Commmmments on newspaper sites

I saw that Daniel Meyer is going to be a Hardline guest this morning on WBEN.

Dan is a newspaper guy in the form of editor for The Hamburg Sun and a columnist for Weekly Independent Newspapers of WNY.

Before Hardline starts, I decided to catch up on Dan’s latest columns.

He wrote a column on something I have been meaning to blog about but haven’t got around to…online comments on the Buffalo News’ site and their decision to change their policy on how people can post.

I have blogged before on the subject and how absolutely awful the comments had become on the News’ website.

From Dan’s column “Not allowing anonymous online comments is really a no-brainer…”

If you haven’t done so recently, take a look around the World Wide Web sometime soon and just glance at the comment sections of local news websites. What you see may surprise you but really shouldn’t shock you as the frequent use of profanity, the practice of peppering people with petty personal attacks and many other senseless, brutal and vicious comments are things that you wouldn’t even see on the bathroom wall of any tavern on Chippewa Street in Buffalo.

Some of these online forums have helped to display that certain people using the safety of their computer have no fear in displaying how rude and crude they really are, especially when it comes to racist and homophobic rants that Donn Esmonde of The Buffalo News so accurately described in a recent column as “offensive garbage.”

I am all for the freedom and openness of the intertubes, but I think organizations like the News need to draw the line on what people post unless they are willing to put their name behind it.

The thing I fault News for is not doing this right from the get go when they started allowing comments.

What I hope the News does now  is start to allow comments on all of their online content.

It is interesting to see traditional media play catch up on the internet, but I think the news is starting to deliver better things online as a whole…video, audio, etc. as add ons to their print stories.

3 thoughts on “Commmmments on newspaper sites

  1. The observation that anonymity encourages low-brow attacks, racism, homophobia, xenophobia and other biases against anything “different” from the writers’ own views is an interesting exposure of human nature, indeed.

    The internet in general appears to compartmentalizing these forms of speech and slowly eliminating them from (at least) the more popular blogs and news sites. Anonymity is slowly becoming marginalized.

    My question for you: In the long run, is this a good thing or a bad thing?

    It is clear to me that racism and hatred in all forms are still far too prevalent in our society, and as such we need to continue to publicly embrace cultural and ethnic differences, to educate each other and to try to eliminate these biases from our lives. These anonymous writers clearly remind us of how far we have to go, and may/probably wouldn’t spew such vitriol if they had to put their names to their writing. Yet they would still be dangerously angry people, people we might otherwise believe we’ve relegated to the history bin. In the extreme case, removing their voices from the mainstream could lull us into a sense of belief that we’ve turned the corner, when in reality we’re far from that ideal.

    BBD

  2. BBD,

    You are right…I think seeing comments like the ones on the News’ site or other places on the web are stark reminders about what a lot of people are all about.

    Crazy and dangerous world we live in…

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