It is easy to relate to the travails at the Hartford Courant as it contends with how it permits people to sound off online. Newspapers are quite guarded about open-sourcing their forums and sound-off boards, in part because some people will misuse them and in part because they don't feel the standard of their content is upheld.
The situation in Hartford has taken on some interesting political consequences, as its latest story indicates. It points to a larger question: What is the role of the media in policing such posts?
Like most outlets, we take the position at the Sun that we will not permit anything online that we wouldn't permit in the newspaper. We strive for the same standards of fairness/accuracy and we don't want hateful or intolerant material or the stuff of personal attacks, particularly because we are looser in demanding the identity of contributors. The Web isn't an opportunity for a free swing.
We feel a responsibility to the community to ensure we don't host something that ill-serves it. We have been pleased (and not surprised) at how the community polices itself and stays civil. But there will be tests to come, to be sure.