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The Future of Commentary: print vs web by:Nikky Raney

When newspapers and magazines were more popular than web pages the way that the readers were able to comment and give feedback was through "letters to the editor." The editors of each were able to choose and edit which comments made its way into the paper.

With news being delivered online commentary is received instantaneously. Bangor Daily News' Jeff Tuttle is in charge of the newspaper's web site, and he came to my class and spoke about various topics involving moving the news from print to web; he also spoke about the commenting feature.

He told the students in the "Intro to News Reporting" class that Bangordailynews.com makes it so that commenting is only allowed through signing up on the site. Even when signing up for the site anyone is able to make a quick account and e-mail address and post things. The example that Tuttle gave was a comment that would say something along the lines of "so and so is sleeping with so and so's wife."

Of course magazines and newspapers still have their "letters to the editors," but by adding the commenting feature to the web sites commenters that know the negative comments given would never appear in the print edition are able to rant and rave as they please. The unfortunate part is when spam accounts are made, or the self-promoters use the commenting feature to get recognition.

There are certain sites where the comments may not even relate to the entry that the comment is about. Some commenters just comment about random things that have no relevance to the posts whatsoever.

With the online commentary enabling users to interact and give feedback the good and the bad are able to be shown, but sometimes the hateful and disrespectful comments are also present.

Sometimes articles that are known to be overly controversial will have commenting disabled, and in those rare scenarios the "censorship" of the readers is enacted. Commenting and giving feedback is good when the comments and feedback is constructive; whether negative or not there is a way to leave a comment of disagreement without being disrespectful and rude. The downside is that some commenters will use the opportunity to spread negativity and add absolutely nothing constructive to the "conversation."

The print edition will always have the most thought-provoking comments that stick out, but for all other commentary the web site will be able to include the comments that were unable to fit to print- as well as the comments that the print edition would never think to publish.

"Be careful. Journalism is more addictive than crack cocaine. Your life can get out of balance. " - Dan Rather

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