The Post on Comments

Uh-oh, are we going there again? (Stay tuned to FishbowlDC later…we’ll have some good internal discussions from Posties about this very subject…)

From Howie Kurtz’s piece today:

    No corner of the Net is safe from this bile. The Washington Post’s Web site has been grappling with a surge in offensive and incendiary comments.

    The really gruesome stuff represents a tiny minority of those online. But is there a way of policing the worst stuff without shutting down robust debate?

    Washingtonpost.com Executive Editor Jim Brady says he does not have the resources to screen the roughly 2,000 daily comments in advance. He has one staffer deleting offensive comments after the fact, and banning the authors from further feedback, based on complaints from readers. Brady plans to devote more staff to the process and to use new filtering technology.

    But Post reporter Darryl Fears is among those in the newsroom who believe the comments should be junked if offensive postings can’t be filtered out in advance. “If you’re an African American and you read about someone being called a porch monkey, that overrides any positive thing that you would read in the comments,” he says. “You’re starting to see some of the language you see on neo-Nazi sites, and that’s not good for The Washington Post or for the subjects in those stories.”

Read the rest here (and scroll down to the last item to read about how “The internal government e-mails that left a long paper trail on the controversial firing of eight U.S. attorneys provide a fascinating window on how the Justice Department deals with the press.”)