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We won’t repost Sandy Hook hoax comments

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Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 7:45 am

We recently removed online comments alleging the Sandy Hook shootings were a hoax.

In the days since, as our readers’ behest, we’ve reflected more deeply on that decision — and on the tone and texture of our online comments generally.

This is what we’ve come up with:

  • We won’t be reposting the Sandy Hook hoax comments. In fact, we’d like to guide comments away from conspiracy theories, preferably to stories and issues of general interest in Lodi and the surrounding area.
  • We are adopting a new rule, suggested by commenter Jerome Kinderman, allowing us wider latitude in taking down comments we deem inappropriate or off-topic. That may include, on a comment-by-comment basis, postings on conspiracy theories.

We’ve done much discussing and a fair bit of research before making these decisions.

A viewpoint we found particularly persuasive came from Matt DeRienzo, the group editor of several newspapers in Connecticut that covered the Sandy Hook shootings:

We asked him if his publications would post comments purporting that Sandy Hook was a hoax.

“No, we don’t and wouldn’t allow comments like this,” he responded. “We also wouldn’t allow comments saying the Holocaust never existed, or that black people are genetically inferior, or any other number of extremely offensive, malicious, irresponsible mistruths.

“From my perspective, if you’ve committed to moderating and building a responsible discussion, you have to make these calls, and it has zero to do with the First Amendment or freedom of speech,” DeRienzo wrote. “If you don’t want to do that, just go straight 4Chan in your comments and allow anything. But I don’t think that would serve our readers or community very well.”

(4Chan is an imageboard website where anything goes. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it. Proceed with caution. )

DeRienzo underlines a good point: This is our forum to guide and manage. We don’t want it being dominated by extreme views. Or lengthy digressions into obscure or speculative topics.

We’ve thought about our forum being a free-flowing marketplace of ideas, where the strongest thinking and arguments prevail.

But do readers avoid our marketplace altogether because it is simply too extreme or insular?

If we think of our online forum as a coffee shop or corner pub, where conversation is invited, don’t we want the environment to be comfortable and inviting — not shrill or irrelevant?

To help us nurture that kind of environment, we are changing our rules and terms of use policy. We are adding a general rule that gives us wide latitude to deny user submissions. The new rule is based on suggestions we received, and our research into the polices of other news companies:

“We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.”

We have also added a rule forbidding trolls, which we will also enforce at our discretion. Here’s a good definition of a troll.

At this time, we are not going to be create a rule specifically forbidding comments containing references to conspiracy theories. However, we respectfully ask that commenters do not use this forum to argue conspiracy theories. There are numerous websites devoted to conspiracies if that is something you’re interested in. Please take your conspiracy discussions there.

We began accepting comments on Lodinews.com eight years ago. Our goal has always been to provide a forum for readers to intelligently comment on and debate — with respect for each other’s opinions — the topics contained in our news stories, letters to the editor, editorials and opinion columns.

With our readers’ help, we’ll continue to pursue that goal.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

30 comments:

  • Walter Chang posted at 12:41 pm on Mon, Jul 28, 2014.

    Walt Posts: 1144


    "...factored in the 'NO 'votes would be over 70%!"

    Andrew, may I be as presumptuous as you??

    No clue as usual. I'm against censorship.

    I don't care about your looney postings as I enjoy the shenanigans that typically follow.

    I miss the freedom of the unmoderated forum.

    I miss Darrell Baumbach!!

    [lol]

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 7:47 pm on Sat, Jul 26, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    I have NEVER violated rule #4 and you can't provide any evidence to substantiate your unsubstantiated allegation.

    P.S. Re-read what you just wrote Mike. You violated rule #4 and #9 AGAIN.[lol]

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 7:38 pm on Sat, Jul 26, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Have you looked at the poll results lately Mike?

    If Walter's multiple votes weren't factored in the 'NO 'votes would be over 70%!
    [lol]

     
  • Mike Adams posted at 4:30 pm on Sat, Jul 26, 2014.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1438

    Really? You violate #4 and #9 every time you post.
    You're a serial violator.

     
  • Mike Adams posted at 2:20 pm on Sat, Jul 26, 2014.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1438

    [beam]
    No one said you could only vote once.

    Good job Walter!!

