Monday, November 29, 2010

Comments jump the shark

Wednesday's awfully headlined "Man who used his cashier girlfriend to steal from store sentenced to probation" has attracted a bunch of comments from the girlfriend and the boy's father debating the relative goodness of people who "made a mistake" with the hang-'em-high crowd. It's a laff riot, and I think it bodes where our media may be headed.

Just around the corner, we may start to see perps, witnesses, neighbors and friends on teevee and in the papers, not responding to reporters' questions, but volunteering their points of view unedited and having their conflicts out in public, using their computers, cellphones, whatever.

This would be a new iteration of a phenomenon that's lately been out of style, the "open letter," in which people would use local papers to express themselves. I have copies of open-letter correspondence written by my great-grandfather and great-grandmother as they hashed out the grounds and defense for their impending divorce on the news page of the Kankakee Daily Gazette in 1920. It was ugly.

Like "reality teevee," I'm not sure that direct access to media like this will do much to edify society. But it will be "entertaining," so it will sell advertising.

1 comment:

Justin Rains said...

This should be a breaking point for comment policing, so to speak. I'm for the sites that make me people sign-up for an account to comment and also reserve the right to not allow comments on certain stories i.e. the Arizona Republic.