NZ Herald and moderation

The Herald website is carrying an interactive story this morning on the changes in the ethnic make up of different decile schools in the country. I will leave it up to others to discuss the content of the story. But there are two social media related elements that are of interest.


At 7:40 this morning the Herald tweeted the following:


And the front page of at 0800 has the following:


However the way the story appeared in my RSS was very different:


This fits with how it was being carried on the front page of the print edition:


So why the change from the headline used in the print edition, and as late as 5am this morning, and the headline being used at 7:40am this morning? Did they not see how inflammatory the headline could be seen as? Well I think they did know, but they still used it.


On both the RSS feed snippet and the article itself there was the following message:


If they were planning on allowing comments, why not do some from 5am when the story went live? Is it because they expect the comments to be of a nature that will require heavy moderation? Could it be that the type of comments they are expecting  are coming about because of the way they have framed the story? There is a debate to be had around the question of media websites allowing comments or not. However the fact that they feel the need to wait for their moderators to be there, to maintain decency, to before they open the comments does not sit well.  They can see what is going to happen, but I have a feeling they will see the response as a way to drive traffic to the site.


While I have been writing this post I was checking the Herald website for a number of things. It looks like they have changed the online headline again:


So it appears that they still can’t make up their mind which headline they want to run. Nor do they seem willing to actually open the comments:


The Herald have shown that they are able to generate headlines for this story that are less inflammatory than what they have used, but their judgement around how they run their commenting is questionable. If they feel the need to wait for moderators to be around before they open the comments, then maybe opening the comments isn’t the best idea?



I have been sent a image of the double page spread of the print edition of the story. There are a two places pointing readers at the website to obtain more information. But the intention would also be to get people to comment on the story and drive views from people coming to see the questionable comments that it appears that the Herald were preparing for.

NZ Herald White flight

It is now 9am and the comments still don’t appear to be open on the story:


The Herald have taken the approach of using inflammatory headlines to generate views, while also preparing for comments that they knew were going to be questionable in nature. Yet they appear to have backed out of opening the comments. The issue is they have shown that they are willing to try and use questionable headlines to generate engagement.