St. Louis Post-Dispatch social media editor Kurt Greenbaum proudly tells the story of how he caused a man to lose his job after the man posted a vulgar comment on the newspaper’s blog.
Greenbaum says the man used a single word, “a vulgar expression for a part of a woman’s anatomy,” which got deleted within a minute of it being posted. The man then left the same comment again, which Greenbaum says he deleted.
In the process, Greenbaum noticed that the commenter’s email address came from a local school, so he felt he had no choice but to call the school and inform them of the situation.
School officials asked him to forward them the email, which he did. They ended up tracking the comments to a single computer and confronting the employee, who resigned on the spot.
And newspapers wonder why they are dying.
While I sit here trying to decide whether or not to call Greenbaum a pussy, I realize he is much worse than that. He is a disgrace to journalism. He violated the confidentiality between his readers and the newspaper.
His response might be understandable if the reader had threatened his life. But the reader was simply responding to a blog post titled “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten?”
The commenter was obviously trying to be funny, even if his humor was juvenile and sophomoric.
Greenbaum, who calls himself STL Social Media Guy, should understand that blogs attract all kinds of diverse personalities and for the most part, they are harmless because these are people who are only spewing words.
Although the reader might have been breaking school policy by leaving vulgar comments on a newspaper blog during work hours, he was not breaking the law, so it is not the newspaper’s role to snitch on him.
If the word pussy bothered him so much, Greenbaum could just have left a warning in the comments section asking the reader not to leave profane comments anymore.
And if the reader continued to do so, all Greenbaum had to do was block his IP address where his comments would be held in moderation. After all, this is a guy who claims on his resume to be “a proven leader in online and media-related organizations with a record of progressive responsibility.”
Causing a guy to lose his job for using the word pussy is not progressive responsibility. It’s the complete opposite.
I’ve blocked a few IP addresses of commenters who continually left vulgar comments that had nothing to do with the discussion at hand. And I only did so after deleting several of their comments and realizing they were not going to stop. And this only holds the comment in moderation, allowing me to choose whether or not I want to post it.
The worst that happens is that the comment doesn’t get posted, causing the commenter to get frustrated and leave more comments which never get posted and forcing the commenter to finally give up. If that commenter decides to leave a normal comment, then it gets posted and life goes on.
One of the commenters was posting from the Miami Police Department. Another was posting from a local church. Another was posting from a prison in Northern California.
And another was posting from the federal reserve, which I ended up calling him out on the same thread. But that’s where it ended. He never left another comment again.
I guess I could have contacted their employers and asked them to investigate but that is just not my style. I grew up learning you don’t snitch unless your life depended on it. Otherwise, you handle your own conflicts.
Obviously, not everybody thinks as I do.