Should the AZ Republic change its comments policy?

23 Sep 2009 01:26 pm
Posted by: Donna

Yesterday I got a call from Ted Downing regarding my LTTE. He had made some supportive comments to the online version and was appalled by the downright menacing tone of some of the other comments to my letter. Dr. Downing thinks that the Republic should require a first and last name for online comments just as it does editorials. He’s got a good point because it gets pretty nasty in there and y’all know I’m not one to clutch my pearls over propriety and decorum.

This is an exchange Dr. Downing forwarded me from today’s article about how 1 in 4 Phoenicians is uninsured.

(Ted Downing) One would hope that Senators Kyl and McCain read the front page of their home newspapers. Are they so comfortable in their seats that they can ignore the fact it is their state that is among the most at risk? Within ten years, we will have two young, Democratic senators, thanks to this issue.

(respondent) You are a government slave willing to turn over your life to a government bureaucrat. You are unworthy of calling yourself an American and you dishonor the men who died to keep you free. You are a yellow traitor, pure and simple. Pack your bags and get out of my nation you miserable, (expletive) piece of (expletive).

I doubt very much that the Republic would print that statement as a letter so why are they allowing anonymous people to post venomous and borderline threatening crap like that? They’re a newspaper, not a blog. and as such their standards should be higher than ours or Sonoran Alliance’s. I know they have moderators but it’s got to be very difficult to catch every inappropriate comment in the sheer volume that come in. I admit to being guilty of having more than one account there but today I went back to posting under my real name, with my picture. You may not agree with or like everything I say but I’m going to say it under my own name.

What do you guys think? Should they require a name and address to post comments?

11 Comments

  1. Comment by Italiana on September 23, 2009 1:33 pm

    Yeah, I think they should either do that or be more assertive in editing the comments on the blogs — in other words, if they wouldn’t print it in the hard copy edition, they shouldn’t allow it on azcentral.

  2. Comment by del on September 23, 2009 4:19 pm

    Heh. I long ago stopped reading the comments on newspaper websites because of the racist, incendiary garbage that the “moderators” were allowing through. Half the comments you read are from internet trolls just interested in stirring up trouble. I don’t think most even bother to read the article or LTTE. I think they ought to just shut the comment boards down on most newspapers’ sites.

    What really gets me is how channel 12 news reads the trolls’ comments off azcentral.com on the air. They must really be hard up for stuff to fill airtime with. Sheesh.

  3. Comment by Jerry Moles on September 24, 2009 9:09 am

    Yes, people should be required to publish their names. This name calling in secret allows people to be disrespectful to others without any personal costs. Further, this should reduce the purposeful misinformation that is being thrown to and fro. Evenso, for the ignorant, there is no salvation.

  4. Comment by VWgal on September 24, 2009 9:43 am

    I agree Italiana – while I am for free speech. The “comments” have gotten out of control on many pieces lately.

  5. Comment by Eli_Blake on September 24, 2009 2:38 pm

    Funny you should bring this up.

    Montini made very much the same point himself last week in his blog post,

    where wackos go to chat with you.

    I actually took him to task a bit on the first comment on that precisely because some of the letters they do let into the paper contain breathtaking factual inaccuracies.

    It’s also worth noting that the Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff newspaper) used to have an online comment forum that the closed down a couple of years ago because people were getting to angry and obscene with other commenters.

  6. Comment by dude on September 24, 2009 9:16 pm

    I know I sound like a concern troll by asking this, but would moderating the forums really help that much?

    A person who obviously doesn’t operate in the same reality as most of the rest of us wrote something almost no one would agree is acceptable to Ted Downing– but that person, even without the ability to comment, probably believes wholeheartedly that Downing isn’t worthy of living in the USA.

    Do these comments sections really bring out the worst in us all the time, or are they more like a painful reminder that people with repulsive ideas exist no matter how much we try to ignore them?

  7. Comment by Terry on September 25, 2009 2:09 pm

    Hi, are you in any way associated with the website Sonoran Alliance? Just curious.

  8. Comment by Donna on September 26, 2009 10:13 pm

    Am I associated with Sonoran Alliance? Good Lord, no.

  9. Comment by Ann Wallack on September 28, 2009 4:23 pm

    Yes, people should publish their names. And, I agree with Eli in his reference to Montini’s column. I also think that letters to the editors that start from a false assumption should be noted by the editors. The editors could set them straight and do us all a public service.

  10. Comment by Ronnie on September 30, 2009 3:24 pm

    It’s an interesting thought.

    I suggest that if you think it is a good policy to ban comments that do not have a first and last name then you should do it on your site to set the example.

  11. Comment by Donna on October 4, 2009 6:40 pm

    Ronnie, this is a blog, not the newspaper of record for a major metropolitan area.

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