Journalist: I’m obsessed with reading the awful comments on Philly.com

Philadelphia Weekly
Not all Philly.com commenters are racist, “but most are,” says Tara Murtha. “Calling black people animals, references to monkeys, phrases like ‘welcome to the jungle, baby’ and ‘That’s how it go in da hood’ are all standard comments beneath crime stories on Philly.com when the perp is black.” But Murtha can’t stop reading the atrocious remarks. “Averting my eyes is not my style. I read grand jury reports and listen to police radio.”

Philly.com editor Wendy Warren tells Murtha that the anonymous comments problem is enough to drive her “completely insane,” and that she’s working on it. A new moderation system will require commenters to sign in through Facebook. Murtha’s reaction: “I have to admit part of me is disappointed, even though this is probably a great step for the 99 percent — the would-be commenters scared off by the elite 1 percent hogging up the bandwidth.” | Earlier: News sites using Facebook Comments see higher quality discussions.

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  • Anonymous
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Fenris-Badwulf/654546485 Fenris Badwulf

    A good idea for the Philly press would be to print crime articles in proportion to the racial balance of Philly.  I am sure there is lots of white gang activity, white youth ‘flash mobs’, and white whatever that could be reported. 

    Either that, not report all this crime that is drawing out the racists.  I am sure the police and justice system is doing a good job of fighting crime.  Why report stuff that will make the far more evil crime of racist comments worse? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Fenris-Badwulf/654546485 Fenris Badwulf

    A good idea for the Philly press would be to print crime articles in proportion to the racial balance of Philly.  I am sure there is lots of white gang activity, white youth ‘flash mobs’, and white whatever that could be reported. 

    Either that, not report all this crime that is drawing out the racists.  I am sure the police and justice system is doing a good job of fighting crime.  Why report stuff that will make the far more evil crime of racist comments worse? 

  • JH

    If you really want to get depressed about humanity, read the comments on any Yahoo article. It could be about dog grooming and somehow someone will find a way to make a racist comment about Obama.

  • http://twitter.com/BonzoDog1 BonzoDog1

    The problem of publications becoming conveyors of hate speech and disinformation was solved a century ago when newspapers began to confirm the identity of authors of letters to the editor.
    Today, managers want the page views but don’t want to pay people to police the discussion, so the publications have become purveyors of hate speech. The disinformation comes through in too many so-called objective news reports because the same bean-counters have slashed reporting and editing staff.

  • Anonymous

    As the critic James Wood once put it to me, there are some things that shouldn’t be given the dignity of print. 

  • Anonymous

    Of course. But what’s your point, that they should do anything and everything to get them? My point is that the papers are knowingly publishing racist and other terrible material. Your counter is, I assume, that it doesn’t matter what they publish, as long as it draws people to their sites. So, hardcore porn? “Faces of Death”-type photos? 

    There are considerations in the news business besides what sells (or anyway, there used to be). It’s intellectually dishonest (maybe to yourself) to simply argue that it’s “just a business.” If that were the case, the business wouldn’t exist at all, because it’s not lucrative.

  • Anonymous

    “Page views.”

    Which is something newspapers have gone after since the 1800s.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s not pretend this is anything beyond the Inky, the NY Post, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and lots of other papers knowingly publishing these comments. They own the sites. The comments are published on those sites, all the time, every day. The papers are responsible. Case closed. I’m not real sympathetic to their complaints about how difficult a thing it is for them to deal with.

    And let’s face it, even if the comments on newspaper sites aren’t racist, how often are they actually worthy of being read? How often do they actually contribute to the discussion? Almost never. Political stories are filled with “rethuglican” this and “dimmycrat” that. Obama is a socialist. Palin is dumb. Etc. What’s the point? Oh, right. Pageviews.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like Philly Inq is doing a poor job banning bad actors and racists.

    Comments are hard to manage. If you cannot, and you have a bevy of racist ones, cut comments off. The world will go on. With that said, “welcome to the jungle” is not a good example of a racist. The poster could easily be non-white.

    –bm2

    –bm