In less than a two-month span, there have been two incidents on The Renton Reporter’s Facebook page that have left me feeling uncomfortable.
And as of Monday, both posts have been deleted.
Following the deletion of the most recent post regarding a former Kent School District employee who pleaded not guilty to charges, I made a separate post informing followers of what I did and why.
As the editor of The Renton Reporter, I have decided to delete a recent post regarding a former school employee who pleaded not guilty to charges. As a community news organization it is our job to inform the public of all events, good or bad, happening in our community. However, I will not allow rude or threatening comments on our Facebook page. This is not the first time I have felt this way following posts we have made and comments we have received. I’m sure it won’t be the last. As a local news organization I will not allow inappropriate or incendiary comments on our page. If you have any comments or concerns, please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For some time now, I have wanted to write a column on this issue and now is the perfect time to do so.
As a follower pointed out on my Facebook post, there are other steps I could have taken instead of deleting the original post.
But I am here to stand by my decision to delete both posts I wasn’t comfortable with leaving on the site.
As a journalist, I do not have an opinion one way or another regarding the subject matter of these posts — however, both are crime related. The most recent was the one I described above and the second was regarding a man who was sentenced for molesting children at a local daycare.
My issue and the reasoning behind me finally pulling the trigger and deleting these posts were because of the comments from our followers.
Many comments were threatening in nature and some Facebook users went as far as tagging the subject of the articles and telling people of the community to look out for this person.
Our job here at The Reporter is to tell the community of all news, all events whether good or bad. And in these two cases, they fall more on the bad side of the spectrum.
When I get notifications that followers are commenting on our posts and I log on to read the comments, I find it hard to believe that followers and readers of our paper have gone as far as to threaten an individual of our community. And yes, I say this whether the person has been charged of a crime or not.
All people in this country are innocent until proven guilty and I know that is hard for many to believe. But by making these inappropriate comments on a Facebook post, we are only stooping to their level.
This is an issue of online bullying. It is easy for many to hide behind their private Facebook page and make these comments. But it is something that, as long as I am editor of The Reporter, I will not tolerate.
Like mentioned above, I know there are other steps I could have taken and if inappropriate comments continue in the future, I may take further steps to stop them from posting on our page.
The reason we choose to share crime stories on our Facebook page is the same reason we choose to post anything on our Facebook page. Our goal is to update people of our community of things that are happening and that includes when individuals are charged or sentenced for a crime.
I want our posts to be seen as beneficial, I do not want to be a part of online bullying.
I will continue to monitor our Facebook page and I will start to take more actions if I deem comments and posts inappropriate or threatening.
I know some may agree with my stance and I know others will disagree with my decision. I welcome everyone to reach out to me and have a conversation — you are welcome to email me at email@example.com or you are welcome to call me at 425-336-4959.
In my, almost a year as editor, I want everyone in our community to know that I am available and open to discuss any topic with our readers.
I don’t make decisions without first weighing the pros and cons. I also don’t make decisions without first discussing the issue with my staff. And I certainly do not make decisions and then hide from our readers.
I want everyone to know that I am available to talk with whether it be about this or something else. We at The Reporter are here to provide a service to the community and we take our job very seriously and that includes interacting with the community in which we report on.