The news media often gets a bad rap. Sometimes doubly so on their internet forums and social media outlets. While I can’t speak for large TV and internet news conglomerations, I can tell you a couple things about your average city newsroom.
The agenda of your typical newsroom is simple: News. Reporters, by and large, are invested in giving as accurate a report of a story from all sides as possible. That doesn’t stop people from seeing into a story what they want though. I’ve seen multiple occasions where we will get calls on the same story from opposing factions saying that the story was clearly favoring the other side — which typically means we’re doing our job pretty well.
Also: It may surprise some, but a newsroom is diverse — with Christians, Atheists, liberals and conservatives all working side by side.
I’ve been accused, on a few occasions, of preventing people from posting comments or deleting them. On every one of those occasions, that has not been the case.
It’s an exceptionally rare case for a comment to be deleted (usually due to a liability concern and only after discussing the comment with someone else). More often than not, your comment was posted but you’re experiencing a delay or cookie issue. If you’re patient your comment will show up, usually within 5 to 15 minutes. In cases where you can’t even post a comment, it’s likely an oversensitive spam filter or a glitch and a talk with the webmaster can resolve it.
On the rare occasion when I DO delete a comment, I make it a point to explain why to the commenter. It’s never cool to leave someone in the dark.
A healthy dose of criticism
All of this isn’t to say news organizations don’t make mistakes. And when people call us out on them, the last thing we want to do is silence them. First of all, criticism is good. It helps us improve and keeps us on our toes. Secondly, I’ve seen how people treat organizations that try to silence opposition or critique. Just as in real life, in the online world if you try to quiet someone they get louder than ever. I prefer the taste of humble pie.
SOUND OFF: Are you in social media, news, or public relations? How do you handle criticism and accusations?