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February 9th, 2003:

Cheney can keep his secrets

In case you didn’t notice, the GAO dropped its lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney over his Top Secret Energy Meetings from 2001, so we’ll never get to know if they did in fact play Five Minutes In The Closet With Ken Lay or not. Bummer.

OK, that’s a good reason

In my last entry, I took a potshot at the Chron‘s letters page:

When they print a letter that’s in response to a news article, editorial or prior letter, would it kill them to link to the original piece? At least news articles are searchable on their site without having to go into the archives, but everything on the op-ed pages disappears the next day unless you bookmark it. This seems like such a no-brainer to me.

This prompted the following response from my buddy Matt in the comments:

As the former head of technology at chron.com, I’ll give you the answer.

It wouldn’t kill them (of course), but it would require a human editor to do by hand and would be too much work to be worth doing.

Let’s do some back-of-the-envelope estimates. The editor would have to look up the URL for the original letter, then make the link. This might take a few minutes per letter – say three. The Chron prints perhaps fifteen letters per day. That’s 45 minutes of editor time per day, or about 5 1/2 hours per week – about one fourth of a full time employee.

This work could be justified if there were enough additional advertising revenue to support it, and there wasn’t something more valuable for those editors to do. With Internet advertising being what it is these days, you can certainly understand why there aren’t links there.

That’s a fair answer. I admit, I hadn’t given any real thought to the logistics. So I retract that criticism.

Now if they’d only let op-ed page stuff be searchable on the main site for as long as the average news story is, I’d be really happy.