While catching up on my twitter reading tonight, I came across this comment from Patrick Thornton aka jiconoclast:

I want to talk about comments some more. It seems to be that building community has to start from the beginning.

I have to disagree with that. Now, I’m the first person to rag on newspapers for moving at a snails pace, requiring that even the most minor decisions are made by committee and for blatantly ignoring the obvious for years through institutionalized denial and arrogance.

But, I’m not sure that many news organizations were aware of, or expected the kind of drama that comments connected to news stories would bring. Yes, it’s ugly and it will only get worse before it gets better. But it can be done. I know this for a fact.
We moderate comments on news stories at WRAL.com and as the Managing Editor of User-Generated Content, I am largely responsible for the policies that come along with it. Comments weren’t always moderated, but we took control of the content associated with our brand, made the change, and we’re still going strong. Do we get complaints? Yes, but not nearly as many as you would think and most importantly, people also know that they can come to us and engage in civil conversations about the issues that affect them and the community they live in.

So, is it too late? No! I think all news organizations should moderate comments, and the sooner the better. Would it have been ideal to start from the beginning? Possibly. But, you may even score points for changing the situation for the better.

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