Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Comments, fair and balanced (both riff and raff welcome)

An editorial decision, for better or for worse, was made at the birth of Montana Headlines not to allow comments. The reasoning was simple: if Montana Headlines is going to make bold to critique the Montana media, the critiques had better be reasonably thought out. David Crisp’s reluctance to “trust sloppy writers to have straight facts” is a sentiment shared around here.

Step two in the logic process was that responding to comments takes up precious blogging minutes (you know, those stolen moments when one isn’t earning a living, spending time with loved ones, sleeping, or knitting.) The writer of a post might respond to comments, using up time that would otherwise have been spent on the purpose of the blog.

Various readers have mused that the no-comment policy at Montana Headlines is perhaps an example of conservatives not being open-minded. It is a valid criticism, albeit one that Montana Headlines was prepared to accept for the sake of concentrating on the posts themselves.

It seems, though, that having a blog and not allowing any comments is poor internet manners (SORT OF LIKE SHOUTING). Until someone politely points out the faux pas, though, bad manners can go uncorrected.

Ed Kemmick, in his recent kind mention of this blog, did just that, for which thanks are in order.

So this blog is now open for comments on a trial basis, with "riff and/or raff" welcome. Things will get re-evaluated in roughly a month regarding whether the initial instinct was actually the right one after all.

One caveat: if a comment is one which, if spoken, would gain an invitation to exit a polite social gathering hosted by a Montana Headlines grandmother, it will vanish into the ether of the net.

On an unrelated note, some readers have pointed out that Montana Headlines hasn’t sufficiently delivered on its promise to critique the Gazette's fairness. The original plan was to post only occasionally, when a Gazette headline or editorial (i.e. the parts that are nearly as anonymously written as is Montana Headlines) seemed particularly unfair, leaving no choice but either to throw the paper at one’s guiltless dog… or to blog.

But since the never-ending circus of Montana politics has caused posting to be daily, referencing virtually every major newspaper in Montana as well as a number of national publications, Gazette-bias posts have been the exception rather than the rule.

A more accurate subheading for the blog’s title and a more telling description is being considered, but as is well-known, change is painful for conservatives. On the other hand, to paraphrase that ur-conservative Edmund Burke, a blog without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation. So look for further micro-evolution on this site.


Ed Kemmick said...

I suppose it makes some kind of sense that I get to post the first comment. I hope your decision doesn't give you too much heartburn.

I also appreciated your explanation for why you have been ranging beyond your blog's title and mission statement. Still, I'd like to see more criticism aimed squarely at the Gazette. For all the supposedly conservative blogs clogging the 'Net, we rarely come in for any detailed criticism or analysis. If it keeps us on our toes, and gives me an opportunity to explain how things get done around here, I'm all for it.

Montana Headlines said...

Some of the posts should probably more explicitly spell out what are only implied criticisms of Gazette coverage, although the risk is seeming like a nag.

Take, for instance, the recent post about Congressional salaries. Less than a month after the election, the Gazette was quoting Jon Tester discussing the difficulties of making ends meet on his Senate salary.

The article pointedly did not mention the fact that Tester and his supporting organizations had criticized Burns for voting to raise Congressional pay to the very level that Tester was finding to be barely adequate for himself and his family to live in and travel to and from D.C.

Call us cynical, but we suspect that if the parties had been reversed, the Gazette would have mentioned that fact in the article, or at least would have given it a "thumbs down" line in the weekly editorial recap.