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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.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Opinions versus idiotic comments

Two of the great things about the Internet are its immediacy and the way people can interact. It's terrific that stories and opinions can be posted on The Saratogian Web site any time of the day or night. Breaking news gets right up. And comments to posts can turn into a conversation of sorts.
The conversation sometimes disintegrates. Some people cannot resist idiotic, uncivil and sometimes hateful drivel.
I recently added myself to the people at the newspaper who receive an e-mail when a reader clicks on "report abuse" after a comment. I see who filed the report, what the comment included, and the filer's summation of why it should be removed. Then I decide whether to remove it or leave it alone.
In the last couple of weeks I've been inundated with reports, and I have been removing more than half of the comments, most of whom are from just one or two people. I am debating whether to ban them outright. I encourage readers to share their comments, and implore them to keep it civil. My patience for people misusing our site for stupid, mean, meaningless potshots is running out.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Skidmore President Speaks ... and Who's Counting

This morning's (May 5) Opinion page includes a lengthy letter to readers we received yesterday from Skidmore President Philip Glotzbach concerning the "420" pot party, the college's reaction, and plans moving forward. It is a thoughtful piece, one that should have been written for the public on 4/21.
About the numbers: Last Thursday, following a closed meeting about the handling of 420 that included reps from Skidmore and law enforcement,, D.A. Jim Murphy was quoted in other media that Skidmore security convincingly showed that the number of students participating in 420 was more like 25 rather than the 100 estimated by The Saratogian. After discussing this with him yesterday, Murphy acknowledges that the difference in the college and the newspaper's estimates does not mean The Saratogian's were inaccurate.
Our estimate was obtained by a reporter and photographer being in the thick of things. The newspaper never meant to suggest that you could see all the participants smoking pot, but it was definitely going on. And we are confident that the crowd at 4:20 was much more like 100 than 25.