Wednesday, May 09, 2007

ABC and the Ron Paul Censorship Fiasco...

In last week's Republican presidential debate, a little-known third-tier candidate named Ron Paul was able to participate alongside John McCain and Rudy Guiliani. ABC took a poll after the debate in which Ron Paul scored extremely well with viewers. Apparently, too well. Looking at those results, ABC decided that the poll must be horribly inaccurate and therefore taken down.

This might not seem so catastrophic, except that ABC also decided to delete all of the comments left by users on their web page who were critical of the news organization. Things spiraled all day Tuesday, ABC censoring more and more comments while users kept retaliating with even more critical comments.

Here is a case that begs the question: What is appropriate behavior for a professional news organization in the Digital Age? Surely, there is some need for moderating what users can post in a public forum, owned by a private company which is liable. But so is there also an expectation that respectable news organizations ought to remain neutral arbiters (or at least as close to neutral as possible) and only censor the worst type of content - notably, libelous charges and defamatory remarks. Neither democracy nor ABC shareholders are well served by a news media that deletes comments simply because they might disagree with their viewpoint.

In the meantime, ABC deserves the negative publicity and its new status as being a primary hacktivist target. Anyway, is this really an issue worth picking a fight over and incurring the wrath of its own users? It's a non-scientific poll, for goodness sake!


At 3:00 PM, Blogger Dave Lockjaw Walker said...

The rule for the news media is very simple.

We're right, you're wrong.

After all, if you were truly informed, or had any idea what needed to be done in the world, you'd be a journalist.

There's one industry in the world that operates on the principle that the customer is always wrong, and that is the news media.


At 8:42 AM, Blogger gabe said...

ABC news lost a lot of respect from their pro-war propaganda in 2002-2003. Now they prove once again that they are very biased. They deleted my comments that were about as diplomatic as you could get.


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