Last week’s Fort Frances Times’ story, “Couchiching vows to set up toll booth,” has incited a firestorm of hateful comments on the Times’ website.
The majority of comments are from “anonymous” posters, who freely wield the “right to freedom of speech” excuse, but are too cowardly to reveal their own identities (generally a requirement of exercising freedom of speech).
The Fort Frances Times, as a reputable news medium, has a duty to act responsibly in the way information is sent out via its own mediums. Allowing such hatred to manifest on the Times’ website is not responsible journalism, and it in fact serves to undermine the integrity and reputation of the Fort Frances Times.
Just as a name and contact info is required to publish a letter to the editor, so should it be so for online story comments. Many websites and blogs require readers to register before commenting just to combat this very problem.
I don’t think it will discourage folks from commenting about things they are passionate about, but I think it will discourage those who are too cowardly to stand behind what they have to say (usually because their comments serve to hurt others).
I know the story is a big issue that will affect all of us in Rainy River District, but I think it is one that requires meaningful and progressive discussion, neither of which would include most of what is being said in readers’ comments online.
This is an opportunity to strengthen relationships with our neighbours by helping to come to a solution, not revert back to the antiquated “Us vs. Them” sentiment.
Although it is sad that such a sentiment still exists, I hope those who have been hurt by some of the online comments will understand that it is not a sentiment that’s universally shared throughout Rainy River District.
I sincerely hope the majority of all people who have read these comments are as disgusted as I am!
Nestor Falls, Ont.