Thursday, May 08, 2008

Not An Easy Gig

Many newspapers with online editions now have a place at the bottom of articles where readers can post their comments about the article. Like everything else about the anonymous world of the Internet, this brings out lots of nasty people making nasty comments. It seems to me many people just use these forums to vent their anger over the sorry state of the their own lives, rather than contributing any thoughtful comment about the newspaper article in question. I much preferred the “old days” when if you wanted a letter to the editor published, you had to give the newspaper your real name and phone number so they could call and verify you were who you said you were—and you had to have your name printed with the letter. This cut down on some of the seriously deranged commentary that otherwise would have occurred.

My father’s motto was: “Let’s all be nice.” He usually meant that in the form of an order rather than a suggestion. The subtext was, “If you can’t say anything pleasant, just be quiet.” He’d be shocked to see the rudeness that passes for “discussion” on the Internet. I also doubt he’d waste his time reading any of it.

I’ve been noticing in some of the NFL articles in various newspapers that the comments being posted have a common thread: “This article is so boring.” “This writer has nothing new to say.”

It’s called the offseason, people. The writer doesn’t have anything new to say because nothin’ is happening. We bring this situation of weak content on ourselves because we visit our football web sites every day, the newspaper takes note of the huge number of visitors and assigns writers to come up with “fresh” content every day. Maybe we should be a little more understanding of the struggles these writers go through.

Being a newspaper writer or columnist is not an easy gig, even when exciting things are happening. News-wise, the NFL is in the doldrums this time of year. There’s nothing the writers can do about it. Maybe we should cut them some slack. How about posting things like: “Great grammar in that article! Congrats” or “I always learn new vocabulary words when I read your stories. Keep up the good work.”

Imagine that, a kinder, gentler Internet.

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