Why Does the L.A. Times Publish Racist Comments on its Website?

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If you were a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, would you have the stomach to read your own articles online? Why do we ask? Because if the topic has anything to do with schools, gangs, crime, graffiti, public art, or any issue that in any way might possibly have any connection to mainstream Los Angeles issues, I’d see my well-written hard work being used as a platform for ignorant, racist garbage. Take a seemingly straightforward, if discouraging, article about falling test scores in California that was posted this morning. The article is clear and well-written by reporter Teresa Watanabe and includes data from Sandra Poindexter which helps flesh out the various rises and gains made in during the school year in various aspects of education.

Here are a few of the comments the L.A. Times has published on their website:

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 6.47.30 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 6.47.16 PM

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 6.47.05 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 6.47.00 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 6.46.29 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 6.46.23 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 6.46.03 PMGo back to any article on the L.A. Times website that touches on issues within the city or state, or involve a non-white suspect of a crime, etc. and you’ll find thousands of comments just like these ones. While racist comments on the internet is by no means limited to our city’s newspaper, it’s hard to imagine what purpose the paper’s publisher thinks these serve and how it benefits them in any way– it certainly doesn’t do the world or our city any favors.

The NY Times and other papers that claim the mantle of journalistic greatness moderate their comments, show readers editor-approved comments by default, and use other methods to ensure that the hard work their reporters do isn’t tainted by racism and ignorance.

Our honest question to the L.A. Times is why do they allow this? Their official policy is that racist comments are not acceptable, but in hundreds of examples we found, this policy is not enforced. Since we haven’t heard from anyone there, we can only guess as to why they don’t enforce their own policy and also explain why that isn’t accurate.

To wit: they think it’s too expensive to moderate comments, which is provably untrue based on what other online publications do; they believe having a comment free-for-all brings in more page views, which might be partially true, but the greater damage is to their brand and to our city can’t be worth it; they just don’t care, which seems unlikely; they like the comments they’re getting and are satisfied with the results, which is hard to believe even when considering the Times’ early history of antipathy towards immigrants.

It would be interesting to hear directly from anyone at the paper in our (moderated) comments below about the policy, the reasons behind it, or how reporters feel about their hard work being used as a global platform to broadcast racist views to millions of people.

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Comments (5) to “Why Does the L.A. Times Publish Racist Comments on its Website?”

  1. A more interesting discussion would be, why do Asian students, many of who emigrated to California facing the same economic and language challenges as Mexicans, so vastly outperform? Let alone, comparing Asians to Blacks, who’ve lived under a safety net since the day they were born.

    I think we all know the reasons but yes, certain truths hurt.

  2. It’s mostly about Economics, not race. Also, Asians don’t emigrate to California at the same rate as “Mexicans.” And when they do they don’t start in the worst communities the country has to offer.

    Speaking from personal experience a lot of teachers are there just to collect a check. Are you going to be enthusiastic about learning when your teacher is there just to pay her rent? I’ve been to schools like these. There aren’t enough fingers pointed at teachers.

    No child left behind is a joke.

    Speaking as a white guy that grew up with both Asians and “Mexicans.”(El Monte and Pico Rivera) You know since everyone that speaks Spanish is a “Mexican”

    Forgive my radical idea, but people that don’t want to attend school, shouldn’t. If you can’t meet a simple standard as a 2.0, then to fuck yourself.

  3. Are they always this bad? In my experience, this is usually a result of the article being linked to on Drudge Report. The comments section becomes a sewer in short order.

  4. Satire?

  5. The L.A. Times has lost its way. Los Angeles is one of the most tolerant places in the world, but you’d never know it from the comments on the L.A. Times. Putting it into perspective, though, we should recognize that it only takes a handful of people to set a tone of hostility and resentment. And of course, much of it is good old flaming and trolling. Trolls take advantage of negligent policies.

    The New York Times not only moderates comments, but also limits comments to specific articles where it will be relevant and/or civil. It would appear that the NYT anticipate where people will make inflammatory comments, and they simply turn comments off. In fact, I would guess only 10-20% of NYT articles have the comments turned on.

    The bottom line is that the L.A. Times still has its moments of good journalism, but overall it has be come a second rate operation. It is plagued by editorial and managerial mismanagement. For those of us who remember the LA Times as a first-rate paper, it’s hard to accept the fall. But the reality is that we won’t have great journalism unless the people have higher standards and are willing to pay to support it. And I must admit that, while I love my Southern California homeland, I don’t feel we have a strong appreciation and support for journalism in the community.