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 9:03 am on Sat, Jul 26, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    BAMBOOZLE - transitive verb : to deceive by underhanded methods

    "I voted in the poll multiple times" That was fun - thanks![wink]

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 8:39 am on Sat, Jul 26, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Apparently rules 4,5,6,7,8,&9 no longer exist...[rolleyes]

     
  • Walter Chang posted at 3:40 pm on Fri, Jul 25, 2014.

    Walt Posts: 1144

    From my Webster's Vest Pocket Dictionary, 1981 edition...

    troll n. : dwarf or giant of folklore inhabiting caves or hills

    Folks, my outdated dictionary is of no use here.

    So I must refer you to Jerry's expertise in this matter.

    [lol]

     
  • Walter Chang posted at 3:27 pm on Fri, Jul 25, 2014.

    Walt Posts: 1144

    Folks, look what I found in my pocket...

    A Webster's Vest Pocket Dictionary, 1981 edition.

    It's well worn and tattered but still very usable. I bought it at the Galt flea market many years ago for a dollar but I had to fetch my glasses as the print is very small!

    Let's look up a couple of words and their respective meanings, shall we??

    Hypocrisy - n. : a feigning to be what one is not - a hypocrite n., hypocritical adj. (page 154)

    Pompous - adj. : pretentiously dignified - pompously adj. (page 244)

    That was fun - thanks!

    [wink]

     
  • Mike Adams posted at 2:26 pm on Fri, Jul 25, 2014.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1438

    Simon: Let's face it. andrew copies and pastes that which only suits his message at the moment. His entire history here is rife with doctored videos, forged documents, half-truths, and out right lies.

    It was no accident that he only mentioned part of the General Mills story. To include the whole package would have negated what ever point he was trying to make.

    So how do you deal with a person like that?

     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 10:57 am on Fri, Jul 25, 2014.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2362

    "Troll" defined: "In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion." See Rule. No. 9. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet))

    Considering that at least as far as the 11 posted Rules of Conduct are concerned, my providing comments in accordance with those very rules, comments such as Mr. Barrow's above fit the definition of "Troll" quite well.

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 10:43 am on Fri, Jul 25, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    First, the fact that you were "offended" does not make me wrong Mr. Barrow.[lol]

    Second, the LNS's poll indicates that the majority of the LNS's readers don't share your opinion.[lol]

     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 10:27 am on Fri, Jul 25, 2014.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2362

    I think I'm beginning to understand you, Jien Kaur. As it suits you, you come across as ignorant to the English language: "Still many forms in the English [you] do not capture" in order to appear as if you don't understand. But then you surprise us with your oh-so-comprehendible post where you accuse me of having "big friends with newspaper . . . in [my] pocket." Now who's insulting who Jien Kaur?

    Moreover, I never meant to intimate that you are in any way "stupid," as I am sure you fully understand, but with your broken English and admitted lack of understanding, you have come across as ignorant - not in the negative context of the word, of course.

    As a guest columnist, writer of more than a few letters and a poster of comments on this forum, I am privileged to have such an arrangement with the Lodi News-Sentinel. Yet, I receive no payment for my columns and I pay full price for the delivery of the News-Sentinel to my door, yet only rarely do I ever remove the rubber band to read it. I get what I need and want from the online edition.

    So don't think for one moment I have any power to effectuate change or to alter their decision-making processes unless they ask me to provide an opinion - which is a rare occurrence. Yet, this is precisely what they did in this case. But it wasn't asked specifically of me - their request for suggestions regarding the issue of removing Mr. Liebich's post because someone here was offended was offered to ALL readers of the News-Sentinel, including you. They just happened to think my offering made some sense and then incorporated it into their new Rule No. 11. Hardly in my pocket.

    But nice try Jien Kaur.

     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 10:12 am on Fri, Jul 25, 2014.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2362

    I certainly don't think Mr. Liebich was in any way "wrong" with either his post or even the link he provided to a YouTube video. Any wrongdoing was on the part of the News-Sentinel that summarily removed his post simply because someone was "offended." That's it in a nutshell. While I attempted to provide a solution that was in some way considered within new Rule No. 11, I believe we're left with more uncertainty than when this whole matter began.

    Anyone who follows these posts with any regularity at all understands that Mr. Liebich likes to think "outside the box." Rather than rely on conventional wisdom to rule his thinking, he's much more creative with alternative possibilities. Some call those conspiracy theories; others might see those as I do - possible but not necessarily plausible. Nevertheless, I do believe that sometimes they're more right than wrong.

