6 thoughts on “Wogen Charged with Domestic Battery”

  1. I don’t find it odd at all, because I grappled with the decision myself. We went all out on election-related behavior and character but it’s quite another thing to comment on the personal when there’s been no criminal conviction or other matter that is fair game in view of his role in government.

    In the end, I decided to leave the place open because of the quality of the CB readership and because I am a fairly conscientious moderator.

    There are people starting Wogen-related threads on other Chron articles, I see. One person is speculating whether Wogen will resign for personal reasons. The answer is NO. Check the CB archives for April, May and June 2007 if you doubt this.

  2. I do find it very odd. I fully understand why comments should not be allowed but….

    Where is the line drawn for what stories dealing with what people should be allowed to have comments. Should they have allowed comments for the 27 year old that ran from the cops the other day? We don’t know the whole story there. What about Firefighter Kurt Mathey from Sycamore. Why did they run the first couple of stories about him allowing comments or any stories running comments.

    I question truly is where is the line drawn. I know if something like this was to happen to one of us, the comments section would be open and would probably run longer than 7 days also in the Chronicle.

    I believe you did right Yinn because we must still consider all innocent until proven guilty and these blog comments can really get nasty but where is the line drawn today?

  3. After coming across this story in the DC, I decided to ask the Chronicle the reason WHY comments we’re not allowed on this particular story

    Here is the E-mail exchange I had with the DC: (Please note my E-mail was initially sent to the Author of the Story)


    From: August 19, 2009 2:10:54 AM

    I noticed an inconsistency in the On-line edition of the Daily
    Chronicle. Are you aware that comments on The Vic Wogen Story have been disallowed? Was this intentional? If so, can you explain the
    DC policy on this. What set of standards does the DC use to determine what stories cannot be commented on by your readers. I cannot locate the DC policy on this on your website. Would you be so kind as to enlighten me and quench my curiosity.


    Mark Charvat

    (Please note: My question was not answered by Kate, But was forwarded to the Editor of The DC… Kristen Schmidt who responded…see below)

    — On Wed, 8/19/09, Kristen Schmidt – SSM wrote:

    From: Kristen Schmidt – SSM
    Subject: Re: Fwd: DC Blog inconsistency
    To: m****@*****.com
    > Date: Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 9:38 AM


    Thanks for your note and for your question.

    We do disable the comment function on some stories online in
    some cases. Sometimes the story is published with comments
    disabled from the start; on other stories, we close the
    comments function if the conversation veers irreparably off
    course. I can think of a handful of examples of both

    The goal of the comment function is to allow visitors to have an
    open, largely unfettered discussion on public issues. Sometimes the conversation deteriorates into personal attacks and insults, and it is not

    Please feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail if you have
    further questions or comments.

    Best regards,

    Kristen Schmidt
    Editor, Daily Chronicle


    mark charvat writes:
    Hi Kristen-

    Thanks for the initial response to my question. However, you did not completely answer my question. The second part of your of your statement regarding closing the comments when the veer off course seems fair.

    My main question once again is :

    What set of ‘standards’ does the DC use to determine what stories cannot be commented on by your readers? (eg…stories where comments are disabled from the start)

    I am aware that this story’s comments were disabled from the start. As a long time Chronicle reader, I know this is rarely the case. Controversial stories in the past have always allowed on-line commentary in the past and the DC staff has been quite diligent in removing inappropriate comments (My compliments….).

    If you could shed a light as to why this particular story qualified as an exception or can point me to a link on your website that explains the reason I would greatly appreciate it



    Blog inconsistency Pt II Clarification
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 1:10 PM
    From: “Kristen Schmidt – SSM”


    The charges against Mr. Wogen were placed in a news story for one reason: He is a city alderman. Any other case like this, involving non-public figures, would not be addressed in the same way; similar cases are typically written in “brief” form in the police reports.

    I strongly considered the potential quality of public debate and conversation – focused on a public topic, not a personal issue – that could be had about this story. I considered the probability that the names of the victim and/or her children would be revealed in comments. We have exercised the no-comments a number of times, particularly in cases of domestic and/or sexual crimes, or in cases of traffic-crash deaths and/or critical injury. These conversations rarely focus on issues of public debate, but instead turn quickly to the demonization of one party or another.

    Based on these and other considerations, I decided to publish the story online without the option for comments.

    We do not have a written set of standards for making calls like these any more than we have a written set of standards for choosing which stories go on the front page and which ones go inside. Editors base these decisions on news judgment; I’ve tried to explain some of that thought process here.

    We are, however, in the process of considering revised rules for commenting. One of the options on the table is allowing comments only on stories about public issues – government, schools, public works projects, public safety, etc. We’ll let readers know about any changes before we make them; nothing is imminent.

    I stand by the decision in this case, and I welcome your criticism and commentary. You are welcome to write a letter to the editor on the subject.


    Kristen Schmidt
    Editor, Daily Chronicle


    My opinion:

    While I appreciate Ms Schmidt’s response to my E-mails, I am not satisfied with the Chronicle’s standards it uses to choose when and where the freedom of speech should be exercised and when it should be not.

    The Chronicle needs to explain it’s Policy in much better detail.

  4. OK, so at the Chron decisions about allowing comments are regarded as news judgments akin to selecting the stories.

    Do they select letters to the editor based on this, too? News judgment?

    This is interesting.

    When it comes to CB posts, I like to a) offer stories and perspectives nobody else is; b) write about things I suspect my readers would want to know; c) post things I suspect readers would like to discuss; and d) write about things I’m interested in and hope others are, too.

    When it comes to comments, I want a) informed people to come and offer up their unique takes and ideas. The more outside the realm of conventional thought, the better. Intellectually, I want to be stretched. Also I want b) to get a sense where the larger community is at on the issues.

    Where the twain meets is at civil interactions.

    For some reason, newspapers online don’t get this. They continue high standards for their articles and for their letters to the editor, while allowing a Wild West atmos in their forums.

    There are two ways to ensure a civil tone of discourse, which IMO leads to better discussions. One is to be very selective about the stories where you allow comments. The other is to moderate comments in a very strict manner.

    What has really worked well here at CB is that each person’s first comment goes into moderation. If the very first comment is approved, subsequent entries go through automatically but if not, the commenter is essentially shut out. Every once in awhile, I’ll see a very ugly sort of “drive by” first comment but if that never appears in print, the person moves on. It pretty much works out — not always, but almost always — that if the first comment is OK the rest will be OK, too.

    I have rarely moderated for staying on-topic as some moderators do. I’m usually OK with meandering a bit to see where things go. If we got 100 comments or more a day it would have to change but for now it’s fine.

  5. I am still ‘waiting’ for the “Chronicle” to print the letter to the editor I sent two months ago that they said they would print . . . Of course, Christmas will be here before that. ;-)

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