Editorial: New online policy

Published 10:07 am Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and one of the people that I enjoy reading on the Internet. He wrote a column back in March about online comments that I really enjoyed. He wrote about “this new medium, the Internet, and how newspapers were posting stories on it, and how someone decided to create a forum where readers could discuss and debate what they just read.” Great idea! We could share ideas and solve problems and help each other out. Local leaders could share their likes and dislikes about certain issues and we could share our ideas about those ideas. Perfect.
Mr. Pitts stated that “unfortunately, the reality of the thing has proved to be something else entirely.” These sites have “become havens for a level of crudity, bigotry, meanness and plain nastiness that shocks the tattered remnants of our propriety.”
I have to agree. I have studied and did my due diligence on many of the local and national websites. I have studied many of the top media sites that have unsigned comments and I found that for every person who offers a quality, thought-provoking comment on the story posted, there are several who are so far off point they couldn’t as Pitts Jr. states “find their way back with a compass and road map.”
Mr. Pitts refreshingly also states that “For every person who brings up some telling fact, there are a dozen whose “facts” are fantasies freshly made up to suit the exigencies of arguments they otherwise cannot win.” Locally, I have seen valedictorians not lauded for their hard work and intelligence, but for how a picture was taken of them. I saw venom come out in simple articles because of jealousy and hate. Well that will now change.
Albertleatribune.com as of last night at 5 p.m. has changed its site. You will need to register. We will then verify you as a user. You also will need to register your first and last name just like a letter to the editor. What we are trying to gain in this new site is to have more of an intelligent conversation that aides our community. We want more debate and less name calling. We want ideas exchanged in a civil manner. We want you to grow.
That’s my opinion. If you don’t like it, well, at least you know who to blame.

Scott Schmeltzer
Albert Lea Tribune Media

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