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Online comments: racist, idiotic completely useless...and bad for journalism

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Small Town Guy, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    We all know that the average comments on most newspaper stories make youtube comments appear Shakespearean in comparison, but something I hadn't thought of much is how they affect actual journalism. David Brauer at minnpost has had some good columns on online comments, and the Star Tribune's columnist Jon Tevlin wrote to him about how they actually negatively affect his work.


    Many papers, including the Tribune, don't even allow comments for certain types of stories, yet they always devolve into the same old crap anyway, no matter if the story's about a new farm bill or a 16-year-old killed in a car accident, so why allow them on any stories? Do people go to newspaper web sites because of the content they'll find there, or because they get to write stupid comments? I'd like to think it's still for the stories, as there are 8 million other places for people to make anonymous comments. So why do papers have to allow it?
  2. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    From your mouth to publishers' ears.
  3. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member

    Require a credit card on file to spew one's opinion, and that nasty/defamatory crapola evaporates.
  4. sportsguydave

    sportsguydave Active Member

    I've always thought that maybe requiring one to post under one's real name on newspaper web sites would help in that area too. I think people would be a little more careful with their words if they had to own them.

    Of course, that's going to sound a little weird coming from a guy on a site that doesn't do that ... but I think our site is in a different category than the average newspaper web site.
  5. RedSmithClone

    RedSmithClone Active Member

    As many of you here know I am not afraid to tell it like I see it. That's how I am when I write columns as well. I have yet to write a column that 1 of every 3 people who disagree with me will simply comment on my head shot appearance as a way to try and discredit what I have to say. The other 2 of every 3 critics will normally raise points or express their view and simply say I'm wrong. Personally I just laugh it all off and consider it an honor that I got some sort of emotion out of the reader. Namecalling and personal attacks are meaningless to me. We actually joke in the sports cluster about one guy who always calls me Newman in his rants. If you take all the attacks to heart it'll kill you inside.
  6. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    I like Tevlin's stuff. Always have.
    25 years ago, I was his news editor in rural Minny... good guy...

    That's all. Please continue.
  7. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    I know of few newspapers that would publish unsigned, anonymous letters to the editor. Why this policy does not apply for online comments is beyond me. Then again, I worked for a newspaper that would publish anonymous voicemail messages left on a recording machine at the newspaper. Wildly popular and completely irresponsible.
    As soon as papers start charging people to leave comments, they will either disappear or create a revenue stream. Win-win in my book.
  8. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Because, online, they want the clicks, eyeballs, reactions and interactivity -- and the hard, visible and measurable indications/proof of such things, too.

    In newspapers, quality generally is considered a better measuring stick than quantity. That's why the strongest, most well-written letters, or else, those with different but clear and salient points, are the ones that will be printed. Space issues dictate this approach.

    In the online world, quantity is more important, and thus, "better" as a measuring tape than quality. The more (of anything), the better/more successful.

    Encouraging/enforcing quality by making people sign their names to their online "voices" would silence them, and is not conducive to the sheer numbers game that is so important to online operations.
  9. Den1983

    Den1983 Active Member

    We recently went that route and the comments have become few and far between. I just never understood the purpose of having online comments. It doesn't serve anybody any good and I completely understand the OP's point. I hate them. End of story.
  10. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member

    Advertisers want people who will spend money on their crap.

    Teenaged, racist troglodytes, who jack off in front of their Dell in the basement under a photo of Hitler, while their Grand Dragon sheets are in the dryer, and insist on getting everything for free ... dunno what sort of economic pop advertisers are getting off them.
  11. GlenQuagmire

    GlenQuagmire Active Member

    I'm in the same boat. Not sure that the people commenting about how stupid said writer is or how much Team X sucks will consider going to the local spa with the online ad.
  12. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately, it doesn't have much to do with advertisers, at least, not yet.

    For now, still, it's the newspapers themselves that want/need the sheer numbers, and the tangible, quantifiable evidence that comments provide that people are looking at the online product.

    They also don't care who it is (yet), because newspapers have not translated their online operation to advertising dollars yet, anyway. Not that that's not a key thing to be doing, but the fact is, they're not, yet. So, for now, they just want readers, any readers, and they want the proof of them and people's interest that comments provide.

    Besides, do you think teen-aged kids in front of their Dell in the basement are the only ones looking online for their news, information and entertainment? Newspapers know that's not the case, but since they don't quite have a handle on the actual online demographics (again, not yet, anyway), they want to have evidence of, and they want to retain, anyone and everyone.

    It's all about numbers and evidenced interest.
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