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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Friday, March 20, 2009

When comments are not fit to print

A reader wanted to know why some reader comments have been removed or blocked from stories. Simple: Destructive, cruel and outrageously inaccurate and needlessly hurtful anonymous comments do not warrant space, even in cyberspace, under the auspices of The Saratogian. We've also run into some where the comments identify victims of crimes.

I regret that we don't have the staff to monitor each and every comment before they are posted; instead, we have for a long while relied on a system that relies on readers to click on the "report abuse" option. We discovered a flaw in our system one Monday when we realized painfully mean comments posted over a weekend had been reported as abuse but gone unnoticed because the recipient of the report was not available over the weekend. We attempted to remedy that by having more staffers listed as editors to whom the abuse reports would be directed. Regrettably, the only way we can control the awful, irresponsible comments that some stories seem to attract is to entirely block comments on those stories. Readers still have the option of submitting letters to the editor.

Not every reported abuse results in the removal of comments. This week someone reported abuse, and when I looked into the criticism, I found it to be critical of a public figure but acceptable -- it was sharp but thoughtful, and not really a personal attack.


Blogger mikebmcnamara said...

Can't you write a sentence?

"Simple: Destructive, cruel and outrageously inaccurate and needlessly hurtful anonymous comments do not (MISSING WORD HERE, I THINK!!) space, even in cyberspace, under the auspices of The Saratogian."

Think back to the editorial you wrote bemoaning the quality of job candidates.

My goodness, read your own stuff, and read the paper daily. Your reporters and editors allow a lot of errors to make it into print and into the web. Really focus on this for a week. I did when your complaint originally was published. I sent examples to you. I got no answer, and have seen no improvement.

PS The missing word is probably warrant or deserve.

April 1, 2009 at 8:35 PM 
Blogger shanghai dandy said...

You'd think that someone with the title Managing Editor, would not only have impeccable grammar and spelling but would also be somewhat eloquent. Not in this town.

I don't mean to be disrespectful, but how did you get your job? Nepotism? Maybe?

Maybe that's why your paper does such a piss-poor job of investigating corruption of all kinds!

I believe this town deserves better...

April 6, 2009 at 9:29 PM 
Blogger muldoonmedia said...

I have to agree with mikebmcnamara, The Saratogian often has more typos than a chinese take-out menu, you can't begrudge the quality of candidates especially when you have the notorious reputation of never calling candidates back. You don't have to hire anyone you don't want but you should have the decency to call individuals back or at the very least e-mail them.

May 22, 2009 at 5:14 PM 

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