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My comment on comments

October 26, 2010 - Ron Deuter
As regular visitors to this Web site probably noticed, the ability to comment on news articles was removed several weeks ago. And now with the launch of the new site late last week, commenting is still banned.

It’s a shame that the actions of a few nut-jobs ruined it for everyone.

I, for one, hope commenting returns to the site in short order. Having readers share their opinions, when done so in a mature and appropriate manner, adds an invaluable element to the site as a whole. It’s a terrific platform for members of our community to share, discuss and debate the issues of importance to them.

A primary responsibility of a newspaper is to use all the resources and privileges its afforded to promote good governance and public accountability. Giving the readers the opportunity to speak freely, in my opinion, serves as a needed extension of that obligation. Comment sections can be a revealing window into the pulse of the community. While a news story is going to tell me the who, what, when and where, the comments posted after a story tell me what my neighbors are really thinking.

And, in all honesty, letting the reader comment on stories also holds the newspaper and journalist accountable to present the news fair and accurate.

I agree that before our site re-opens to comments there needs to be a better way to police those who abuse the process. But I also know that responsibility lies as much with the paper as it does with fellow readers and contributors.

I have no doubt our paper is taking the steps to better track individual abusers. But when it comes to those few who choose to act absurd, the most important thing for readers to do is simply ignore the person’s posts and report the abuse.

Comment sections will most likely never be able to be held to the same standards or possess the level of integrity required of a professional journalist, but that doesn’t completely devalue the importance or impact. In fact, in this day and age of newspapers still learning how to adapt and succeed online, the combination of professional journalist's work and a public comment board at a one-stop shop provides a distinct edge over the competition.


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