Four do's and three don'ts about story commenting for reporters

Here are some tips for reporters about how to deal with story commenting.


Engage. Online behavior always improves when responsible adults are present.
Answer. Respond to genuine questions.
Listen. Keep an eye out for story ideas. Discover whether your reporting is informing or confusing people.
Clarify and correct. When people are confused or misinformed, post clear and accurate information. Link to authoritative sources whenever possible.


Debate. Avoid argumentation.
Opine. Your role is to "shed light and not to master." (Extra points if you get the reference.)
Feed the trolls. Some people are best ignored.

When in doubt, consult a supervisor.


Interesting. As a five-year commenter at Bluffton Today, I have some thoughts about the involvement of reporters on message boards or blogs or whatever. From my perspective, one thing that went wrong early at BT was the tendency on the part of staff, mostly reporters, to get very clique-y with some other contributors. And something that always made me nervous was privileged staff access to personal contact information. I personally was contacted by a staff member for a reason that had nothing to do with blogging, and at least one other blogger was referred to in such a way in a news story that her blogging identity became public knowledge. People who post on small local blogs should know that they are often not dealing with seasoned reporters and great judgment.

robert hunter/jerry garcia of the grateful dead.

The simplicity of this post is perfect. Wordy what to/not-to do lists just confuse the hell out of journalists who are already confused about the concept of commenting to begin with. Great post!

Hi Steve I am contacting you in regard to a set of tapes he had that he used for his book - 'East St Louis- the way it is'. He gave the tapes to a professor at McKendree University for use on a web site the school put up about East St Louis. The work is done and the grant money is gone, she now wants to archive these tapes. I have encouraged her to give them to Southern Illinois Universty at Edwardsville, where there is already a lot of ESL material, she needs your permission to donate the tapes....if you are willing - let me know. thanks so much Sandra Pfeifer

light the song with sense and color, hold away despair