Any comments? I think not.

The Christmas-New Year’s holiday season is great especially when it falls on 3-day weekends. However, it seems you still always must accomplish a week’s worth of work in each four-day week. That being said, if for some reason you read my blog daily you will notice I didn’t publish yesterday. That was because I worked a rare evening until 8 p.m.

Until I “semi-retired” five years ago it was not at all unusual for me to work nights. At the beginning of my last full-time job I worked 1-10 p.m. five days a week as a police beat reporter. Believe me, the hours, how will I say this, sucked.  Not so much the beat but the hours were disagreeable.

I am getting off the subject of what I intended to write about today but not completely, for I was talking about blogging and my career as a journalist.

No second thoughts have crossed my mind in five years of blogging as to my decision to let EFD stand as a blog that was not “interactive.” The word interactive has many meanings even in the world of the Internet and technology. In the sense to which I refer it simply means that I don’t don’t allow comments directly to the blog.  I do leave an e-mail address where people can leave a comment or whatever. Some people do take time to leave a comment but interestingly enough not many people at all leave negative comments when sending an e-mail from my blog’s link. Why waste the extra several seconds?

Thus leaves the “madness to my method.” Say what?

It was only shortly before I left my last newspaper that the publication began allowing “live” comments to stories. It was bad enough when I had my e-mail address published under my byline when I wrote “Cops,” or the police blotter. I had some good comments and interesting ideas and news tips in those early days of news story commentary. But also was there a heapin’ helpin’ of “blowhard-o-phonia.” I can only imagine how reporters feel now who work for papers which have let the comments for stories run amok.

I see the idiocy and the racism and thoughtlessness and just pure stupidity in those story comments today. A piece I saw this afternoon, sent through the e-mail that is compiled by journalist Jim Romensko on media industry news, brought all this to mind.

The article concerns a protest by a number of journalism organizations over a Texas A & M University System policy prohibiting professors from instructing students to file open records requests with any of the system’s components. The policy states doing so will open the faculty members to disciplinary actions which include firing. Journalism groups believe the policy was an (over)reaction to A & M journalism professor Dan Malone’s having students submit open records requests to Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. The result was the students writing stories about the institution inadequately reporting campus crime statistics to the federal government.

It is an interesting story and I suggest you read it if you happen to have an interest in government hiding things from you, yes You, I am talking to You, the taxpaying public.

But I also suggest one take a look at the comments following the story by longtime Austin American-Statesman ace reporter Ralph Haurwitz. The majority of the commentary is exactly why I don’t allow comments to my blog. The statements are generally spur-of-the-moment blather of the worst kind.

For instance, one commenter disparages a comment from University of Texas Austin journalism professor Wanda Garner Cash, who describes the A & M policy as something one might find on the satire Web site the Onion. The know-it-all commentator dismisses Cash as just another “academic.” But Cash, known by her moniker “Fluffy,”  was well-known and respected in Texas community journalism for 25 years or so as a editor, publisher and owner before heading off to the “Ivory Towers.” She also happens to be one of the state’s leading experts on freedom of information matters.

I would suspect that those of us who have strong opinions bottled up inside might every once in awhile see a story and be immediately driven to commentary. Hey, the comment section is right there. It’s like seeing fresh fruit in a store and trying one out because it’s there. I sometimes don’t practice what I preach, I will be the first to admit.

Still, I feel that eventually something has got to give with news story comments online. They increasingly show the worst of our society and seldom constructively contribute anything to the understanding of a topic. Some publications have taken to moderating the comments, others have taken them away completely. Perhaps some middle ground might be found. Maybe the publication might insist that those who comment lose their anonymity, or else impose a “waiting” or “cooling-off” period.

Whatever happens will happen. So, in the meantime, don’t forget you still can send me an e-mail, you jerk-faced $#%^&+* moron!