"The hatemongers stormed the gates"
This summer, the newspaper began allowing readers to post unchecked comments beneath each article on its website. Almost immediately, the hatemongers stormed the gates, and they haven’t let up since.
The comments are reaction-moderated, so it takes a user to alert the moderators when racist comments occur. Though Sun-Sentinel editor Earl Maucker writes that the messageboards are constantly monitored, Bob Norman thinks otherwise. The Sentinel’s internet partner Topix.net runs similar services for a large number of sites, and are apparently not monitoring the Sentinel all that closely.
One reader said he alerted the paper to a racist comment 50 times without anything happening.
“We’re very disturbed when we see insensitive, racist and offensive messages that some feel compelled to post”, wrote Earl Maucker in his “Ask the Editor column. He blames the anonymity of the internet, among other things.
Bob Norman things that the Sentinel should either follow the Miami Herald’s example of allowing comments to only a few stories, or put a lot more effort into monitoring the messageboard he’s got.
It’s hard to handle a good initiative gone bad, as the recent AZ starnet example shows, and perhaps it would be better for the Sentinel to start over with a fresh system, but above all to take part of what the readers are writing and to be active.