:38 Karl
12:40
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Karl,

We have business coverage from more than just the two reporters assigned to cover it full time. Many reporters pick up business stories in the communities or on their varying beats. Think about government, entertainment and even sports reporters. But good suggestion thanks. Right now, if you look at our Business cover on the site, we have six different sources delivering news.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:40 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:41
[Comment From SedgwckSedgwck: ] 
Can you define who the target reader/online user is? Is this new wave of content being developed to target a working class person with a 9th grade education?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:41 Sedgwck
12:43
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Sedgwck,

Our target audience is everyone who can read coming onto the web for our digital product. For our newspaper, it is everyone who can read. We love working class people. We want to find a place for people of all education levels. Being inclusive is key for us.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:43 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:44
[Comment From JimJim: ] 
The newspaper on Sunday, particularly the business section, is a rehash of stories that appeared on syracuse.com during the week. What gives?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:44 Jim
12:47
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Jim,

It is not entirely a rehash of news from the week. However, when you put out a newspaper on Sunday, you do some advance sections. Business is one of those. We include any breaking business news in the A-section. Those of you who have adapted to the digital age, may run into this from time to time. We thank you for your loyalty to both products. But the reverse of the question would be: Why didn't I see that business story on your digital site when it happened. They each have different timings that force us to be as current as we can -- which sometimes causes this duplication.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:47 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:47
[Comment From Active CitizenActive Citizen: ] 
I have been to several school board and town and village meetings that there were no Syracuse.com people present. Coverage if any was based upon a press release from the government body. While you can't be everywhere, how do you decide what meetings are covered, and what is important about the meeting?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:47 Active Citizen
12:49
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Active Citizen,

There are dozens of those types of meetings everyday. Nobody, not even the dedicated weeklies can get to all of them. We keep in touch with our contacts to cover the most important and interesting actions. If you know something, please reach out to us citynews@syracuse.com. All reporters emails are also right on their stories. We've had dozens of scoops on important local government stories over the past year.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:49 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:50
[Comment From Ronnald G.Ronnald G.: ] 
As a big part of the local community, do you feel you SMG should take initiative in pressing for more truth when it comes to stories affecting our community? Whether its getting the most information regarding crimes, new community projects or proposals, or news in general? Too often it seems stories are a quick summary with no incite, follow up or demand from answers on the part of the journalist.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:50 Ronnald G.
12:53
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Ronnald,

Take a look at how we covered the proposed stadium story: We flushed it out into the open. Broke many stories along the way. Started a public conversation where there was none. We are committed to ensuring critical stories around crime, community projects and key proposals have the right examination.

Remember we revealed the secret plan to close the local Lockheed Martin plant. That led to ours being saved while other communities lost their plants.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:53 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:54
[Comment From Music fanMusic fan: ] 
On January 18, JCC Hosted the "Battle of the Bands" at The Spot in Shoppingtown. In the past, The Syracuse Newspapers sponsored the event and featured it in the Weekend section. This year, only a small article on Friday, and no follow-up about who won. Since you sponsored the event (your reporter Chris Baker was one of the judges), why no follow-up and such low key coverage for the premier high school band competition in Syracuse?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:54 Music fan
12:54
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Music Fan,

We were glad to promote and participate in the event. If we didn't have the results that's a good point and I'll check on it.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:54 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:57
[Comment From liberalsrcommunistsliberalsrcommunists: ] 
Why hasn't the Editorial Board commented about Congressman Dan Maffei's lack of open town hall meetings?
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:57 liberalsrcommunists
12:59
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi Lib...,

We appreciate you proposing areas for us to examine. He's up for election this year and that seems to be the perfect opportunity to examine his record on that front. This ground has been covered quite a bit in our news coverage. Maybe it is time to comment from editorial board.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:59 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
12:59
[Comment From 888er888er: ] 
Stephen - It may be a good idea for you at the end to put a tally up of the questions you received. I can foresee some of your biggest detractors on here later today commenting below their question was not addressed because of some perceived bias when I never submitted a question
Wednesday January 29, 2014 12:59 888er
1:01
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Hi 888er,

I tried to take the toughest questions and choose one from everyone. We didn't get them all. I appreciate you and everyone who tossed a question to me participating. Thanks for your support of SMG.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 1:01 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
1:01
syracuse.com: 
That's all we have time for, folks. Thank you for joining us and for your thoughtful questions.
Wednesday January 29, 2014 1:01 syracuse.com
1:02
Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG: 
Thanks again. Don't forget everyone we are looking for great examples for our "What Works" Project. People making a difference in the community and really having an effect. http://www.syracuse.com/what-works
Wednesday January 29, 2014 1:02 Stephen Cvengros, VP Content SMG
 
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