Friday, March 6, 2009

R-J Comments Run Amok

The comments section for articles on the Review-Journal's website offers this disclaimer:

"The following comments are provided by readers and are the sole responsiblity of the authors. The does not review comments before publication nor guarantee their accuracy. By publishing a comment here you agree to abide by the comment policy. If you see a comment that violates the policy, please notify the web editor.

Some comments may not display immediately due to an automatic filter. These comments will be reviewed within 48 hours. Please do not submit a comment more than once."

I wonder how that disclaimer would hold up in court if the executive at the Treasure Island decided to sue for this:

It may be too small to read here (click on the image to make it bigger) and I've blurried out the job and identity of the TI exec referenced here, but it's an anonymous and lewd allegation that his girlfriend is having an affair. It's at the bottom of a piece about MGM Mirage's CityCenter financing issues. I'm not providing the direct link here.

Most newspaper websites DO review comments before they post them. And the R-J does so for comments to its blogs, at least. I know this because readers of this blog have complained about trying to post comments to Sherm Frederick's or Tom Mitchell's blogs and having them never appear. Someone must've dumped those.

If you provide a public forum, you screen comments intermittently and someone posts something libelous such as what's been sitting on the R-J site for nearly three hours now, is the site legally responsible? I would think so.

But what do I know? The LVRJ.Com folks clearly have minds brighter than mine.


Ryan Jerz said...

I believe at least one state court, and possibly a federal court has ruled that anonymous comments like this are allowed. The trouble is that it could very well be true, making it not libelous. In the name of decency, it should be removed, but you should be careful what you ask of newspapers. The tendency is hardly ever to take a reasoned approach and monitor all comments, especially in light of current economic situations, but instead is to simply turn them off. That's much worse than one possibly libelous comment.

Anonymous said...

Since the lead photo is reportedly of the Cosmo, and captioned as part of CityCenter, and the description about MGM continuing as a "going concern" is confusing, at best, I think this is the R-Js defense. "We are so incompetent, we can't be expected to catch comment errors. Hell, we can't even catch our own!"
Jeff in OKC

Anonymous said...

Seems like they would be better off not screening any comments at all than letting these types through.

That seems like implicit approval vs. them being able to claim it's an anonymous public forum.

And yes, as I commented on the RJ site, not sure Stutz understood what 'going concern' means - seems like he has it backwards.