Monday, March 3, 2008

You now must register to comment online

You’re reading this because you’re already on Bradenton.com, checking out our online offerings -– from breaking news, unique advertising, community contacts, videos, slide shows, documents –- and story “commenting.”

That last element in particular falls under what probably can be classified as freedom of speech: the right for anyone to speak their mind. Unless…

Unless that “speech” is so ugly, so injurious, so libelous that it becomes garbage. Do you have that right? Maybe, but we don’t have to allow such hatred on the Herald’s web page.

Unfortunately, such abuse has been increasingly rampant on our commenting boards, which are attached to each story we publish. The vitriol, the racist hatred and the gutter talk that have surfaced with increasing frequency has been despicable.

Media websites around the country share this dilemma: How do we continue to provide a voice for the community and a way to interact with our site while keeping the extremely ugly commenting out?

Starting this week, we have made a significant move on Bradenton.com to curtail such commenting, even though it initially cuts into our online traffic. You now must register before you can comment. Other newspaper sites that have gone this route report that it decreases ugly anonymous postings.

Here’s what you’ll see:

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Along with this, here is our policy on postings at Bradenton.com:
It is not our policy to monitor the boards, because we are simply not staffed to do it. But as soon as we are alerted to inappropriate comments, we will remove them.

And a note that we hope to act on soon:
We are considering having community volunteer monitors. If you are willing to be one, let us know and we’ll contact you if we go that route.

Several concerned readers who have voiced their concerns have voiced interest in such monitoring. Here’s the response from one resident:

Thanks for acknowledging my concerns. I am sure the newspaper will put forth every effort to tackle this problem. If you do decide to go the community policing route, please send me the guidelines of the program; I will definitely consider it.


Let me know if you want to join that monitor list. We don’t have any desire to be forced to create censures of information. Please, help us weed out the jerks out there who want to spoil freedom of information for all of us. That’s why it’s one of our guaranteed rights as Americans –- and why the Fourth Estate must continue to prevail, in print, online, on air –- everywhere.

Joan

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen Sister!

Tony LaRussa said...

Who you calling a jerk, editor lady?