Today, the hometown paper decided to discontinue their Sound Off feature from their op-ed section. What began as a forum for readers to anonymously speak their minds on various local & national issues, regardless of topic or circumstance has, in the eyes of Charlie Kraebel, managing editor of The Record and its sister publication, The Saratogian, deteriorated into a lot of nasty back-&-forth sniping. People call in and blame former President Obama for a lot of what's going on. Others will defend President Trump to the bitter end, despite the obvious shortcomings the current Commander-in-Chief has mere months into his administration.
On the local level, some callers can't be bothered to refer to WGDJ owner-afternoon host Paul Vandenburgh by name, but rather "Mr. Talk 1300", and complain about the content of his show. Others rant about hometown politics, including the current imbroglio about the closing of local pools, shutting out the kiddo's from what had been a safe sanctuary for their parents in past years. That's where the abuse of the forum really begins. I've read entries on a regular basis complaining about Time Warner (Now Spectrum) Cable. These people call just for the sake of venting on nonsense. It's always been my belief that if you've got an issue with something not connected to the paper, then call, say for example, the cable company, rather than take up space with what amounts to clutter.
Kraebel is encouraging readers to e-mail the papers, to bolster Pulse of the People. I've been a frequent contributor to Pulse, which is where I dubbed the callers as the Whiner Squad. My goal was to draw feedback, preferably in print, from these callers. The response was like my attempts at fishing in the 80's----bad. A bite here and there, but that's about it. But, watch. the whiners will want their pulpit back, because some of them don't have internet access and thus don't have e-mail. Hey, you made your bed, now lie in it. You want to vent? Hit the library and learn how to use a computer, if you ain't got one at home or work.
The upside for the papers is that the space reserved for the Whiner Squad now can be used for other editorials and/or ads. For what it's worth, my brother, who works in the advertising department at The Record, had the task of transcribing the calls for publication. At least now he doesn't have to deal with the Whiner Squad, and that will ease his mind.