This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The degree of paranoia among some users of the Internet never ceases to amaze me, especially when it deals with a mundane subject - not with sites asking for your bank card numbers or Social Security number. This e-mail from an out-of-state reader of the online Salt Lake Tribune at http://www.sltrib.com caused me to think about how readers experience The Trib online and what they think we are doing:
"I read the Trib almost daily; I don't live in Salt Lake City, but my children do. Today I got a 'registration' or information pop-up.
"I belong to a huge group of people on a Web site and we exchange lots of information. We discussed these registration pop-ups a while back and almost everyone puts in bogus information. We never put in our real info as we don't like to have anything about us in anyone's database.
"So when it popped up I did what I always do, I put in false info. If so many people are doing this, of what value is your info? It is erroneous data."
Our Web staff manager had me send this answer to the gentleman:
"We count on a certain percentage of registrations containing false information, but I don't understand why you would bother. The registration is completely voluntary and you can close the box without entering anything at all. Your access to sltrib.com will not be affected in any way."
The information we gather helps us - as it does other media that collect online data - figure out who is calling up The Tribune online and how they are using the material on the site. The more we know about readers, the better we can serve them.
The registration form asks for such basic information as ZIP code, gender, range of income and an e-mail address.
Good doggies: Another reader was concerned about The Tribune's small amount of coverage on his favorite dog race:
"Brain-dead, as your paper seems to be, there is no excuse for printing a mere 11 lines in the 'Sport Briefs' section on the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
"Michael Vick's dogs get 1,000 times more coverage for being misused and abused by an idiot dog owner. Catch a clue! [These] good dogs can pull a sled 120 miles a day for nine days straight (here to Des Moines plus the Rocky Mountains to boot) and are truly exceptional.
"Their feats are extraordinary. Their mushers are good, caring dog lovers. Their mutual respect for each other is harmony in motion.
"Pit bulls kill other pit bulls and their overlords and get worldwide news coverage. Dog fighters are the scum of the earth. Stop with the sensational coverage of stupid people doing vicious things to their dogs or give equal coverage to the good side. Please!"
Over the almost 15 years I have worked at The Tribune, the amount of coverage devoted to this famous Alaskan dog-sled race has varied from year to year. Sometimes it appears in the A Section and sometimes in Sports, but it does get covered.
The problem with carrying too much information on the race - especially when news holes are getting smaller and smaller - is that blow-by-blow coverage is available on several Web sites. All of the drama, self-sacrifice and action gets better treatment on the Internet, because it is difficult to describe in words what online video can show about a dog sled race often run through blizzards and icy conditions.
That kind of dramatic video usually is not available to demonstrate what kinds of terrible things people can do to animals, however. For instance, there will be lots of interest today in the story of the dog that was tossed off an Interstate 15 overpass and survived. There's plenty of human drama in the story of the woman who caught the dog and took it to the vet and the owner who has been reunited with her pet.
That kind of violent incident is the worst nightmare of pet owners - and, trust me, there are thousands of pet owners who read The Tribune every day.
* The Reader Advocate's phone number is 801-257-8782. Write to the Reader Advocate, The Salt Lake Tribune, 90 S. 400 West, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101. firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week's stats
* 45: Number upset over Sports section priorities
* 17: Number sick of violent crime coverage
* 21: Number who like Paul Rolly's column
* 3: Number sick of presidential race coverage