So sayeth Michael Silence who wrote yesterday at the Knoxville News Sentinel that news outlets have bigger things to contend with than trolls. He’s responding to a recent article in the American Journalism Review. He thinks there is a whole lotta nothing about the information being given out which is targeting anonymous online commenters.
Rieder also offers this from Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: “A lot of people are really ticked off by anonymous comments. I think the public hates it.”
It’s a classic case of shooting the messenger. And I fear it is just another twist of the spigot slowly choking off the free flow of information.
Vigorous debate does not come sanitized. It has always been the good, the bad and the ugly, and sometimes it can get as rough as Clint Eastwood.
Don’t get me wrong, bloggers have discussed this continually over the years amongst ourselves but we also know that it’s part of it. Heck, when we bring it up we usually get hammered by either reporters or other bloggers but now that the AJR is talking about it, it has validity. I say that firmly with tongue-in-cheek, my friends. It’s funny (not in a Ha-Ha way) at certain blogs that the trolls seriously come out to do some damage and having blogged for awhile, it’s pretty obvious who is, let’s say, a political insider swiping at another candidate or someone who is just wanting to pick a fight before Judge Judy comes on. In Internetland there can be a lack of civility but people have that right. There is also some wonderful things that occur too. It’s a matter of looking at the glass half-empty or half-full.
Many of us have put in an ignore switch in our brains when it comes to the mean-spirited stuff. If someone is going to post ugly comments on a news website attacking people who are going through a terrible time, then they have to lay their own head on the pillow at night, don’t they? And they do lose credibility with more serious users or readers. News has other things to do, as Michael says, and the right to bitch and moan and complain on both the side of the trolls and the news editors is also in place. They both have that right. Doesn’t make it wrong or right, just the facts.
Engaging an attack is pretty cowardly when a name isn’t behind it. However, it is what it is.