The Washington Post shut down one of its blogs Thursday after the newspaper’s ombudsman raised the ire of readers by writing that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to the Democrats as well as to Republicans.
At the center of a congressional bribery investigation, Abramoff gave money to Republicans while he had his clients donate to both parties, though mostly to Republicans.
In her Sunday column, ombudsman Deborah Howell wrote that Abramoff “had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties,” prompting a wave of nasty reader postings on post.blog.
There were so many personal attacks that the newspaper’s staff could not “keep the board clean, there was some pretty filthy stuff,” and so the Post shut down comments on the blog, or Web log, said Jim Brady, executive editor of washingtonpost.com.
“We’re not giving up on the concept of having a healthy public dialogue with our readers, but this experience shows that we need to think more carefully about how we do it,” Brady wrote on the newspaper’s Web site. “There are things that we said we would not allow, including personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech.”
From Washington Post.com
The Editors Discuss Site Policies, Design and Goals
Posted at 04:22 PM ET, 01/19/2006
Comments Turned Off
As of 4:15 p.m. ET today, we have shut off comments on this blog indefinitely.
At its inception, the purpose of this blog was to open a dialogue about this site, the events of the day, the journalism of The Washington Post Company and other related issues. Among the things that we knew would be part of that discussion would be the news and opinion coming from the pages of The Washington Post and washingtonpost.com. We knew a lot of that discussion would be critical in nature. And we were fine with that. Great journalism companies need feedback from readers to stay sharp.
But there are things that we said we would not allow, including personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech. Because a significant number of folks who have posted in this blog have refused to follow any of those relatively simple rules, we’ve decided not to allow comments for the time being. It’s a shame that it’s come to this. Transparency and reasoned debate are crucial parts of the Web culture, and it’s a disappointment to us that we have not been able to maintain a civil conversation, especially about issues that people feel strongly (and differently) about.
We’re not giving up on the concept of having a healthy public dialogue with our readers, but this experience shows that we need to think more carefully about how we do it. Any thoughtful feedback on that (or any other issue) is welcome, and you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Executive Editor, washingtonpost.com
UPDATE, 7pm: As you might expect, we’re getting a ton of e-mail on this, and while I can’t answer those e-mails individually, I’ll address the two main points being made, that 1) we’re afraid of being criticized and, 2) that were no personal attacks, profanity or hate speech in any of the comments.
On the first point, washingtonpost.com has done an awful lot to be as transparent as possible. We’ve started a ton of blogs, we’ve linked out to bloggers who are writing (often negatively) about Post content and we’ve made journalists from The Post and post.com available to answer questions online on a daily basis. So I find it hard to make a case that we’re unwilling to be criticized. What we’re not willing to do is allow the comments area to turn into a place where it’s OK to unleash vicious, name-calling attacks on anyone, whether they are Post reporters, public figures or other commenters. And that’s exactly what was happening. That leads into the second complaint. The reason that people were not routinely seeing the problematic posts I mentioned were that we were trying to remove them as fast as we could in order to preserve the reasoned arguments many others were making. We removed hundreds of these posts over the past few days, and it was becoming a significant burden on us to try and keep the comments area free of profanity and name-calling. So we eventually chose to turn off comments until we can come up with a better way to handle situations like this, where we have a significant amount of people who refuse to abide by the rules we set out.
Wild Thing’s comment………..
This reminds me of something….. The first computer I bought was in 1997. I had been watching MSNBC and CNN about the Clintons.Night after night, day after day the endless sickening things they did. I was so outraged at all the ‘gates’ and the crimes, dead bodies surrounding their rise to power to keep them in power and their disrespect for our White House, our Military etc. I had to get a computer. The first day I had it I asked the man that hooked it all up for me……..” how do I get to MSNBC to their forums they call them on TV?” He had no clue what I was talking about but he showed me how to do a search to find it and I was all set. I thanked him and told him I had some dragons to slay. Always a girl of action haha I spent the first 5 hours ( that felt like 15 minutes online) searching for information to back up what I wanted to say. I knew it my gut they were criminals but I wanted quotes, dates etc.
Next I headed to MSNBC and started in. Chose a name to use and zap, pow,bang, k-boom I was having a ball. I was ranting to beat the band and telling how I felt about Bill and Hillary. Then I asked someone that was agreeing with me how did he post articles and photos. He was kind enough to tell me in an email and a whole new world opened up to me.
Back to the point sorry. haha What does this have to do with a newspaper online having to close their blog? Because in all the ranting I did, in all the furry of anger and rock solid rage that I had in me, not once did I personally attack another poster. I knew it would diminish the character I was trying to show was missing in the slime of the Clinton’s. The attacks I noticed came all from the left to all of us posting truth about Bill and Hillary. The attacks were vile, and they sometimes included threats. Physical threats to some of us, enough so that even MSNBC moderators sent emails to those of us getting them telling us they had banned the poster for a time out and the rest was up to us how we wanted to handle it. Many evenings I would sit and post with tears streaming down my face from the hurtful things posted to not only myself but to others and the ones being attacked a lot were Veterans and good people. I noticed something, even though I was crying, the attacks only made me more determined and stronger. It amazed me how this happened.
So why if the Blog at the Washington Post experienced the horrors from the left did they not just become stronger. More determined to take a stand instead of shutting down. True shutting down makes a bold statement too, but it is also a form of giving in which is more like taking two steps back instead of forward. I consider it a compliment if the left attacks. It means nerves are being hit and success has occurred.
It is a fact that liberals are mean and vicious. They have learned well over the years that they cannot win on honor, they have none. They cannot win with the truth, that is foreign to them. They DO win by being bullies, by hate speech and saying the word fight over and over again. They win because they have the media on their side to promote their lies and propaganda. They specialize in hate speech and slander. They thrust their finger in ones face and raise their voices to try to intimidate those they are speaking to and have used the monotone voice like Hillary does of the old Communist regime leaders as they did their speeches to their followers on the streets in Russia.
I am not surprised the Washington Post shut down a blog of theirs, just disappointed in them for their weakness. The left will look at it as a win, a victory believe me, and not be shamed by it at all.