From CBS News:
Today CBSNews.com informed its staff via email that they should no longer enable comments on stories about presidential candidate Barack Obama. The reason for the new policy, according to the email, is that stories about Obama have been attracting too many racist comments.Anyone who's posted on the topic of Barack Obama has played wack-a-mole with racist comments -- e.g. the only post on this site that has had comments deleted for offensiveness is one entitled "NEW ANTI-OBAMA BLOG" -- but here is the piece of the story I didn't get:
"It's very simple," Mike Sims, director of News and Operations for CBSNews.com, told me. "We have our Rules of Engagement. They prohibit personal attacks, especially racist attacks. Stories about Obama have been problematic, and we won't tolerate it."
CBSNews.com does sometimes delete comments on an individual basis, but Sims said that was not sufficient in the case of Obama stories due to "the volume and the persistence" of the objectionable comments.
There has been a fierce debate about how news outlets should handle reader comments. Washingtonpost.com's Jim Brady, whose site, like CBSNews.com, does not have the resources to filter comments in advance, told Howard Kurtz that he'd "rather figure out a way to do it better than not to do it at all."Two of the nation's leading news organizations have so little control over their comments -- much less control than a kid with a Blogger account? In light of the post on blog comments by your Chicago Tribune Eric Zorn, I find that rather hard to believe.