Editors at the Rochester Post-Bulletin won’t clean up your online mess anymore.
P-B managing editor Jay Furst announced Monday that editors will begin screening comments before they appear; currently, they delete offending comments after they’ve appeared beneath a story.
The new policy reflects MinnPost’s approach (though we also use hardworking volunteers). However, it doesn’t always work out: this summer, the Fargo Forum abandoned staff pre-review for a separate comment-only site that promotes or hides opinions based on reader ratings.
Furst says there was no single comment or key event that prompted the change. The P-B gets about 300 comments a day and Furst says only “a relatively small number of repeat offenders” cause trouble, so parceling out the work is do-able. He estimates the chore may take a couple of hours per day, and has worked at the Moline Dispatch, another paper in the P-B’s group.
Pre-review does slow down “real time ” discussions, but so-called trolls can’t hijack discussions. In the comment thread to Furst’s comment announcement, some worried P-B editors would spike comments critical of local institutions such as “Mayo, IBM or the school district” but Furst insists tone and language, not point-of-view, will be the trigger-tripper.