Writers and academics attending the National Conference of Editorial Writers (NCEW) conference earlier this month in Indiana talked about the need to reform and possibly eliminate newspapers’ unfiltered, anonymous comment boards. Why?
Because people don’t have to convince an editor that they have something of worth to say, because the “facts” they offer go through no review at all, and because they post their comments under assumed or funny names, comment boards have become hives of invective, insult and so’s-your-old-man back and forth.
Journalism pros shrug it off. But the people we write about, the people we quote, are not fair game for the sort of “I’m glad he’s dead” comments that are far too often part of the mix.
(Read Salt Lake Tribune editorial writer George Pyle’s full piece here.)
And it’s with this is mind that the NCEW has initiated its Civility Project:
The goal must be to demonstrate, day in and day out, that the most useful and reliable form of public discussion in a democratic society is rooted in a commitment to honesty, logic, fairness and transparency. To the degree that this idea can be spread, incivility is discredited.