Do not feed the trolls
“Why don’t you write a letter to the editor,” used to be the automatic response from reporters when a member of the public took issue with an article they had written.
It was a polite way to say “Leave me alone. I’m on deadline.” But it was also the only way the public could get their viewpoints published.
Online forums on news media websites have changed that. Don’t like the way a labour strike was reported? Got your own viewpoint on the latest conflict in the Middle East? No problem, forums let you have your say and hold the news media accountable.
Unfortunately, some people are going to abuse this opportunity – lacing their comments with four-letter words, rascist and sexist remarks and statements that make lawyers cringe (or smile). These people are sometimes referred to as trolls. Despite some of the negatives of online forums, news media websites keep them up and running as they try to build and facilitate online communities. That’s why news organizations hire editors to moderate forums and keep things civil.