Uh, Steve….

Steve Lundeberg, writing on the Mid-Valley Voice site:

We provide a forum for this?

Posted by: Steve Lundeberg on May 4, 2009 at 2:56PM EST
Yours truly made a guest appearance on the editorial page last week, arguing in support of a bill intended to crack down on puppy mills.

Knowing that the measure has been somewhat controversial — particularly the component of it that would prohibit a breeder from owning more than 50 sexually intact adult dogs — I dropped by our website Sunday night to see what if any reader comments the online version of the editorial may have generated.

As you’ll notice for yourself if you click on the link above, one person made an intelligent, coherent comment.

The rest of them, however, were basically a kindergarten-level exchange of insults that had nothing to do with the issue at hand.

Thank goodness our site is being used as a forum for intelligent discourse.

Do you think the years and years of having an editor whose editorials promote this kind of discourse have anything to do with it?

Nah.  That would be silly – just like taking any responsibility for the tone of commenters on the MVV.  Maybe Lundeberg isn’t web-savvy, or maybe he’s speaking out of line, but it’s pretty common knowledge that a) the type of content posted by the organization or person in question plays some role in determining the commenter base; and b) any organization that hosts a forum or discussion board has to take an active role in shaping the commenter culture if it’s ever going to rise above the fever swamp.

I suspect some folks at the GT might get this, though from what I can tell Lee hasn’t even devoted enough resources to make such development possible, nor does their comment moderation system promote intelligent discourse (or punish the opposite).   For a newspaper, though, it is a trickier line to walk, as I’m sure they are trying to convince readers they are neutral in some ways.

Even as a tossed-off comment from Lundeberg, it’s clear he doesn’t get either of the above points.  Oh, and way to heap scorn on the most active users of your site.  I’m sure that will help increase web traffic.


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