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Dateline: Tue 29 Nov 2011

"I told Dennis Ryerson that everytiime I read the comments (on the Indystar.com website), I felt like I'd gone to a strip club!"

In other words, a little dirty, a little guilty and a lot alienated from our better angels in Indianapolis.

That's my friend Tim Nation talking; he heads the Peace and Learning Center in Indianapolis, where peaceful conflict resolution and other means of healthy communication are stressed and taught. Nation was voicing his approval Sunday for the changes made by the Indianapolis Star, as announced in Sunday's column by executive editor Dennis Ryerson

"...beginning Tuesday, we will be moving all story comment to the Facebook social network site," Ryerson announced.

"We're doing this because along with anonymity has come an unacceptable level of hatred, crude language and other nastiness."

Yes, which the Star has tolerated for years now, so it's a little late to take the high moral ground.

As Ryerson acknowledged, other papers have moved this direction; Gannettblog reported Oct. 31 that Gannett Corporate is moving to Facebook commentary for all its "websites for U.S. community newspapers, TV stations and USA Today."

So far, in the Gannett chain, and I use that with full intention, Indy Star joins the News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., and the Des Moines Register.

Basically, the change is an admission of failure on Gannett's behalf to control its nastier readers' big mouths. In the past, readers of this blog have pointed to racism, sexism and various illegal activities promoted in Indystar comments. Insults were standard fare.

The new policy requires anyone commenting to have a Facebook account. I looked at the News-Press commnets; right away, my Facebook photo appeared, allowing me to shoot off my mouth without the protection of anonyminity.

However, The Star was set to start its Facebook comments today, according to Ryerson. So far, it's not up and running.

For the person who asked, Let It Out! still stands. While those comments are anonymous, they are more carefully supervised and less voluminous than the typical comments made on a particular story.

Of course, this "no more anonymous comment" policy is a commentary on our lack of civil discourse. The paper can't be blamed for loose lips. But in the past, it should have policed its comments better. That would have required manpower.

No doubt, the issue came down to finances, as it always does with Gannett.

Comments

varangianguard [unverified] said:

Cincinnati Enquirer too.

2011-11-29 16:31:17

Mile0 [unverified] said:

This is kinda silly coming from an anonymous board that routinely (and usually incorrectly) blasts current/previous Star employees.

2011-11-29 17:03:08

Wilson46201 [unverified] said:

one time I had to call Ryerson's secretary to get the Star delete a death threat posted in comments. Her first reaction was to tell me to flag the comment and IT would handle it -- I informed her it had been marked but after several hours it had remained. I reminded her that death threats against public officials were a very serious matter and could get the Star into serious legal trouble.
It was gone in 10 minutes!
(yes, I grabbed a screen shot just in case)

2011-11-29 18:11:05

Seneca [Member] said:

". . . I felt like I'd gone to a strip club!"

Those who go to strip clubs go there voluntarily (they are not coerced).

Same could be said about going to the comments on the Star website. The comments section does not come unbidden to you; you have to go get it.

If you are offended by the comments, then why do you go there? Is it so you will have something to moralize about and feel superior while doing it?

I'll get off my soapbox now.

"Thanks for reading . . ."

2011-11-30 08:15:30

hendy [Member] said:

Up and running means that comments have to start accumulate on FB, IndyStar won't "transfer" comments from the Gannett CRM application to FB. The old comments will be eventually archived, I'm guessing, as the new ones on FB are populated.

It's an almost FREE way of using FB to be your 'cop' and anonymity remover. It also makes the cockroaches go back under the rug. In a way, it's too bad, because I'd love to track those comments back by their IP to the people that need medication. I suspect that a tiny minority of posters have lots of time to make lots of noise.

Those with lip flatulence, however, are a number larger than we want to believe. There are all sorts of fools that believe the Fox News drivel, and ascribe to: White is Right, and other redneck aphorisms. Remember: Indiana is Alabama North. Do what you can to elevate the rednecks to a higher plane of existence.

2011-11-30 08:33:04

Seneca [Member] said:

"There are all sorts of fools that believe the Fox News drivel . . ."

It's offensive to me; I never watch it.

This blog is not offensive to me; I read it every day, first thing when I'm online.

2011-11-30 08:40:11

whosear [Member] said:

Dennis Prager has commented extensively that anonymity is dangerous to civil discourse. Think about driving your car (rudeness, road rage) vs talking to someone at a meet n greet with a name tag on.

Reducing anonymity on the net is a good thing. In defense of the Star, basically all comments after a story would need to be moderated. I am part of a couple of moderated forums on Yahoo and the volunteers spend much time and effort in their task.

2011-12-02 09:36:49

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