Monday, April 09, 2007

Civility and Incivility in Old and New Media

The New York Times reports on a proposal to create a blogger civility code that would offer guidelines for dealing with the nastiness that sometimes erupts online:
Chief among the recommendations is that bloggers consider banning anonymous comments left by visitors to their pages and be able to delete threatening or libelous comments without facing cries of censorship.
Bloggers, not surprisingly, like to point out that the mainstream media can hardly hold themselves up as pillars of civility when it comes to comments, anonymous or otherwise. Here in Delaware, the News Journal has had a difficult time managing civility in readers' comments, as we can see in this sample from comments on a story today on a shooting in Wilmington:
For those in need of a translation, I'm guessing that "b on b crime" means black on black crime.
Don Imus, who for years has gotten a free ride from his establishment buddies, is in trouble over these comments about a college basketball team (transcript via Media Matters for America):

From the April 4 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning:

IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between -- a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.
ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night -- seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.
IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --
McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.
IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.

It should be noted that Mr. McGuirk isn't some random, ranting caller but the show's executive producer. It should also be noted that Imus isn't a fringe shock jock, but regularly welcomes mainstream media figures and leading politicians (including Joe Biden and a number of his Senate colleagues) as his guests.
As for whether last week's comments were out of character for Imus, Media Matters has provided a helpful rundown of some recent remarks, including this characterization of Barack Obama:
On the February 2 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, the show's executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, claimed that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has "a Jew-hating name."
As for my humble blog, I have not had much trouble with nasty comments. To be fair, TommyWonk is a relatively highminded (or shall I say boring) blog with a modest readership. In the two years I've been online, I can count the number of comments I've deleted for objectionable content on one hand. I recall deleting one or two comments that referred to other humans as animals and one or two that described another commenter as a body part.
Having managed to maintain a civil tone in my modest little corner of the blogosphere, I don't have much sympathy for media stars like Imus who have made millions pushing the bounds of political discourse.
Update: The pixels on this post were barely dry when MSNBC and CBS radio announced a two week suspension for Imus. Cue anti-PC backlash...

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:47 PM, April 09, 2007  
Blogger TommyWonk said...

Based on my stated standards, I decided to delete the first comment, which characterized Mr. Imus as engaging in a nonstandard sexual practice:

"The I man is a [noun gerund]."

7:59 PM, April 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took a shot. What good are stated standards if they are not tested from time to time?

10:28 PM, April 09, 2007  
Blogger TommyWonk said...

And a nicely aimed shot it was.

7:07 AM, April 10, 2007  
Anonymous Al said...

The sponsors will ultimately make the decision for Imus regardless of his meeting with the Rudgers BB team. Today some have already made their decision. The sad truth is that nearly everything on morning radio (and afternoon radio to)is offensive to someone. Although a thinning of the ranks is in order, Imus should not be among them. You made the comment yourself that he often interviews other media types, politicians and other interesting people. This type of programming isn't available anywhere else on the free media.

And..........the Phillies leave the bases loaded -- again!

9:55 PM, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Donviti said...

personally I think that comment from the NJ is hilarious.

as a person laced with sarcasm I truly appreciate that remark

1:15 PM, April 12, 2007  

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