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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Crushing the commentary

Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2011, at 8:45 AM

This week, we had some of the anonymous bloggers on our website complain that we weren't allowing comments on a couple stories -- specifically, a couple of stories involving crimes allegedly committed here.

I didn't have a lot of sympathy.

Sometimes we block comments because we have reason to anticipate that most of the comments will be mean-spirited, and given a choice, I prefer things to be a little more civil. We get enough of a lack of civility as it is on the stories where we do allow comments.

But we always try and block comments on crime stories.

I don't care how many fourth-, fifth- or sixth-hand "facts" these people have, if they had any real first-hand information they should talking to the police, not hiding behind fictitious names in the blogosphere.

More importantly, I actually believe in the fundamental concept that a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. I know, in today's whole "Nancy Grace -- guilty, guilty, guilty" world, that is such an old-fashioned attitude, but it's an ethical point upon which I try not to waiver.

So why shouldn't I grant these people their First Amendment rights to comment anyway? After all, this paper exists because of the First Amendment. But never make the mistake that the First Amendment allows totally unfettered speech. It does not. You can't yell "fire" in a theater and you can't commit libel or slander. There are a lot more limits, beyond those, than most people realize. The First Amendment may be interpreted very broadly, which is a good thing, but it is not a blank check.

Perhaps most importantly, there's a selfish reason we try to remember to turn off comments when it comes to stories about alleged crimes. I don't want to give any defense attorney a reason to contend that adverse pre-trial publicity and a community that has already made up its mind would justify a change of venue. All those blog comments could go a long way toward demonstrating that people have already made up their minds and a person couldn't get a fair trial here.

I don't want that to happen, because the moment a trial gets moved out of county, two things happen.

First, it costs the taxpayers a ton of money.

Second, we wouldn't have the opportunity to cover the trial at that point. In fact, we'd be lucky if we even found out what the final result was. It's hard enough as it is, with just the two of us on staff here, keeping track of the motions and changes in court dates of any high-profile case in Elmore County. It approaches being nearly impossible if it gets moved out of county. It makes it really difficult to let the public know what the actual facts in evidence really are in a high-profile case.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
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Good for you Kelly, I agree wholeheartedly.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Wed, Sep 14, 2011, at 11:52 AM

Sixth paragraph (not a typo)

waiver:

A formal written statement of relinquishment

waver:

Hesitate, pause or hold back in uncertainty or unwillingness

Second use is appropriate here.

-- Posted by Idaho Al on Wed, Sep 14, 2011, at 11:57 AM

Good catch Al.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Wed, Sep 14, 2011, at 12:31 PM

cantjustwatch, I have to agree with you and echo what you said. At times, I laugh at how things are reported, take the last paragraph of the story about Anne's drowning. Really? A Vodka bottle was found at the scene and no one claimed it? I wonder who does the proof reading of these stories. Why is it necessary to print charges after her death? They mean nothing, it means nothing. She's dead!

-- Posted by ItsJustMeAgain on Wed, Sep 14, 2011, at 1:53 PM

"Sometimes we block comments because we have reason to anticipate that most of the comments will be mean-spirited,"

I like this censorship of the 1st amendment from the newspaper. Don't get me wrong I understand why you don't allow comments on some stories but do I agree with it, probably not.

It has been a liberal's drum to beat that the 1st amendment should NEVER be infringed. Now it seems it should only be infringed if they anticipate opinions or views other than their own. Instead of removing people's right to speak their minds all together why not just censor the ones that are obscene.

I don't always agree with can't justwatch but I do feel she was just asking a question that I have wanted to ask but never did. She wasn't mean or complaining about it; she just asked a question.

I guess this is how the liberal press does it, squash any opinions that are not in support of your own.

And America takes another step back.......

-- Posted by Trouble2011 on Wed, Sep 14, 2011, at 3:15 PM

Why is it when a person dies, it is reported after their death that a court proceeding was dismissed?

Those that knew the person know they can't pay the fine or fines and those that didn't know the person do they really care?

Please have a little dignity for the dead!

-- Posted by MsMarylin on Wed, Sep 14, 2011, at 3:41 PM

I really can't see when the question was asked about some events no comment could be made was complaining but guess that is the way it was taken. A simple answer to why would have been all it took instead of a blog full of more complaining.

How about the article that is still on here about the Base Dedicates Refurbishes Service Center, must have been a real crime there to not being able to post a comment as if anyone wanted to anyway.

-- Posted by Eagle_eye on Wed, Sep 14, 2011, at 4:47 PM

"Anonymous bloggers on our website" Anonymous to who?

-- Posted by skeeter on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 5:45 AM

I wonder what it would take for you (Kelly) to just put the keyboard away and take a hike????

-- Posted by bloodyknuckles on Thu, Sep 15, 2011, at 1:41 PM


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