The internet and social media have allowed a barrage of new information sources to emerge. Some old, traditional news sources no longer publish in the manner they used to, many have disappeared. What’s replaced them is publications like this one, digital news sources for Boca Raton. How are they the same and how are they different?
Websites: BocaWatch is a website. It’s therefore an information source, a publication. Some have referred to it as a “blog”. The term blog is short for web log, and was a way of referring to websites for people who were publishing digital diaries: content entries over time. Website are owned by either a person, a business or an organization. Websites are published on the Internet, located by visitors with a domain name, exclusively registered, reserved and paid for by the publisher.
Publishers: Whoever owns a website is referred to as the website’s publisher, in the same way someone who owns a newspaper or TV station is a publisher. In the case of this website Al Zucaro is the publisher of this website and the domain name used by this website is BOCAWATCH.ORG. However, the website itself is owned by a non-profit organization Mr. Zucaro is the chief officer, BocaWatch Official, Inc. It’s this entity that’s the owner of the domain and the copyright holder for the content within. Mr. Zucaro acts as the publisher because he’s taken on the responsibility and cost of having the buck stop with him.
Articles: Articles published on BocaWatch get their own web page – each article has its own unique web address. The stories published here span a wide range of topics all pertaining to Boca Raton, and they’re generally about news, so we don’t refer to them as blog posts. The term blog post refers more to the ongoing digital diary of one person and the closest thing we have to that here are the articles written by this site’s publisher, Al Zucaro, categorized as Publisher’s Opinion. People have referred to BocaWatch as Al Zucaro’s blog. That’s one way to label it, but it’s really a lot more than just Al Zucaro’s blog, because he’s published articles from pretty much everyone who’s wanted to contribute. So it’s more useful to think of it as Al Zucaro’s stone soup.
Authors: Other authors to articles frequently contribute to BocaWatch. In each case the author is identified. Some publications might name a group as an article’s author, for example Sun Sentinel’s Editorial Board, but that doesn’t inform readers which exact individuals were part of that group, part of writing that specific article. Naming a group rather than an individual means anyone could be part of the group, a source, collaborator, stakeholder, or even making a financial contribution linked to the content of the article. Naming a single individual as an author doesn’t mean they didn’t receive help, but it does mean there’s always one person who will put their credibility on the line as a source for accurate information.
Editor: I help a lot of people with their articles when they’re published. Most of the time this means choosing or creating an illustration that matches the story. If I don’t understand what the author is trying to say I’ll ask for clarification. Sometimes I’ll add some context for the reader but I do my best not to modify the messages authors intend. It’s unrealistic for things being published to be 100% free from the biases of their publisher or from an editor, from me, even doing my best not to be biased. So rather than apologize for it I’ll just warn you, the reader, that it exists and welcome you to express your own via comments and by giving me articles of your own to publish. Call me out for my bias. Tell me where I’m being unfair or wrong. I’d rather know I was wrong than think I was right and not be. Comments on BocaWatch are yours to make.
Comments: Unlike television, print or radio, the web offers a lot more chance for consumers to interact with their information sources. In those traditional medias channels information flows one way. In the first years of the web, in the 90’s, websites operated the same way – very few offered the means for people to interact. Now, websites that consider their visitors their most important stakeholders all have features where visitors can comment on articles.
Comments make the information flow two ways, so website visitors like you aren’t just being told what an article’s author thinks – there’s an opportunity to ask questions and share contrary opinion, an opportunity for honest debate. It takes a certain kind of publisher to facilitate such honesty: someone moderating the comments who welcomes contrary opinion and has a high degree of tolerance for petty nonsense and being personally “attacked”. It takes a certain kind of publisher, a certain kind of article author, to feel comfortable engaging with readers in the comments.
I’ve been told by certain people who lean more towards unidirectional flow of information, that engaging with visitors on articles in inappropriate. That’s an opinion. I don’t feel that way. I feel like engaging with readers encourages the discussion and if I didn’t enjoy discussion I wouldn’t be doing this. Al Zucaro is a natural at publishing just like some people are naturals at sports or visual arts, and he grasps the unique potential of web 2.0 being part of a community of more informed people. So he engages with visitors on articles too – he seems to like it as much as I do. Very few local publishers do the same and typically when they do it’s via another person or as the faceless brand name of their publication, not as themselves identified by their own name.
Comments on BocaWatch are moderated. This means someone looks at them to make sure they’re OK, that they don’t contain anything too profane in them. Up until now 99% of the comments visitors have submitted have been published. It’s very rare someone comments in a way that ends up having their comment ignored. Instances where comments have become repetitive or it seems like the commenter is intentionally being annoying in a non-constructive manner have resulted in comments being ignored.
If you mess up a comment and need to correct something just submit it again and we’ll delete the initial instance. Moderation is manual, not automatic, so often there’s a delay between when a comment is posted and when you might see it on the website. Although we try to turn around comments submitted as fast as we can we cannot guarantee when a comment will get processed. Squeaky wheel gets the oil.
Social Media Presences: The rise of web 2.0 technology made it easier for businesses and people to establish what used to be referred to as “micro sites” or presences on other people’s publications. Facebook is at the top 2019’s highest market capitalized brands – worth more than the two biggest TV conglomerates combined. Facebook.com, a digital-only publication that lets people like you and me easily upload and share our own content, our own videos, photos and words. Even traditional broadcasters, for example local television channels, have adopted the use of Facebook.
Profiles: acting as your self v Pages: acting faceless as a brand
A person uses Facebook through a Facebook Profile, but businesses have a different kind of presence called a Facebook Page. When an individual who isn’t referring to their business presence talks about their “Facebook Page” they’re using the term incorrectly. People don’t get Facebook pages unless they’re some kind of celebrity or political figure where they themselves are the solo face of their brand. A good way to spot the difference between Profiles and Pages is that you can become Friends with a Profile (person) but you can’t with a Page. You can only “Like” a Page. Here is BocaWatch Official’s Facebook Page.
There are other websites that also have information about Boca Raton, FL. Some of these news sources also publish news stories under their brand name to different forms of media, for example Boca Tribune prints their news on paper and to their website. A popular local TV channel, WPTV, has a website, WPTV.com, that features stories that are broadcast on television. BocaWatch only publishes content online and does not have a print, television or radio channel – BocaWatch is only a local information website. Once an article gets published on BocaWatch.org we follow the best-practice of keeping it published in perpetuity.
Because BocaWatch.org is only a website it could go away overnight. Only through the generosity and effort of Mr. Al Zucaro has BocaWatch been published so far, remained published online. The articles contained here have information that’s valuable to the historical record of Boca Raton, a window in time where acute examination of politics combined interactions from the community. BocaWatch, a triple digit collection of articles, led by experimenting with digital media as a means to stimulate political involvement and keep Boca Raton informed. There are some things you can do to help keep BocaWatch online.
Support: The best way to support BocaWatch is to simply share information you think is valuable for your community to know. Inform people by writing articles, and we’ll publish them here, or just engage in the comments section of articles when they’re published. The newer the articles are, the more likely your comment will motivate others to engage in discussion too. Believe it or not, sentiment that’s contrary to the options contained in articles is very welcome here.
You can support BocaWatch by sharing stories you like to your social media profiles, to Facebook or to Twitter for example. Copy a web address of an article on BocaWatch, and try pasting that web address of the article into a new Facebook Post. That’s called “sharing a link on social media.” When you share a link like this it often makes an image from the article and the article’s title automatically appear in your post. Those little colorful buttons at the end of this article do the same thing, but with less effort.
Donations: You can donate money to BocaWatch. Donations go directly towards costs of publication.
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