Viewer anger: What is behind influx of rude and angry comments?
By Jenny Kuglin KVAL News
I've been noticing a big influx of angry emails and online comments. What's going on? Comments on our stories, or the people in our stories, are often crude and spiteful.
It wasn't always this way.
When I first started working in the news business about a decade ago, I was shocked by some of the mean emails viewers would send the station. I couldn’t believe people would email comments about seemingly silly things like the color of my hair. But, these emails were few and far between, and people also would write in very kind things too.
Over the years, I’ve gotten used to the negative feedback. In fact, I really appreciate it when people comment on our stories -- or our people -- because it gives me a chance to find out what our viewers are thinking.
When someone tells us we are wrong, and we are, I make reporters and anchors go on-air and apologize. If someone asks us a question that I feel other people might have, too, we address it on-air. This is important transparency for a skeptical society.
But I’ve been noticing a fairly disturbing trend lately. People are being mean in greater numbers than I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve also been personally screamed at, called names, and hung up on countless times. So have other members of my staff. I’ve talked to other people in the news business, and they are reporting the same trend.
Here are some recent examples (spelling/grammar/punctuation retained from the originals):
So, here are my questions:
Why is everyone so angry? Is it the political climate in our country right now? Does electronic communication allow people to act in ways they wouldn’t face to face? Should we allow online commenting? Let me know what you think -- by posting a comment or sending an e-mail.
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