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Online Journalism Credibility Project: Managing Story Comments
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Managing Story Comments

Project leader: Jack Lail, director of news innovation

Knoxville News Sentinel and

How does a newsroom get the "mean" out of story comments?


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Online Credibility Roundtable on online comments
Q&A with Jack Lail
Can you briefly describe your APME Online Journalism Credibility Project?
We held a roundtable about online comments on our stories, which allowed us to hear from community leaders, active commenters and people who have been vocal opponents of commenting. We made two videos about the meeting and posted them along with some blog posts to create a larger discussion about commenting.

Why did you choose this issue?
Comments had been a troubling issue but became a high-profile focus of community attention when attorneys representing two defendants in brutal carjacking, kidnapping, rape and murder case said their clients couldn’t receive a fair trial because of anonymous comments on local media Websites. The attorneys asked a judge to either require real names on comments or order news sites to not post comments on stories about the trial.

KnoxvilleHow did you approach the issue?
We held a roundtable at a neutral site with a diverse panel and explored many of the troubling issues swirling around comment areas of news sites. The participants seemed to come away with a greater understanding of the different viewpoints on comments, and the newspaper came away with some suggestions.

What actions did your news organization take?
We implemented several policy and technology changes on how we manage comments. We have become less lenient with abusive commenters.

Associated Press Media Editors

APME is a professional network, a resource for helping editors and broadcasters improve their news coverage and newsroom operations.

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