Lively Comments Drive Pilot's Website
Take rumors and fact, then toss a little outrageous and anonymous opinion into the mix, and you’ve got the engine that drives a lot of websites, including thepilot.com.
Here is a perfect example of the rumor-versus-fact nature of today’s 24/7 news cycle and the role of the bloggers in the dissemination of news: pro wrestler Jeff Hardy’s drug charges.
For those who don’t know, Hardy is a native of Cameron and still makes his home there. Last September, law enforcement officials, acting on what they identified as a tip, raided his home, found drugs and filed multiple serious charges against him.
The case has drawn national attention because, whether you like pro wrestling or not, it is an entertainment that attracts a great many passionate fans. Hardy, 32, and his brother, Matt, wrestling as the Hardy Boyz, were six-time World Wrestling Entertainment World Tag Team Champions. Individually, Jeff Hardy held the WWE World Champion belt at one time and the World Heavyweight Championship twice.
Now, here is where it gets a little strange. Last week, the Internet was abuzz with the “news” that most of the charges against Hardy had been dropped. Apparently, it started with one blogger reporting that Hardy had appeared in court and that the charges had been dropped by the Moore County DA’s office. This blogger claimed that he had talked with an unnamed court official and that all accusations but one against Hardy had been dismissed.
That report spread like wildfire, appearing on various wrestling websites. But it wasn’t true.
And that was what Pilot staff writer John Chappell reported after reading the rumors. It was the responsible thing to do. The charges had not been dropped, as District Attorney Maureen Krueger made quite clear in Chappell’s story.
Whether Hardy is guilty or not is left up to the judicial system to decide. But that doesn’t stop people from having strong opinions on the subject, and the Internet has become the place for people, many hiding behind anonymity, to let those feelings be known.
That is a good thing and a bad thing. Just glancing at the comments that appear on thepilot.com website makes that quite clear. The debate that can flare up over an issue, a story, a column or a letter to the editor darts and weaves like a hummingbird in flight.
A person has to have thick skin to enter into the domain of the comments, perhaps explaining the use of anonymity. A good, honest opinion can be attacked in numerous ways, with the discussion taking a plunge over the abyss into name-calling and downright rudeness. Other times, though, a comment can lead to a spirited debate that actually sheds light on the subject matter.
There is a debate going on in the news industry concerning comment sections, centering on the “good” or “bad” question. The debate is a robust one. There is no one answer, or solution, offered, but many are being considered. Who knows where websites, such as thepilot.com, are heading? Some people think that apps on smart phones and other mobile devices are going to make websites obsolete, but that is grist for another column.
This and That: Today is the day that the drawing for the winner of a free iPad takes place. Publisher David Woronoff is going to put on a blindfold and randomly pick one of the registered users of thepilot.com to receive the prize. The deadline to register for thepilot.com, and thus become eligible for the free iPad, was Tuesday.
n There are several new features on thepilot.com that offer the user an opportunity to get more out of the site.
n One of the new offerings is a real estate search engine, a partnership between thepilot.com and the Southern Pines/Pinehurst Board of Realtors. The search engine is linked to the local multiple listing service, and it is updated daily by the local Realtors.
n Another new feature is a page devoted to “Out & About” photo galleries, with a smorgasbord of photos of local people attending fundraisers and events across the county. An archives of special sections, including the 2010 graduation issue, is now available.
n Finally, for those who want to keep up with criminal activities, there is a page dedicated to incident reports and arrests made by local police departments.
Contact Hunter Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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