Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Give 'Em Their Torches and Pitchforks

[Online Media] Wow. Don't you just love the brain trust that responds to Salt Lake Tribune stories via its online comment board? As of this writing, there are three full pages of reaction to this troubling Jan. 21 story, from the brave bigots who glibly eviscerate an entire ethnic group while cozily hiding behind their pseudonyms.

If, as the saying goes, newspapers are the rough draft of history, what are these comment boards, exactly? A form of electronic lynching? Clearly they offer license to hate an entire group of people, based on few facts and next to no context.

Adding insult to this racist injury are some editors at the
Trib, who seem all too quick to post, then just as quickly edit out reporters' descriptions of skin color, ethnic group and the like in crime stories. What the hell is going on? In the days of stodgy old print journalism, editors were careful to keep racial descriptions from creeping into stories unless it was confirmed and helpful in giving the public important identifying information.

But this is the wild west of online journalism. It's kill or be killed in the new media world. If that means rushing to post something prejudicial or purely inflammatory, then scrambling to remove it, then posting it again through shifting production cycles, well
c'est la vie.

Meanwhile, over at the
Deseret Morning News, a few comments actually showed some concern for the recovering victims. (Holly Mullen)

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