Righteous Indignation and a Blogger’s Responsibility
The left-side of the local blogosphere is atwitter with calls to fire WPRO’s Dan Yorke for an assertion/information he let slip during his show. (I won’t repeat the comment, you can find it on your own.) However, what I did find interesting was that a similar assertion had been made in the comments section (the last one) of one of the righteously indignant blogs almost exactly two years ago. It raises an interesting question: if it’s not OK for Yorke to publicly assert something, regardless of whether or not it’s common knowledge, what responsibility do we as bloggers have to ensure that our anonymous commenters don’t do the same? Or does anonymity confer a mantle of plausible deniability for us?
I know that we at Anchor Rising let our commenters have a pretty free reign, but we have, in the past, removed comments that have made assertions that we would consider un-provable or distasteful. As part of the “new media” bloggers need to keep an eye out for such things in their comments section. I’m not trying to be holier-than-thou, after all, there are probably still a few “hearsay” comments floating around our comments sections, too. As named bloggers who have “ownership” of these sites, we are responsible for what is asserted by anonymous commenters on our blogs. Thus, it behooves us to reign in the “gossip” to help strengthen our position as “serious” news/commentary outlets. The trick is to do it without scaring away people. (I know, we’ve had this discussion before).
Update: For those interested in blogger-navel gazing, I posed a shorter version of this as a comment over at RI Future (comment #40), to which I’ve received a response (#44) and have replied (#50).