Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tim bobs and weaves on comments

Here's a good example of my experience in asking for reasonable treatment of Courier readers:

Q: * I'm still waiting to hear why you do not post all comments submitted on articles. I've talked to many people who have submitted comments only to never have them appear. I would think that a newspaper would believe in Freedom of Speech...

A: Editor Tim Wiederaenders answered: We try to post all comments that do not violate our Terms of Use agreement for the site. The Use of Service states, "If you use the Service ... you agree to abide by and be bound by the following:

1. You may not post, upload, or transmit any material or links to material that is libelous, defamatory, false, misleading, obscene, indecent, lewd, pornographic, violent, abusive, threatening, harassing, discriminatory, racist, vulgar, invasive of another’s privacy, illegal, constitutes hate speech, or harms minors in any way. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence will not be tolerated. Debate, but don’t attack. The Daily Courier encourages vibrant discussions and welcomes active debate in its discussion forums. But personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use."

To include as many comments as possible, we try to edit out the offending parts, but some comments are beyond help. We try to e-mail the people who post such comments, but their e-mail addresses are not always valid. If you have further questions about this, please call me at 928-445-3333, ext. 1095. Thank you.

Well, Tim, my personal, direct experience has included comments that are at least as compliant as others you routinely post being edited arbitrarily and simply disappearing without notice and without any attempt to contact me by Courier staff. I have read similar complaints by many other reliable commenters. Your response to this question is blatant hooey to anyone who's been doing this more than a couple of weeks, and I guarantee nobody's buying it any more than I am.

I maintain this blog as a safe place to speak for myself and for other readers. I recommend that commenters compose comments offline and keep copies for reference, including the day and time you upload them to the Courier. If your comment goes missing or is edited unfairly, I'm happy to host it here (subject to my own comments policy, at left) and call the editors on their behavior.

What would help build credibility on this issue is if the Courier appended the comments policy with a statement promising fair dealing, direct notification for the user and explanations of edits (seeking permission) and deletions, and editorial-side compliance with the policy banning personal attack, including user-on-user attacks. Everything's being handled far too capriciously as it stands.

PS, Sunday: A questioner asks about online content vs print.
"A: The printed Courier will always contain more by it's very nature."
There's no diverting the blame for this one, the Q&A section is clearly marked as written by the Courier editors. Pardon my geekiness, but an editor who doesn't know the difference between the possessive and the contraction, or who can't see it in his/her own copy, should be interning, not editing.

Editorial: Measures should stand on their own

Today the unnamed Courier editor condemns Congress for using longstanding standard procedures in an attempt to push through legislation that's favored by clear majorities of Americans.

The practice of using must-pass bills to carry other legislation goes back decades, and is a common tactic, made more so since the Republicans decided to start filibustering everything. I didn't see the editor complaining when the Rs have used it, but suddenly it's an issue for him. Why?

Could it be that he's more concerned that these bits of popular legislation might actually pass into law, fulfilling the promise of majority rule? Heaven forfend!

We'd all be better served if the editor would man up and just say that he wants to enforce exceptions on civil rights for homosexuals, reduce available manpower for the armed forces, and punish children for the sins of their parents and prevent them from becoming fully productive in the only country they know. These crocodile tears over Senate rules aren't fooling anyone.

For the record I would agree absolutely with the editor about eliminating bill riders if he would also accept the abolition of the other legislative rules that senselessly impede progress, like filibusters, imperial chairmanships and secret holds. Our state legislature is similarly bound by rules that ensure dictatorial powers for majority leadership. If voters in general knew the whole megillah on the nonsense that goes on as a result of ridiculous rules, there would be torches and pitchforks.

But bitching about a rule that just happens to not favor your minority argument at this particular juncture is childish, editor.