More News, No Crap

Of all the small media operations in the state, The New Haven Independent, run by editor Paul Bass, is among the best. In addition to being a pioneer in local online media, it is a model of journalistic integrity.

Bass proved this again recently when he decided to suspend, perhaps permanently, the posting of reader comments on the bottoms of stories.

Bass and his colleagues had been moderating their comment boards and eliminating all the crap that they inevitably (and sadly) bring; but they were being overwhelmed. One particularly nasty comment sneaked through, apparently.

“It became an all-consuming task to keep up with,” Bass explained later. “And we were failing at it. I concluded we don’t have the resources to do it right; and maybe it’s not necessarily our role anymore, anyway, given the rise of social media.”

As a veteran of the Comment Wars myself, I applaud Bass’s move and, unlike writer Dan Kennedy, don’t think that a news site without a trailer-load of  drivel is of reduced value. That’s what Facebook and blogs like this one are for.

In fact, given the enormous amount of time, money and effort a news organization must devote to pan an ounce of value from tons of online mud, I think the public is better served when those resources are put into original reporting.

Certainly there is not enough of that these days.


2 Responses to “More News, No Crap”

  1. 1 whatever

    Look, I don’t mean to be a cranky naysayer, but adoration of Paul Bass’s projects goes sorely unchecked. He and his publication have become a sacred cows.

    I humbly submit that this is possible because he runs a mostly legitimate, old-fashioned news-packed local where there are no longer ANY left.

    However, this leaves his publication the only sacred cow left in New Haven. His fans have descended into the depths of the most shameless, uncritical boosterism and constitute a machine that rivals Mayor Destefano’s.

    There are flaws at NHI: For example, it is hell holding it accountable when it errs and it can fight dirty behind the scenes and even at times in public.

    It will refuse to consider newsworthy issues associated with anyone on its enemy list.

    It spins public opinion when it comes to how NHI is perceived and portrayed and on attempts to hold it accountable and it does so as well as any marketing guru does. It’s blind fan base is happy to turn a blind eye to that and happily facilitates his need to mob the poor deliverer of any reasonable effort to hold it accountable or increase the NHI’s transparency on its news decisions.

    Any close reader has seen this.

    But this doesn’t stop extreme hyperbole of NHI’s virtues from ruling the day.

    Here you call it a “model of journalistic integrity.”

    Elsewhere he is described, practically, as the savior of democracy in New Haven, even a savior in spirtual terms: One commenter at the Yale Herald said this of him: “Amazing man. Dedicated. Trustworthy and kind.”

    At least they retained a lower-case “k” for kind!

    Another, this: ‘ “Transforming strangers into neighbors” not only the height of journalism and democracy but spirituality too! Thanks for all Paul. ‘

    The “height” of “spirituality?”

    And this in an article that points out that Paul’s “wife has to remind him not to read other people’s mail.”

    Apparently, at least with mail, he can’t tell the difference between legitimate access and criminal access.

    But, seriously, the proof comes when he is called to task to be accountable and transparent, and that sometimes comes up. To give a fair hearing to an issue, to converse on it and look at evidence and decide whether to cover something, after looking at it. That comes up sometimes and the response is suprising and mostly behind the scenes. Reactionary is not to strong a word for it.

    That is when it gets mean. Forget any notion that what will follow will be fair, decent, collegial or make sense or jibe with the Messianic rhetoric that all of you on this uncritical bandwagon are so generous with.

    As for the NHI’s prouncements about why it is suspending comments — this is a guy who said in an interview in Sept 2011 that the comments were mostly good and one of the most important parts of the NHI. Now, come Feb, he claims the election comments in Nov were nasty.

    Because he moderates comments and has a published policy about moderation one wonders if this announcement about suspending comments was a reaction to a fear that he is not immune from a lawsuit over comments he posted that slipped through the net or something he didn’t post — overall inconsistency.

    You can Ra Ra Ra uncritically and irresponsibly about the NHI. I for one, have no reason to assume journalistic symmetry, in other words, that it believes what it preaches goes for it as well. I have no interest in being drunk on this OK daily webzine with the mean and sometimes provocatively unfair editor.

    And I never give a hall pass to any institution or corp., public or private, including a newspaper, when it comes to ideals of democratic discourse or anything else. A news outlet gets as much scrutiny as anything else – surely it should be able to handle as much as it dishes out and with as much integrity and honesty as it demands others do.

  2. 2 Janet Koch

    Wow. Don’t hold back, Whatever …

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