T Rav’s Rant: Why I Hate The Newspaper’s Comment Section
If there is an argument for print media, it has to be the comment section on the local newspaper website.
If you scroll down and check out the comment section on this site, you will see that it is linked to Facebook. Anytime someone comments, you see their full name and picture on our site. And while its not perfect, Facebook is pretty good about shutting down bogus accounts once they're reported.
Now take a look at the comment section for any story on the Evansville Courier and Press website. All of their posters are allowed to hide behind anonymous screen names. There is no accountability for what people post, and they post some crazy stuff.
You could literally take a story about a firefighter rescuing a kitten from a tree and find a least one comment blaming Democrats for not providing enough funding for ladders for the fire department, one comment complaining the kitten just wanted a handout, and one comment blaming President Obama for the tree being there.
And it doesn't stop there. You will see some of the most racist, bigoted, mean-spirited comments on this side of 4Chan. You will also explore the world of people who see conspiracy theories in everything. You know those new trashcans we got in Evansville? There is a conspiracy behind that too.
So why do I run to the print edition? Because the comment section is like roadkill. No matter how hard I try, I can't look away. Before the internet, comments like the ones I see had to be contained in a "Letter to the Editor". There was an editor who threw out the crazy letters and printed the good ones. Now all you need to share an opinion is a third grade education and a internet connection.
Back at the beginning of the year, the Courier said they were making the effort to clean up their comment section. They promised to ban the abusers, delete blatant lies and gossip, and make sure the posts stay on topic.
None of that has happened.
In my honest opinion, the Courier should just suck it up and change their comment section like MANY other news websites have done. Make the users link to an active Facebook or email account. Have an ACTIVE moderator who is deleting comments that violate their terms of service, and helping to steer the conversation.
Until then I'll take my news in paper form (or on TV).