Some editors were sitting in a news meeting one morning not long ago, bemoaning the often outrageous, intolerant and hateful online “comments” attached to stories on The News Web site, when News Business Editor Grove Potter uttered a simple but eloquent truth:
“Let’s face it,” he said. “We’ve created a class of anonymous flamethrowers.”
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He’s right. We have. And shortly, we’re about to change that dramatically.
Online commenting began, a year or so ago, as a way to engage our Web readers and give them a chance to air their points of view and get some discussion going on the topics of the day.
Quickly, though, the practice degenerated into something significantly less lofty. Particularly on stories about inner-city crime — but not only on those stories — reader comments can be racist and ugly. In fact, we’ve been shocked at how seemingly routine stories can elicit comments that veer off into offensive territory.
Read More: By Margaret Sullivan, Buffalo News