Monday, December 8, 2008

Commenting on comments about comments

I've commented on commenting before, mostly about one of my more entertaining breaks from work, Frontburner. But today, it came up not once, but twice. One in a local way, one in a slightly bigger way. First, I was told to go look at what Mike Orren at PegasusNews wrote about blog comments. I don't think I've seen such a detailed, thoughtful post on a publication's comment policy in a while. It didn't insult longtime contributors and readers by saying, "It's ours, we can do what we want." No, Orren took the time to explain what the policy was, and what the site's hopes were for it. Kudos to Mike. And then on HuffPo, Phil Bronstein (yes, this Phil Bronstein) also weighed in on why comments are important. Bronstein asks:
"So how do you pay more than lip service to the idea of public participation? How do you create "community" but limit it only to a community you'd be comfortable living in yourself? Or should you?"
He added:
"Technology shouldn't be the only arbiter of its own use. (We do because we can). Journalists still get paid to exercise some judgment. But we close out citizens at our own risk. And that risk has proven to be huge."
So no, there's no clear-cut answer, as you can see from the rest of Bronstein's post. But really, are we journalists allowed to really get up in arms about various infractions on the whole freedom of speech thing if we ourselves are willing to abandon it when it makes us uncomfortable?