Posts Tagged ‘Rick Thames’

Charlotte Observer reverses e-mail request

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Charlotte Observer Editor Rick Thames said Monday the paper would shelve its request for local residents’ e-mail addresses. “While we did not view these invitations as a ‘commercial use’ of the e-mail lists, we respect the concerns of those who did,” he wrote on his Inside Story blog.

People registered with the Charlotte/Mecklenburg County website received  an e-mail last week explaining that the newspaper had requested the e-mail list and that, because of the state’s open records law, the local government had to provide the names. The request came from the newspaper’s director of strategic products and audience development.

Media critics, this blog included, complained about the move, suggesting that the ability to gather public information for profit is not the point of the state’s hard-won open records laws.

Thames said Monday the paper wanted the addresses “to invite citizens’ input on news coverage” and that they have other ways to do that.

So, is there where we all call them weenies now for backing down?

Elsewhere, Charlotte/Mecklenburg County notified its subscribers that it will seek legislation that would allow it to deny requests for e-mail databases and instead allow only public inspection of this information. Wake and Yadkin counties already have such exemptions.

E-mail info request for ‘better journalism’

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Update: Scott Hepburn, a Charlotte-based PR consultant, social media strategist, trainer and public speaker, explains in his Media Emerging blog why the Charlotte Observer’s grab of private citizens’ e-mail addresses is wrong.

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Charlotte Observer Editor Rick Thames is defending the newspaper’s collection of what WFAE FM says is more than 20,000 e-mail addresses from Charlotte-Mecklenburg County.

“I’m using them to build better journalism,”  Thames told the radio station. “I think it’s good for the community, but I don’t see it as (benefiting the paper) anymore than it is for people in real estate to have records of home sales. Do you?”

People registered with the city/county website got an e-mail this week explaining that the newspaper had requested the e-mail list and that, because of the state’s open records law, the local government had to provide the names. The request came from the newspaper’s director of strategic products and audience development.

Thames says they want to ask people “if they would like to occasionally advise us on how we’re reporting and what they would like to know more from their government and more about their community.”

Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett calls the request “a blatant misuse of the ‘right-to-know’ laws by a for-profit company that is looking to expand its readership.”

(We were clued in to WFAE’s work on this by @McClatchyWatch.)