Monday, January 26, 2009

The Morning Call Gives Hate a Forum

At our recent post, “We Like Downtown Allentown,” an Allentown Mom comment-copied Mrs. Dottie and me on this communication she had sent to The Morning Call …

"Hello, I am writing to the paper as a mother, stepmother, and concerned resident of Allentown. My adolescent stepdaughter was doing research for a school paper on internet communication, which led her to the comment [Forum] sections of many of your newspaper stories. Needless to say, as a child of partial Hispanic heritage, she was devastated. We reported abuse on several comments which were not removed. I have known of and heard about the racist, ignorant comments on The Morning Call [web] site, but I have now seen first hand how it can affect young individuals. I ask you to speak to your editor, to consider the number of relevant, intelligent comments attached to your articles, and consider the impact of these words on the children of Allentown. Or, as they are known in your reader forums: Animals, stinkin' ricans, pork chops, bean eaters, pieces of trash. It is disgusting!”

Our Allentown Mom did get a response from The Morning Call, which in our experience is surprising, and encouraging, on the surface anyway.

Vicki Mayk, The Morning Call’s Director of Community Relations & Communications got back with this:

“I will certainly pass your comments along to our online editors. I apologize that your daughter found these comments while visiting The Morning Call’s Web site. We are aware that such comments do get posted on our site. Unfortunately, an outside vendor is responsible for the posting – and the removal -- of comments. I tell you this, not because I am saying that we are not responsible, but to explain why it takes time for such comments to be removed. I am sorry that they are not always removed from the site in a timely fashion – and I agree that these are unacceptable.”

Morning Call Online Producer Ted Williams replied:

“Can I ask to what articles you refer? Unfortunately, your complaint is very, very common. We seem to have people who just want to start trouble, and it’s difficult to control. What we will do is find the comments and pass on the user name to the vendor, who will ban them and warn them. But in all honesty, on today’s Web, it’s very hard to keep such people off the site. There are ways around any blocks. We’re very sorry for your stepdaughter having to see this. I think we all realize the people who make such comments are the people who have real problems, but that doesn’t make the effect of what they say any easier to take. We will do all we can to address this particular case [emphasis added by Mr. Dottie]. We can hope that this person will realize the hurt they can cause by saying such disgusting things.”

Nice sentiments from Vicki and Ted. But the Allentown Mom’s letter to the newspaper obviously didn’t change anything at its Hate Forum. And for every “Allentown Mom” who is offended and writes to the newspaper, there may be thousands of Forum readers who are equally offended but don’t bother writing.

Here at “Lehigh Valley Somebody,” we can't think of a bigger roadblock to Allentown "Moving Forward Together" than the bigotry, intolerance, xenophobia, and hatred that exists in peoples' hearts and minds.

And while racism can't be abolished, that these idiots' vile bile is given an unbridled FORUM in our town's monopoly newspaper is outrageous and totally unacceptable.

But apparently HATE SELLS, so it remains online at The Morning Call Forum.

According to Morning Call columnist/blogger, Bill White:

"The tremendous traffic on our Web site is a selling point for advertisers and future subscribers. And the [Forum] comments, warts and all, attract a lot of those clicks."

Readers, we encourage you to read the full text of Bill White’s rationalizations and justifications for the free-flowing hatred at The Morning Call Forum in his “Blogging with Bill White” post entitled, "Cockroaches," where one can’t help but wonder if Mr. White is propagandizing in a quasi-official capacity for the newspaper. But what's most illuminating are the comments at Bill White’s “Cockroaches” post from local bloggers friskily denouncing the hatred on The Morning Call Forum.

Ah yes, those were the days ... the days before "Valley Blogosphere" and "Blogger Tuesday" at The Morning Call Forum.

Q. Whatever happened to those vocal, Morning Call dissenting local bloggers who used to champion STOPPING THE HATE at The Morning Call Forum?

Well, in the opinion of this blog, they sold out, and became compliant members of "Valley Blogosphere" at The Morning Call Forum. Yep.

