Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why we blocked comments on a story today

Some of the commenters on hit a new low today, and we disabled the commenting on the related stories for the first time.

Tragedy struck the McCarthy family yesterday, with the death of Dr. Owen McCarthy. They are well-known in this community, and have contributed much over the years. His prominence led us to assign columnist Vin Mannix to write a feature obituary, paying heed to Dr. McCarthy and his service to the community.

But there was a disgusting lack of respect among the comments – so inappropriate and hateful, especially on an obituary. The only good thing that came from this: Many of our readers e-mailed or called me, asking that we remove the comments. Thank you for helping police the website. We rely on you for this, and are reassured that you care enough to flag the offending remarks.

We also have provided a Legacy link for those of you with thoughtful notes to the family.


Matt C. said...

I know that newspapers have to do all they can these days to stay above water, and story comments on the website help to drive traffic and repeat traffic, but it's symptomatic of the internet as a whole - the commenters, hiding behind witty attempts at user names, use the anonymity as a license to get in touch with their inner idiots. Commenting should promote thoughtful discourse, but it's not happening here or most anywhere else. The reality is that it lowers the perception of the newspaper, and highlights the idiocy of many in our "community."

Anonymous said...

I applaud the editor for deleting the inappropriate comments. The McCarthy family should be shown respect at a time like this. Hopefully in the weeks to come they may find peace.

Anonymous said...


Since you have censored the comments, hard to tell what was so bad about what was posted.

I can only assume some people mentioned that he, and his wife, were involved in Medicare fraud in the past.

It is funny how a newspaper like yours is free to voice your opinion, but when it comes to free speech, you censor your readers.

This went on for years when George Bush was president. People said some hateful things about President Bush and you NEVER censored them.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to know why the comments were censored.

Is it because the late Dr. was practicing Medicare fraud?

It is funny how this paper has allowed many negative comments in the past, but protects this Dr.

You would think it was an abortion doctor the way this liberal newspaper has protected anything negative to be said about him and his felon wife, who was in charge of cheating the taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars of medicare monies.

He was a corrupt man and so is his wife.

Phil Davis

Anonymous said...

I was one of the readers who reported abuse about the comments being made. They were vulgar and abusive. Just as the FCC would monitor inappropriate content, the Bradenton Herald was obligated to do the same. It had nothing to do with censorship or free speech.

Dr. McCarthy treated my elderly mother for a broken shoulder and she received excellent care. He was one of the few physicians left who truly had the "country doctor" bedside manner.

When Dr. McCarthy faced his legal issues the Bradenton Herald did not "protect" him in their reporting. They stated the facts as they knew them and certainly did not sugar coat anything. By the same token, the paper recognized in his passing that his good deeds, as well as those of his family far surpassed any purported wrong doings.

It is unfortunate that the positive comments, and there were many, had to be removed because of the actions of one person. But this person's comments were intended to be hurtful, malicious and threatening.

We all have the right of free speech. None of us has the right to menace.

Anonymous said...

I am a regular commenter. I look at it like a regular letter to the editor. I really disagree with your politically correct posture of not properly identifying criminals. I feel that the community needs to know who is committing crimes. Now on the the McCarthy tragedy. You made the right call on deleting comments. Some people can be so hatful. The survivors dont need to see those. For once we agree...

Debor said...

"Dear Anonymous",
It was an obituary, not a breaking expose. Would you want your past mistakes or misdeeds (and we all have them) slathered across the comments of your death notice while your family grieves for you?

You give the impression you think you were doing some sort of public service by letting the Mr. Mannix's readers know about this departed soul's supposed "criminal misdeeds". Since it was already publicly documented at the time, you did no such service.

Instead you found a way to cowardly hurt his family and make yourself feel important. Small children do this to each other when they need to feel better about themselves. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

He recently did some work on my knee. He really did have a great bedside manner and had no problems pulling up a chair and answer every and all my questions. I would have recommended him to anyone. He did seem to shake a bit, I wonder if he had Parkinson's or some other illness that might have made him unsure of his own health? Still a shame that other people won't have the chance to be treated by him.