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 Post subject: From the crime beat
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:48 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2005 3:47 pm
Posts: 4655
Location: New York City
1. You're a managing editor for a newspaper, and you're astounded by ignorance? [See the tagline.]
2. You allow comments, you don't bother reviewing them, and then you suffer the vapors when commenters say mean things?
3. Rewriting press releases doesn't trouble you?
4. A local teenager dies at a local library in your local paper, and all it gets is a brief?
5. You write in cliches?

Vile comments removed from website
If it bleeds it leads.

That axiom was true with newspapers throughout the century and, to some extent, is still very relevant today.

Our statistics regularly show that crime stories are some of the most popular reads in our newspapers and online at durhamregion.com.

The smallest story, simply a rewrite from a press release, can grab our readers' attention.

For much of Friday and this past weekend, one of the most-read stories on our website was a brief about a teenager who died at the Bowmanville Public Library. That type of news hits home with everyone in our community and I wasn't surprised it caught many eyes.

But one trend in our crime stories lately has me seeing red and questioning the ignorance of some people who live in Durham.

Many of our crime stories involving robberies include a description of the suspects when provided by police. White, black, Asian, it doesn't matter. If that description helps with an arrest, we are glad to help.

But lately, when the suspect was black, it brought out the most vile, repulsive and offensive comments we have ever had on our website.

In fact, it has now got to the point that we are turning off commenting on crime stories when they appear on our website.

Some newspapers have staff members whose only job is to read through all the comments posted to a website to make sure they are appropriate, before they go live.

We don't. When we write something for the web, you get to comment immediately. It's both one of the great things about the web and the worst.

When we get complaints about a comment, we go in to review them and if warranted, remove them. In the past, we have removed commenting privileges from certain readers who continue to malign others, but that only keeps them off for a while until they get a new e-mail address and start their flow of hateful thoughts again.

We have tried removing the comments and asking the commenters to refrain from the horrible thoughts, but they didn't. The hateful comments continued to spew onto our website and that we will not permit.

So for now, commenting on most crime stories will be turned off.
Managing editor Mike Johnston continues to be astounded by the complete ignorance of some people.

Hat tip: Jim Romenesko. Some comments:
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