    Yet here we have more ambiguity through what I've already commented on having to do with the News-Sentinel's respectful request that we kind of stay away from such conspiracy theories - but at least at this time they might not be prohibited according to the Rules of Conduct. I am confident, however that when (certainly not if) Mr. Liebich (or anyone else for that matter) chooses to veer off in that direction, there will be complaints filed and soon there will be a new Rule No. 12 once and for all prohibiting any so-called conspiracy theories from gracing the pages of the Lodi News-Sentinel, both in its newsprint edition and online.

    After all, they would much rather the entire paper be dedicated to home-grown news with home-grown comments provided thereto. Not much controversy there, huh? Oh, but just wait and see - still keeping within the bounds of Rule No. 6, there will still be plenty of opportunities to segue into other areas. Such is the nature of debate.

    But one thing is for certain: NO ONE is forced to read what any of us post here and NO ONE is forced to post a comment. In fact, I suggest that this be made Rule No. 1 - verbatim. Perhaps if that concept is comprehended prior to even thinking about posting a comment, a whole lot of fuss might be avoided.

     
  • Eric Barrow posted at 8:31 am on Fri, Jul 25, 2014.

    Eric Barrow Posts: 1561

    Are you done, have you not had more than your share of comments on this subject? You were wrong and you can post till you are blue in the face it will not change that.

     
  • Jien Kaur posted at 7:51 am on Fri, Jul 25, 2014.

    Jien Kaur Posts: 245

    Question asked to the Mr. Kinderman who reply that I am quite certain Mr. Hanner, et al., fully understand what I mean - we have a mutual understanding that perhaps you can't understand or even begin to comprehend."

    I sorry I not understand the very close friend you have with the newspaper employees Mr. Jerome. Where I am from we call that in your pocket but I did not know that was what you have. Please do not think I so stupid to not understand or comprehend as you say now that you tell of big friends with newspaper.

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 7:47 pm on Thu, Jul 24, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Rule #12

    The LNS is the final arbiter of truth. The LNS reserves the right, at our discretion, to decide what is the truth. This may include removing or monitoring any factual information that we choose to ignore, violates the spirit of wilfull ignorance, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be censored.

     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 5:10 pm on Thu, Jul 24, 2014.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2362

    "At this time, we are not going to be create a rule specifically forbidding comments containing references to conspiracy theories. However, we respectfully ask that commenters do not use this forum to argue conspiracy theories." You're not "forbidding," but "please don't do it?" How are we to interpret such an ambiguous statement?

    So just how long will it be before Rule No. 12 regarding conspiracy theories is posted? C'mon! Just what is wrong with a good, healthy argument regarding subjects that are open to interpretation beyond what some might believe to be "case closed?"

    Is this really supposed to be some kind of coffee clutch where are pinkies are extended and disagreements are met with nothing more than fluttered eyelashes? No, I don't want name-calling or other such immature antics, but if we're not considered adult enough to agree to disagree perhaps it's really time to shut this whole thing down.

    Frankly, I don't think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone on November 22, 1963. So if someone writes a letter or column on the anniversary of JFK's death we won't be open to discuss alternative theories of the crime? What about UFO's? How about those who truly believe that it was the U.S. Government that felled the World Trade Centers and that the aircraft that flew into them were navigated by remote control? No? Too controversial? Or are we simply to agree with whatever the "official" reports tell us to accept as the final word?

    Jien Kaur - I am in no way trying to insult the News-Sentinel. I just disagree and/or need further clarification regarding this non-Rule that is really just a respectful request to refrain.

     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 4:55 pm on Thu, Jul 24, 2014.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2362

    I'm sorry, but where I referred to Rule No. 10, I actually meant Rule No. 11.

     
  • Walter Chang posted at 4:39 pm on Thu, Jul 24, 2014.

    Walt Posts: 1144

    Simon and everyone...

    I have a confession to make.

    I voted in the poll multiple times.

    Sorry

    [whistling]

     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 4:13 pm on Thu, Jul 24, 2014.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2362

    Just what are you suggesting, Jien Kaur? That just because the News-Sentinel and I worked together to resolve one matter would mean that I have no right to disagree with them on another? Nevertheless, please understand I certainly did not mean to insult the newspaper or anyone involved with it. But after all, isn't this the very forum designed to discuss and debate differing ideas?

    Also, keep in mind that a compromise was reached here - the "offending" comments were not restored, much to my chagrin, but at least in the future it will be understood that they have the authority to do so - based upon the posted "Rules of Conduct," which were vague and ambiguous before now. Naturally, there may be some who will still take issue with how they deal with comments based upon Rule No. 10.

