For example, our "community paper," the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, has abrogated its moral and legal responsibilities, turning the comments section in the online version of the newspaper into a fetid cesspool of libel, lies, gossip, rumor, and innuendo.
This is an e-mail exchange between Daily News publisher Nathan Alford and myself:
Date: Friday, March 21, 2008 11:03 AM
From: Nathan Alford
To: Tom Forbes
Subject: Re: Libelous Comment
Size: 4 KB
Your note was received. Thank you.
You and I have visited about the positives and negatives of unmoderated public forums on the Web. One negative is that often times those engaged in public debate get poked, or become the subject of loose and unpleasant accusations.
Remember, we're not editing or filtering these comments. We view each individual as responsible for their comments. That's per our written policy, "Individuals posting libelous statements may be held individually responsible."
In this case, it sounds like that's Chris Lupke. I'd encourage you to discuss the matter further with Chris.
Tom Forbes wrote:Nathan,
Chris Lupke has left a comment on the Daily News website that states:
"It is remarkable, though, that in his frustration his only recourse is a homophobic joke. What was it last week -- nooses? Disgusting. Never ends."
If you read the entire comment thread on the "TOWN CRIER III: Lessons from the Hawkins development settlement" column, you will see that Lupke mistakenly labels the "tjkong" commentor as me. He has done this on numerous occasions and in the past I have ignored it. But this time, claiming that I am "homophobic" or tell "homophobic" jokes is libelous and injurious to my reputation (much less the Nazi allegations he also made.) I warned you about the dangers of anonymous
commenting when we had lunch several months ago. I continue to urge you to associate real names with online commentors. If you take this measure, this type of behavior will stop. This has nothing to do with either a "constructive community dialog" or the First Amendment.
I demand the "homophobic" comment be immediately deleted and Mr. Lupke notified that I am not "tjkong" and that his comments about me are way out of line. If this is not done right away, I will have no choice but to seek legal remedies to protect my name and standing in the community.
I await your prompt reply.
*Nathan H. Alford*
Moscow-Pullman Daily News Editor & Publisher
(208) 882-5561 ext. 247
Visit us on the web at:
I certainly intend to bring this matter to Lupke's attention, but not before making a public records request to see if he used his WSU account to post these comments.
And the Daily News' defense of unmoderated comments will not hold water, in my opinion, when subscribers have to pay with a credit card to access the online edition and when the identity of every poster is known to them.
I encourage you to drop Nathan Alford a line and let him know how you feel.