#MuckedUp chat Tuesday: comments and criticisms
To moderate or not to moderate? That is the question. Trolling and hate from commenters and tweeters is commonplace in the world of online journalism.
But what role should journalists play, if any, in reacting or responding to them? Newsrooms handle their comments sections differently. Some only accept comments from those who self-identify either through Facebook or other social media, others don't allow them at all.
From the social media side, journalists constantly deal with reactions to their writing on Twitter. Good or bad. Some welcome the confrontation and others simply ignore or block users. While Twitter is great for sharing and conversing, it can sometimes be a big blow to one's ego.
Butch Ward, senior faculty at the Poynter Institute, wrote an in-depth piece about whether or not journalists can repair comments sections. It analyzes if and how journalists should be involved wiht comments sections and responses to their articles.
Three ideas I hear most often are these:
- Comments need to be moderated.
- Comments sections need to be more than fenced-off areas for the public to talk among themselves. They need to be part of a newsroom’s coverage strategy.
- Reporters and editors need to participate in the conversation.
He also interviewed Sara Laitner, community editor at the Financial Times, and her collegaue Maija Palmer, social media journalist about their strategy dealing with comments. The FT has set out to involve their journalists in the comments section to boost interactivity with readers. Laitner had positive things to say about the comments section: "Readers’ comments on our site inform us, reward us and often surprise us." And David Pierce, senior reviews editor at The Verge, tweeted in an individual shoutout to a favorite troll on the staff (Nilay Patel), "I enjoy @reckless trolling Verge comments more than I've ever enjoyed anything in the world. Is that weird?"
But comments sections aren't always happy-go-lucky. Marie Shanahan, journalism professor at the University of Connecticut, wrote a story for Poynter earlier this year, noting that:
Insidious incivility in the comments can deter the more levelheaded members of an online community from participating, and can inflict damage on a news organization’s reputation.
So, how should we deal? Let's let out all of the anger and frustration (or joy and appreciation) of commenters, trolling, and rude tweeters. Join me online Tuesay October 10th at 8pm E.T. to get #muckedup and brawl it out with fellows journalists and news influencers on this touchy topic.