10:09 AM EDT, May 20, 2012
The South Bend Tribune deserves a pat on the back for trying to do the right thing, but only time will tell if it will bring to an end something that had often turned vile, mean spirited and, at times, hateful and racist.
I am talking about my long-time concern over the tenor of many e-mail comments to news stories. What started out years ago on news and sports web sites as a good idea – thoughtful discussion of timely events – had in many cases turned into something ugly. Many respondents, hiding under the cover of anonymous e-mail names, took over from those good people with good intentions. The Tribune and others initially put some safeguards in place, but it became clear no one had enough staff to fend off the assaults on good taste. Tim Harmon, the executive editor of the Tribune and an honorable journalist, admitted as much in his well-written piece in the paper on May 13th. The online comments will now have to come through readers’ Facebook accounts. The hope is that Facebook will offer less “cover” for people who should be easier to identify. I hope so, but it is going to take a lot of watchful eyes. Other local news web sites better keep their eyes open too, because those people now driven away from writing bile on one web site are going to find some place to get their fix.
And now let’s talk about another newspaper doing the right thing. This week (5/14) the Chicago Tribune in an eloquent editorial came out in favor of same sex marriage.
“Same-sex marriage once sounded radical—and to some ears it still does. But it rests on durable conservative notions: fostering enduring commitments and stable families, safeguarding the interests of children, respecting the personal freedom of individuals and keeping the state out of intimate matters. It’s not an attack on marriage but an affirmation of the magnificence of marriage.”
I could not have said it as well.
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