I respect Jim Brady, he's made a series of smart decisions for the Washington Post online that have really given the paper an amazing internet presence, far ahead of the New York Times or anyone else. But the reason he gave for shutting off the comments to Deborah Howell's blog is just absurd:
Among the things that we knew would be part of that discussion would be the news and opinion coming from the pages of The Washington Post and washingtonpost.com. We knew a lot of that discussion would be critical in nature. And we were fine with that. Great journalism companies need feedback from readers to stay sharp.I'm assuming WaPo management just imperiously decided they didn't want to have a public record of opposition to the embarrassment that is Deborah Howell, and Brady was forced to make some excuse for shutting it down.
But there are things that we said we would not allow, including personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech. Because a significant number of folks who have posted in this blog have refused to follow any of those relatively simple rules, we've decided not to allow comments for the time being.
Because they had what, a thousand comments? For fuck sake we get that many comments on any given day and have to write our posts and manage the blog and pick images and do our own HTML coding and Redd and I manage to remove offensive comments quite easily, it takes less than a second. The excuse offered by Brady is so lame as to be comical, and anyone who runs a board open to the public just knows that people who show up are often not going to play by the "rules" you set up, in fact they'll break them just because you have them. To assume otherwise is incredibly naive, and using that as an excuse to silence your critics makes a complete farce of everything Brady has achieved in his online division so far.
But hey, I guess we should be thanking Jim for throwing gasoline on the fire. This complete disregard for the commentary their readers took care to craft, that they hoped to wipe from the face of the planet, has done more than I ever could keep the outrage white hot and active.
Update: Atrios said it well:
The Post said they wanted a discourse, but part of the reason people were rather angry was that Howell was not providing honest discourse.It also seems to be the topic of the day over at Romanesco, who quote Public Eye, the CBS News blog:
So, they blame their readers. Nice job!
Nevertheless, the discussion was hardly one that could be considered respectful, or even civil. This unfortunate chain of events leaves everyone in the new media landscape in worse position.Yes it's all our fault. Tisk-tisk. Oh those uncouth bloggers.
We are making some noise and it is being heard. The echo of these actions throughout the media world is thundering. Superb job.
Update II: Via AmericaBlog, we find our good friends at DU have taken a snapshot of the deleted Howell page. Better luck next time, WaPo.
Update III: Editor & Publisher is now trying to contact Jim Brady who is not responding.