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"If we moderate, we'll get sued," seemed to justify "here's your sandbox, play nice."
Result: newspapers behind the curve.
May 10, 2009
6 other people
That's interesting to me, looking from the outside the newspaper biz. I've frankly been puzzled about newspaper management not getting the interactive nature of web. Stuff like newspaper-branded blogs without links and unmoderated comments sections now make sense - on advice of counsel, don't get involved. -
I posted this on twitter as a reply, but worth repeating. This is a silly excuse. CNN had moderated news discussions back in 1995, never got sued. Silly reason to allow cesspools on their site. (fmr CNN mod) -
But not if you are looking for a way to ignore and downgrade user contributions. Then the court case is ideal. -
I suppose so. Makes very little sense to me overall, though, because the community (whether or not officially recognized as valuable) raises the value of the site. Provided, that is, that the trolls are held at bay. -
True about raising the value. But you're perhaps underestimating what a jaundiced view of the people out there many journalists had developed, and how heavily they had invested in the divisions separating professional editorial people and their work from what others did. As long as they didn't have to deal with the people in comment threads they could tolerate them. Also, in this period (95-99) professional journalists did many things that made no sense, like "never link out." -
Yes, but the idea of a "great unwashed" mass outside the gates can hardly be restricted to newspapers or journalism in general. The court case gave a convenient alibi. But if it hadn't been that, it would have been something else. In television, for example, there are always people who want to get their own programming on your air. But, amazingly, the programs never seemed to meet engineering standards and so were rejected. A (relatively) closed system is, well, closed, no matter what the thing being practiced. -
Now wait: I didn't say the reactions were original to or restricted to journalism :-) So....you're right. Many were examples of attitudes you would find in threatened institutions of all kinds; knowledge workers in a situation where access is expanding to more of the population would look down on the newcomers, I'd bet. But if we want to know about some of the specific mistakes this industry made as it gazed upon the Web, the 1995 decision is part of how one of them happened, part of the reason the strategic importance of engagement with the Web user got overlooked. -
I know for a fact that the case talked about at the link I gave you was cited and the interpretations Niles describes were commonly spread because I heard them from reporters who got turned down by management for attempts to systematically develop information or source s from comment threads. They were told that if they attempted in any way to garden, moderate, or develop comment threads, the paper took on extra liability. I tweeted about one case of this at the Seattle P-I several months ago. It is (or was) a commonly held view in newsrooms. -
The curious thing to me is that the legacy of the Stratton case held on for so long (and was so far reaching) after the CDA. But even Niles says something like he can only guess why. -
This is a great comment thread. Lots of similarities to other institutions that thought they were "above" interacting with their customers. -
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