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"Comments" section for stories: Why are they allowed?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by usedtoBinthebiz, Aug 26, 2008.

  1. I fired off another e-mail to the editor of my pretty good hometown newspaper, The Idaho Statesman. While I like the print version, their online version is awful, sloppy, and wreckless. Why? Because of the "comments" section which has anonymous readers firing off sexist, racist, and mean-spirited comments that would never make a letters to the editor section.

    I e-mailed the editor, Vicki Gowler, my second one as the first one didn't receive a response. I will probably send a letter to the editor through the mail to get my point across.

    Today's latest "comments" from the unedited online version of The Idaho Statesman? The Boise State University English professor who died in last night's fire which took out nine houses? According to one sub-human reader who commented, she deserved what she got. Of course this wasn't touched, wasn't deleted, wasn't edited by The Statesman? It's just a free for all, let all slimeball comments run for the sake of more cyber-hits.

    Why not strive for quality, not quantity? The high-class steakhouse isn't selling Big Macs to get more customers, why should a pretty good newspaper go down the slippery slope of awful "comments' in their online version?

    I don't expect them to respond to my e-mail.
  2. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    wreckless? ;)

    Comments sections are pure bullshit 99 percent of the time.
  3. greenlantern

    greenlantern Guest

    We got the same thing recently when a 17-year-old high school football player was killed in a car accident at 2:30 a.m. People were calling his parents the worst parents in the world and saying the kid got what he deserved for drinking and driving. Funny since the story never mentioned alcohol. Thank God we have moderators who quickly deleted those comments. Some people just shouldn't be allowed near a computer. Ever.
  4. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    usedtobeinthebiz, as another guy who used to be in the biz, I feel you. I'm told a paper I know well and love had to sit in a meeting and listen to someone talk about how "free flowing" comments were a great way to drive readership.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Also, lawyer types say that if you get in the business of editing comments then you are exerting control of and therefore responsibility for said comments.

    So a lot of newspaper websites only take reader comments down if they are flagged by others first.

    Plus I'm sure it's a lot of work to remove all the stupidity.
  6. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    The business is sinking to the point where it is an unmoderated message board.
  7. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    It's part of the ongoing trend to cower in fear of the consumer. We're abdicating our rightful role as experts, and we're allowing Everyman to clutter the marketplace with filth.
  8. Diabeetus

    Diabeetus Active Member

    What Ace said.
  9. What do the comments have to do with the content of the paper?

    Why can't you just, you know, not read them?

    Why do we have all these stupid commercials?!?

    What's with all these previews before the movie?!?

    Why is there a sticker on the CD I just bought, I don't care if Rolling Stone gave it five stars!
  10. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I think if you required people to give their e-mail addresses to the site (but not shown) newspapers would be better able to block e-mails from trolls.
    I've seen many more examples of comments sections adding perspective and context to a story than those that were troll-bombed. I think comments should be edited in much the same way that calls are screened to radio talk shows.
  11. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Trust me, requiring an e-mail doesn't always block trolls.
  12. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Offensive messages should be tracked, the name found, and address, and those printed.
    That'll stop their gob.
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