Jacob Lauing is a journalism junior and the editor-in-chief of Mustang News.
Thick skin is a requirement for journalists.
The nature of our work places us under constant scrutiny — our readers’ magnifying glasses are a steady reminder of when we screw up, when our work is crap or when people just feel like yelling at us.
Now more than ever before, we’ve been feeling the heat of that limelight.
We’ve been hit with a tidal wave of comments in the past month, some constructive, some hateful and some personal. Whether it’s the content Mustang News has published lately or our readers’ New Year’s Resolutions to be more assertive, I’ve read more negative comments in the past few weeks than I have in a long time.
Mustang News has always used Disqus, an application that allows readers to comment via social media or — more often than not — anonymously. As a policy, we believe in free speech, and therefore don’t delete comments, except under very special circumstances. And let’s be clear: I love hearing what people have to say about Mustang News — without feedback we can’t improve, and oftentimes commenters can point out mistakes we may have missed.
But the thing is, it’s hard to validate feedback from someone hiding behind their computer screens. So each time I read an anonymous comment worth pursuing, I offer them a voice. I respond and offer a chance to discuss their criticism in more detail.
I’ve never gotten a response.
Anonymous commenters usually aren’t willing to extend the conversation or even attach a face to their own words.
So it’s time for a change.
Starting now, Mustang News will offer the chance to comment using Facebook. It’s really easy. No creatively named fake emails. No hassle. Just log in to Facebook and say what’s on your mind. If you have feedback that you don’t want attached to your name, odds are it’s not very constructive.
I’m positive the number of comments we receive will plummet, but we’ll hopefully be left with some productive feedback.
So, if you have a genuine response to our work, I hope to see your name in the comments section. And, as always, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to let me know how Mustang News can do a better job.
We put our names on our words.
So should you.