Nothing, it seems, gets people’s dander up as much as kittens in peril.
Our sister paper, the Massapequa Observer, last week told of the Town of Oyster Bay closing a nonprofit no-kill cat rescue shelter for code violations, after neighboring businesses complained about odor.
The tale has brought our offices a flood of calls from across Nassau—Massapequa to Mill Neck, Floral Park to Farmingdale, Port Washington to Plainview. Our two stories on the rescue shelter’s closing have unleashed a torrent of comments—some in support of the shelter, some in support of the businesses (but all in support of the kittens)—on the Massapequa Observer Facebook page (www.facebook.com/massapequaobserver). Passionate pleas for animal welfare mingle with calls for the business owner to correct code violations. It’s a lively debate with many points of view and at times it gets contentious — and we couldn’t be happier about hosting a platform for the public.
Social media has afforded us, and other news outlets, the opportunity for direct engagement with our readers. Gone are the days when snail mail was the only way for your voice to be heard by your town’s local editor. Also gone are the days when your local editor had to decipher your — ahem, dynamic — handwriting. Now, your voice is heard the instant you click ‘send,’ whether it be in an email or on Facebook or Twitter. And we, as a news organization, encourage this. Your voice adds depth to our stories and ensures that the perspective of Floral Park residents are represented. It keeps the conversation going long after the ink dries on our papers.
This animal rescue story perfectly illustrates how public feedback advances a story beyond the initial conflict and beyond the control of the central players: the businesses, the shelter volunteers and town officials. The online conversation brings out into the open community views that formerly would not have been heard.
Besides commenting online or by phone, readers have gravitated toward a poll we posted asking what people would like local government to do about Long Island’s feral cat population. As of press time, 41 percent vote to neuter and release these wild felines, while 35 percent want the town to find them all homes. Twelve percent suggest the town simply kill them.
If you consider yourself an old-school news reader and prefer the fold and feel of an actual newspaper, we are right there with you. We are in the business of print journalism and our papers will always offer more context than is available online. Send us a letter! We love them. But remember the many other avenues for making your voice heard. Come visit us on the web, at www.antonnews.com/floralparkdispatch or on the Floral Park Dispatch’s Facebook page and comment, share, and tell us how you feel. Join the arena where the conversation is ongoing and the news is interactive.
Just try to keep the personal attacks to a minimum.