The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Columns

April 25, 2008

Forum constituency has to take action to have a real voice

Those of us in the media business have had to deal with a lot of changes over the years as we’ve embraced the Internet and adjusted products and content to meet the demands of an online community.

It’s safe to say the dynamics of communication in Enid have been changed due to the News & Eagle’s Web site, Enidnews.com. The Internet offers interactivity, but it also offers anonymity. We provide reader comments and reader forums where online readers get a chance to “have their say” on news stories or issues, and they can do it anonymously.

There are good and bad aspects to this, but it is the world of the Internet and providing this access serves a niche. It’s also a form of gathering the news.

It’s fascinating to me that because of Enidnews.com, a new constituency has been formed — the forum community. It’s a constituency many want to dismiss because of their anonymity; however, they’ve taken a first step and come out from behind their computers to address issues they think are important in the city of Enid.

A group of about 20 people — most of them Forum participants — met together Wednesday night to talk about their displeasure with the Enid city commission and their desire to start a recall of city commissioners and the mayor.

I’m not going to address the validity of that effort. Instead, I want to talk about the opportunity this provides for a whole new group of people to become involved in and more informed about their city government.

I have sometimes chastised the forum users for complaining or knee-jerk reactions to city actions. Sometimes, the forum people are well informed about what they’re talking about; but other times they haven’t been.

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