As you may have noticed too, since the introduction of “Valley Blogosphere” and “Blogger Tuesday" at The Morning Call Forum (both created by Morning Call Editorial & Opinions VP Glenn Kranzley, with consultancy input from “Valley Blogosphere” blogger B.O'Hare), all previously healthy dissent in our local blogosphere against The Morning Call (on a variety of relevant issues) has vanished. GONE. POOF.

Why? Simple. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds your ego.”

You see, that same "tremendous traffic" at The Morning Call's website that Bill White tells us "attracts advertisers" appears to have also gotten some previously Morning Call dissenting local bloggers just absolutely "A-Quiver" at the thought of this “tremendous traffic” possibly reading and responding to their blog musings and ramblings which would be accessible via The Morning Call’s website Forum.

In a nutshell, as these local bloggers started seeing their pictures on The Morning Call’s website, and in The Morning Call "newspaper" every “Blogger Tuesday,” they also started “seeing stars” in their bathroom mirrors every morning: “Hey you, you could be the next Bill White!"

With "Valley Blogosphere," and "Blogger Tuesday," in one diabolically smooth move, Glenn Kranzley quashed all local blogosphere dissent against The Morning Call, while simultaneously covering the 30 or so recently terminated (and salaried) Morning Call reporters with A-Quiver local bloggers who were now eagerly and compliantly writing for The Morning Call ... for FREE.

And what about that previously dissented against HATE at The Morning Call Forum, which “Valley Blogosphere” and "Blogger Tuesday" were now a part of? Well ... um ... er … you know … that (alleged) Forum Hate wasn't all that much of a big deal anymore now was it?

Morning Call Dissenters Become
Morning Call Cheerleaders & Apologists

The sad fact is, our A-Quiver local bloggers didn’t want to even discuss the hate at The Morning Call Forum anymore, let alone consider this thought-leader blog’s concept of boycotting The Morning Call’s new local blogger "spotlight" products.

And this is painfully evident in an August 2008 blog discussion involving some formerly dissenting local bloggers who had been magically transformed into Morning Call cheerleaders and apologists by having been “honored” with inclusion as Morning Call “Valley Blogosphere” bloggers. The blog post was aptly titled "Should an honor be questioned?" and it is one heck of an eye-opener, as we’re sure you’ll see when you read through it.

There’s another reason why we ask that you read through the blog post "Should an honor be questioned?" Editor's Note: "Inclusion by Michael Donovan" blog author, Michael Donovan, has rigged it so that our link won't work. Should you find the blog post, you'll probably not be able to tell that Donovan deleted all the comments from this blog post because he doesn't want you to read them.

Near the end of the comments, I ask a simple and reasonable question about The Morning Call Hate Forum that I’ve been trying to get an answer on since August 2008.

As you will see in the blog post "Should an honor be questioned?" my reasonable question is totally ignored by the A-Quiver bloggers in the discussion, and of course it’s been totally ignored by The Morning Call too.

Here’s my question, which was also sent as an email to Glenn Kranzley and Ted Williams on August 7, 2008:

Mr. Kranzley and Mr. Williams:

The Morning Call is making registration a requirement for commenters to participate in its new "Sounding Board" civil discourse Forum [at your web site].

Q. Could The Morning Call implement "registration required" at its "Forum" too? This would, one would think, pre-eliminate and deter a significant percentage of the "hate speech" at the Forum, by requiring commenters at both Sounding Board and the Forum to comment as themselves-- i.e., any hate speech spewing would have a real name (and some accountability) attached to it.

Apparently, the "registration required" technology is there for "Sounding Board."

Could the same technology be applied to the Forum to eliminate or greatly reduce the racism, misogyny, and other forms of hate speech at the Morning Call Forum?

I'm still waiting for an answer.

Maybe someone else should ask the question?

And if the answer is “no,” well then what CAN be done to eliminate the Hate Speech at The Morning Call Forum? Because the only people not bothered by it, it seems, are Glenn Kranzley, Bill White, the racists who are posting it, the advertisers who are endorsing it, and the “Valley Blogosphere” bloggers who are ignoring it.

I'm confident the majority of us want the racist HATE at The Morning Call Forum GONE. POOF. ASAP.

So let's make that happen, what do you say?

This post was written by Mr. Dottie/Bill Villa.