Monday, December 8, 2008

"Train death triggered insensitive comments"

From the Journal Times:

"Earlier this week The Journal Times covered the tragic suicide death of Benjamin Scharding, a Prairie School sophomore who was hit by a train near his home. The story was posted to our web site and over the next three days drew several dozen comments. Some of the comments offered condolences to the family and friends and had kind words to say about Ben and his talents. But many comments were insensitive to Ben’s memory, his family and his classmates. Our editors deleted several comments from the web site, but comments in that vein continued and we began reviewing whether the story and comments should remain up on our web site.

"On Friday morning We removed the comments from our web site and we are sorry that we did not do it sooner. We apologize to Ben’s family and classmates for allowing some of the coarse and insensitive comments."

The above was in yesterday's print edition of the Journal Times, but I didn't see it until this morning. I saw the story on the suicide last week and read it, but didn't read the comments. I mean, what's there to say?

After reading the above, I checked the Journal Times blog section (it has changed) to see if anything was posted on the subject. I found the following, apparently posted by another reader/commenter: What I still don't see, though, is any attempt by the Journal Times to communicate with its bloggers. Why don't they just ask people why they leave rude and insensitive comments? They just might learn something. Instead, they continue with the wizard-behind-the-curtain act, issuing proclamations and denunciations like they exist in some sort of bubble above the fray of day-to-day life in Racine. Indeed, that's been their problem all along.

I'm not making excuses for cowardly comments left on a story about a tragedy. But if the Journal Times is going to continue to allow comments on their website, they are going to have to deal with the web's fundamental and fierce democracy - some might even call it anarchy. I know it's not pretty; reality often isn't. However, I'd much rather deal with reality than fog my brain with a dream world of the Journal Times' making. I live and breathe in the real Racine, Wisconsin, not Lee Enterprises' version of it.


Beejay said...

Orbs, all I can say is that people can be damn cruel at a time when we do NOT know all the facts. This was a teenager, come on...whatever happened happened. To start thinking that I might have any idea of his frame of mind is presumptuous(sp). The poor kid is dead. His parents are grieving. I will not and cannot judge him or his actions.

Should the blog have been shut down...yes, in my opinion, it served not useful purpose other than to inflict a lot more pain where it was not needed.

Beejay said...

Oops, 'served no useful purpose...'

kkdither said...

I don't think most news stories which involve death or crime should allow comments. It just brings out the worst in people, second guessing everything and bringing racism and other negative factors into the story. The people involved and the families only hurt for it. State the facts and leave it closed for comment.

I'm glad the JT is finally trying to set some sort of decency policy. Hopefully it is enforced across the board and not in just select circumstances. If they were more honest about intention, I think we would have all stayed there. I agree with orbs in that there was the "man behind the curtain" mentality going on.

I really, really feel for this family and his friends no matter what the reasons or the circumstances.

drewzepmeister said...

Those JT newsblogs bring out the worst in people. Some of the comments I have have read are downright sickening. I'm glad that the JT shut that one down. All it did was bring more pain to all those involved. I hope JT would start making better desisions on what story to allow comments on.

Once again,my deepest sympathies to the friends and families of everybody involved in this ordeal. May the healing process begin...

AvengingAngel said...

And it's always the same 5 or 6 idiots making the comments, but only our beloved Orbs gets banned for political commentary. That's why we're here and not there.

cyndi said...

Yeah, it's interesting to see who crawled into the void left by the regular posters who migrated to this site. I hope I never appeared so idiotic, lol!
Looks like the trolls (the most obvious ones) are no longer stalking the JT blogs, tho... but for the most part, other than a few blowhards, their blogs are deader n a doornail. Awwwwwwwwwwwww.....

hale-bopp said...

5 or 6 idiots using 20 or 30 different names, but you can tell they are the same due to their writing style (do they think we are idiots,or are they too stupid to realize people have distinctive writing styles?)

I touched a little on this as well recently and looked at the Journal Times TOS. Enforcement of them is totally random.

Our local paper here, the Arizona Daily Star is also operated by Lee Enterprises. They allow comments on almost all stories (like the JT) but do not have an online community. They have user photo galleries, but not the user blogs/groups of the JT.

Given the differences, I wonder how much Lee Enterprises really is meddling with the local JT web site. It doesn't look like there are consistent features or a too many commonalities between the sites.