    I am quite certain Mr. Hanner, et al., fully understand what I mean - we have a mutual understanding that perhaps you can't understand or even begin to comprehend.

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 12:32 pm on Thu, Jul 24, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Seriously Simon? You said that I, "failed to mention that General Mills quickly reversed the policy — which was also covered by the New York Times" which certainly implied it was my responsibility to inform you of the reversal.

     
  • Simon Birch posted at 10:36 am on Thu, Jul 24, 2014.

    Simon Birch - Online Manager Posts: 164 Staff

    I didn't say it was your responsibility to report news that has local interest to Lodi. I pointed out that you misinterpreted part of the blog post. I agreed that the General Mills story was of local interest. And I noted that the link you provided tells only half of that story.

     
  • Jien Kaur posted at 9:59 am on Thu, Jul 24, 2014.

    Jien Kaur Posts: 245

    Perhaps I am not reading right. Still many forms in the English I do not capture. If the Jerome Kinderman was reason for the poll (that is correct? poll to get ideas?) and also new rule is made at the Jeromes suggest then why does the Jerome Kinderman make insults to the newspaper? A cortesy was given but seems ill was it received.

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 9:53 am on Thu, Jul 24, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    When did it become my responsibility to report news that has local interest to Lodi? Isn't that the LNS's job? Did I miss the LNS's coverage of the General Mills right to sue policy and reversal?

     
  • Simon Birch posted at 8:53 am on Thu, Jul 24, 2014.

    Simon Birch - Online Manager Posts: 164 Staff

    Andrew,

    Here's the exact statement from the blog post:

    "In fact, we’d like to guide comments away from conspiracy theories, preferably to stories and issues of general interest in Lodi and the surrounding area."

    We're not talking here about our coverage of local news but our wish that commenters would focus more about discussing local issues.

    Nevertheless, you're correct that the General Mills "right to sue" story has local interest to Lodi.

    However, you failed to mention that General Mills quickly reversed the policy — which was also covered by the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/business/general-mills-reverses-itself-on-consumers-right-to-sue.html) — and the company apologized to its customers in a blog post (http://www.blog.generalmills.com/2014/04/weve-listened-and-were-changing-our-legal-terms-back-to-what-they-were/).

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 9:51 pm on Wed, Jul 23, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    If the LNS wants to cover "stories and issues of general interest in Lodi and the surrounding area" why haven't they covered this story?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/17/business/when-liking-a-brand-online-voids-the-right-to-sue.html?_r=0

     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 12:50 pm on Wed, Jul 23, 2014.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2362

    Mr. Cronin, the original letter to which the comment regarding Sandy Hook was attributed had nothing to do with it. However, as many conversations tend to go, things sort of "morphed" in that direction, the comment was posted along with a link to a Youtube video, someone was offended, and here we are with what hopefully is a viable solution.

    However, I do disagree that comments should be posted "preferably to stories and issues of general interest in Lodi and the surrounding area," as Lodians are not just affected by local matters, but by national and even international events. In fact, I believe that the management's decision to make the News-Sentinel primarily Lodi-oriented was the beginning of its downfall. Following that mindset came the decision to stop publishing on Mondays. Prior to that was the foolish choice to create Saturday/Sunday combined newspaper.

    In spite of 24-hour cable news and news on demand through the Internet that now arrives on our smart phones and other portable devices, there are still those who enjoy a newsprint version. But just like libraries, I suppose that it won't be long at all until the big presses in the basement will cease to roll out a quasi-daily edition of the Lodi News-Sentinel. It's only a matter of time.

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 10:11 am on Wed, Jul 23, 2014.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Coveniently Rich Hanner and Simon Birch have failed to mention the results of their 'Do you agree with the decision to remove comments claiming the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., was hoax?' poll. I wonder why?

    Certainly it has nothing to do with the fact that the majority of Lodi News Sentinel readers disagreed with thier position. Conspiracy theory? No. Conspiracy fact.

     
  • Todd Cronin posted at 8:17 am on Wed, Jul 23, 2014.

    Todd Posts: 125

    "We won’t be reposting the Sandy Hook hoax comments. In fact, we’d like to guide comments away from conspiracy theories, preferably to stories and issues of general interest in Lodi and the surrounding area."

    Then why did you even print the story then???

     

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