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Why it's scary when newspapers open the floor to the masses

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by tapintoamerica, Aug 3, 2007.

  1. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    This danger inherent in reader interaction and "citizen journalism" and all of their ethically specious relatives is well illustrated by the respones to this column. By allowing the almighty reader unfettered access to expression of opinion, the AJC is affiliated with a series of remarkably bold, racist comments re: Vick. It that really worth it? Is it really worth it to be the conduit for the spewing of hatred?
  2. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, it's worth it to papers to be "interactive" and just welcome whatever filth comes under the broad heading of "comments." To the higher-ups, it's 351 pieces of reader feedback. Never mind that maybe 10 percent of those would be clean enough to run in the letters page of the print edition.

    Of course the only way to keep these things in check would be to have a staffer reading and editing them 24/7, and you know that job's not going to be created anytime soon.
  3. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    I think your goal should be to have online content that you wouldn't be ashamed to run in the printed paper. After all, legally, if we're talking racist opinions or other libels, you're on the hook regardless of medium.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    The goal is to have online content and readership. Period.

    Amazing that so many of the online newspaper readers are freakin' idiots, though.
  5. JBHawkEye

    JBHawkEye Active Member

    It's amazing how creepy they are.
  6. MU_was_not_so_hard

    MU_was_not_so_hard Active Member

    I believe it is Miami that does this -- correct me if I'm wrong -- but they employ interns throughout the year who do nothing but monitor the Web site for racial and offensive comments.
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    ... and if there aren't enough, they add some to prime the pump.
  8. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Can't most of the vile garbage be eliminated if people were prohibited from making anonymous posts? Look, I understand the irony of asking this question while posting anonymously, but I'm not shoveling any profanity, racism, sexism, whatever. Printed letters-to-the-editor require real names and (though not published) contact info for a copy editor to check. Why not require that -- or at least actual e-mail addresses -- for comments? And for the folks that don't want to really be "citizen journalists" by identifying themselves, direct them to a message board that keeps their junk away from the editorial product (other than by links).
  9. Our comments section has become really popular lately. A couple have grown accustomed to calling me illiterate, as in "Teh person wrote tihs peace of shit story is illiterate." :D

    It's also a place where conservatives can bash heads. Everytime we write a murder story we have the religious conservatives preaching how we need to withhold judgment and the bubba conservatives shouting that the accused, and the zealots, can burn in hell.
  10. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Some places are headed that way. The opposite side is it puts quite a crimp on interactivity.
  11. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Active Member

    I can think of one sports journalism web site that did not see its interactivity drop after the owner stopped allowing anonymous posts. Name of the place escapes me, though.

    The people who want to interact will. The people who want to post things they'd be ashamed to say to their friends in a crowded restaurant ... bugger 'em.
  12. funky_mountain

    funky_mountain Active Member

    i'd venture to say those same idiots are also readers of a printed newspaper, too. they just never had a forum to anonymous idiots.

    some idiots will cool it if they are confronted by a staffer. recently, the comments on a story were getting out of hand, and i posted a comment asking people to keep the conversation adult-like. the offending idiots either deleted their comments or adhered to the request. it won't work all the time, but when the idiots realize a staffer is paying attention, it helps a bit.
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