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Guardian reprimanded by readers for comments on Cumbria shootings liveblog

June 2nd, 2010Posted by in Online Journalism

Commenters on Guardian.co.uk’s liveblog covering the shootings in Whitehaven today challenged the site over its decision to publish comments on the blow-by-blow coverage.

The liveblog, a format which has been used to good effect by the Guardian previously, particularly for its G20 coverage and Andrew Sparrow’s election coverage, has been aggregating news coverage of the events as they unfold and updating with police information and eyewitness statements.

But commenters have taken the site to task for leaving the blog open to readers and asking for comments and information to be posted in the comments section:

I think having a comment section on this is pretty ghoulish and in bad-taste (…) Best just to let the truth come out properly instead of this rolling, almost certainly erroneous way of doing things.

Yes, as earlier commenters have said, please switch the comments off. It is legitimate – and might even help save lives – for the media to seek minute-by-minute updates from people there and quickly broadcast any information that is relevant. But it does not have to be public.

Fortunately, and to the site’s credit, editor Janine Gibson stepped in with this comment:

There are very good technical reasons to cover a fast unfolding story in this way, which are nothing to do with turning into Fox News but are to do with speed of publishing and being able to correct things quickly.

However, we’ve discussed it and think the bulk of commenters are correct, it’s not a particularly useful way to source information on a story such as this, so we will turn the comments off.

Thanks to those who raised it constructively.

(Hat tip – @jonslattery)

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