Tuesday, January 24, 2006

20. New York poor New York

I had to show people this seemingly banal article about the comments sections in the Washington Post website, washingtonpost.com, being taken away due to strong comments made by anonymous people.

They took away the comments section after people turned it more into an online brawl than a place for citizen discussion. I think this is stupid and pointless on a few different levels.

First, I have to point out that they aren't the only ones who monitor all anonymous (or supposedly anonymous) emails and comment posts. Further in the article they have a quotation from Craig Newmark, of Craigslist.

"The vast majority of people are trustworthy and good," he said, "but it really doesn't take much more than a few people to really abuse a site." Mr. Newmark said that offensive postings were often flagged for removal, adding: "We are open, an expression of democratic ideals, but like anything democratic, it has its problems. It imposes a burden."

The big newspapers, The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Washington Post and so forth, are so out of touch with readers. In ten years, most people will be reading newspapers online. Gone are the days of writing letters into the newspaper by hand, walking down to the cornerstore, buyinh a stamp, putting it in the mailbox and waiting two or three days to see if it gets printed. Now, all you have to do is walk to your computer, and you're done. AND, on top of that all, your comments will get published for ALL to see.

It was not that long ago when readers enraged by something they had seen in the newspaper would have to find a pen, a piece of paper, an envelope and a stamp to make their feelings heard. Now, mainstream media outlets find themselves under attack for not providing bandwidth and visibility to people who wish them dead.

This is ridiculous. Ice cream also cost a nickel. Who the fuck cares? Leaving the comments section open on online editions of major newspapers ensures that the newspaper will HAVE to take their reader's opinions into account, because everyone else reading the online version DOES. They shouldn't be able to edit the letters they get and post only the ones either thanking them for writing the article or only slightly denouncing it (example: I thought you could have done a better job showing both sides of the argument. But thanks for writing it anyway.) And if they don't want to be part of the community, fine. Is there some other place that's more convenient, with more resources and that allows for full disclosure with viewpoints from all over the world? Yes, I can't remember the name of it off the top of my head. Oh wait, yes I can. THE INTERNET.

What was it that the Washington Post and The New York Times (especially Jayson Blair) lacked? Oh yeah, reality.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I understand what you're saying, but doesn't there have to be SOME filter? As long as it's not based on content, just rather on profanity, etc., I don't see the harm in that.

1/25/2006 11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No way, dumb people say dumb shit ALL THE TIME. Someone has to be out there editing all this into one coherent discussion. I applaud the Washington Post for doing this. They are a respectable paper and should be able to do what they want. If yo don't like it, read something else. But be prepared for stupidity.

1/26/2006 12:48 AM  

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