Finding the Web editor at MSNBC.com

Written by Adrian Holovaty on June 6, 2003

Find The Web Editor's Name And E-Mail Address Week continues. Yesterday, I had quite a bit of luck finding contact information on sacbee.com. Today I'll tackle MSNBC.com.

On the home page, I first check the left rail for any sign of "contact" or "about," then move to the bottom of the page. There, I spot the small text menu with links to, among other things, "Help" and "Write Us" -- plus something called "InfoCenter." (Whatever that is. Perhaps I'll have the satisfaction of finding out later.)

I decide "Write Us" is my best bet -- it's the option most directly related to the concept of contacting staff members -- so I click it.

The subsequent page greets me with a large graphic. I choose "How do I contact MSNBC.com?", which jumps me down the page several paragraphs. Alas, this page only lists generic e-mail addresses per site section: News, Business, Sports, etc. No names found. After scrolling down and back up the page in search of any other e-mail addresses, I give up on "Write Us" and click Back. Nothing appears to happen; then I realize I had clicked an in-page link earlier, and that click had incremented my browser's Back-button history even though my action hadn't technically loaded a new page. I hate it when that happens. I click Back a second time.

Now I'm back on the home page. I try "Help," but I quickly realize that that page is more focused on technical help than contact information. I click Back.

What's left? That "InfoCenter" thing. OK, I'll bite. The word had been intriguing me, anyway.

Aha! The InfoCenter appears to be a wealth of site-related information. I pause for a second to consider that this page calls it the "Information Center," whereas the home page (from which I accessed this) had listed it as "InfoCenter." Why the inconsistency?

I move my mouse over the "Contact us" header but realize it's not a link. Then I try that section's first bulleted item -- "Letters to the Editor" -- but it takes me to a page that lists the current letters to the editor, not methods of submitting them. I feel a bit misled. I click the Back button.

Now I try "Write us," which is the other link under "Contact us." Doh, that's a page I've already seen. Back.

Now, I look at the "About our Company" section, under which "About us" seems to be the only link that might help. I click that.

The resulting About us page is not helpful, despite the fact that it offers one piece of information: The site's editor in chief is named Dean Wright. I learn this because the page happens to feature a mission-statement-ish quote attributed to Mr. Wright. (Having worked at several Web sites in my day, though, I know how easy it is to forget to update information like this. If a new editor in chief were hired, would the staff immediately think to change this information? I'm reluctant to trust it.)

I'm a bit peeved at this point, so I rank the page a "1" in the "Would you recommend this story to other readers?" poll at the bottom of the page, out of spite. Doh! That takes me to a thank-you page, from which I click Back to get back on track. And I click Back again to the Information Center -- that cruel mistress.

I pause for a while to figure out exactly what I should do. "Business opportunities," under "Do Business with us," might have some staff information; I learned on Monday that this sort of page can indeed be helpful. OK, I click it -- but I come up empty-handed. Back.

Oh! I haven't clicked "FAQ'S" yet. Oh. Never mind. Back.

I'm burned out on the Information Center. It doesn't appear to have any else that could help me. I click Back to return to the home page, where nothing's left for me to try. I am a failure.

Please leave a comment if you've managed to find MSNBC.com's staff information. I give up. And I can't help thinking that, if MSNBC.com had followed the example of its corporate parent and featured a talking paper-clip helper in its product, perhaps none of this would have happened.

Comments

Posted by Julie on June 6, 2003, at 8:42 p.m.:

I give up too, but you and all the people who should be sending legal notices by mail to the editor-in-chief (as explicitly instructed on the "Write Us" page even though it *never* mentions his name) will be relieved to know that Dean Wright was only recently hired so there's a very good chance he's still your guy. Now if only we had that e-mail....

On the Site Help page (NewsStand target) we have Charles Tillinghast's e-mail listed as Charles.Tillinghast@MSNBC.com (mind you we have no title for Charles -- though a Google search reveals that he is or was at some point the Sr. Director of Business Development and Sales -- but we do have his name *and* e-mail...score!) so we could give Dean.Wright@MSNBC.com a shot. Then again, on the Chat page we are directed to send questions regarding connection problems to Will@msnbc.com. Tricky. Just try all the typical name formats; one of them is bound to be right ;)

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