The Washington Post has recently caused an upset, banning their journalists from debating with readers VIA Twiter. The ban happened after several reporters chose to engage readers in debate over the controversy of the recent string of bullicides.
The six teenagers that committed suicide sparked the idea of “Spirit Day”, where supporters of the LGBT community wear purple in protest against hatemongering. You can read more here: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20020164-504083.html
However, the article posted on the Washington Post, supposedly promoting anti hate, equated homosexuality to a mental illness. Needless to say, that idea did not settle with many readers, and thus came the twitter debates.
The Post has banned its reporters, saying “it is absolutely vital to remember that the purpose of these Post-branded accounts is to use them as a platform to promote news”
“No branded Post accounts should be used to answer critics and speak on behalf of the Post“.
The Post defended its position, saying:
“Perhaps it would be useful to think of the issue this way: when we write a story, our readers are free to respond and we provide them a venue to do so.
We sometimes engage them in a private verbal conversation, but once we enter a debate personally through social media, this would be equivalent to allowing a reader to write a letter to the editor – and then publishing a rebuttal by the reporter. It’s something we don’t do.”
I don’t agree with their conclusions, as I belive journalism (especially with the benefits of the internet) should include active communication between reporter and readers. The ban to do so, is unnececary censorship, and an encroachment on the freedoms of readers and writers everywhere.