Web Censorship, Chap. MCMLXXXI: The McAllen, Texas Monitor and Freedom Communications, Inc.
October 20, 2010, 12:47 AM
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On Saturday, I wrote on the McAllen Texas Monitor’s Web poll of readers, regarding whether the border ought to be shut down (over 70% of those with an opinion on the matter, said "yes").

While I was schmoozing around the newspaper’s site, I came across the following, undated announcement:

"Reader Comments

 

"From the editor: Many of you have expressed concerns about some of the harsh anonymous comments from readers. To remedy that, we are introducing new features. You can create your own blog, publish your news and share your photos with the community. Once you fill out a simple form and leave a verifiable e-mail address, you can set up your profile page. It will display all of your contributions and allow you to track issues and easily connect with others.

"We want our site to be a place where people discuss and debate ideas that foster stronger communities. We built this for you. Please take care of it. Tolerate broad thinking, but take action against obscene or hateful material. Make it a credible and safe place worth preserving and sharing."

A safe place.

In case you’re thinking, “There goes Stix, flying off the handle again, about an obscure little newspaper in the boondocks,” I Googled  the phrase, “We want our site to be a place where people discuss and debate ideas that foster stronger communities,” and Google came back with 147,000 hits.

As for the boondocks, while big, metropolitan dailies have for years been at death's door or dying, little suburban newspapers were until recently goldmines. (The big city papers have spent over 40 years deliberately alienating their patriotic, predominantly white readership, much of which has fled for the suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas.) They’re put out with small, low-paid editorial staffs, and typically “clustered” with other, nearby papers owned by the same chains, and sharing much of their content, advertising, staff and, ideally, their printing plant. The Monitor is owned by privately held, Irvine, California-based, Freedom Communications, Inc., which says that it owns

more than 100 publications, including 27 daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines and other specialty publications. The broadcast stations—five CBS, two ABC network affiliates and one CW affiliate—reach more than 3 million households across the country. Freedom's news, information and entertainment websites and mobile applications complement its print and broadcast properties.

Thus is “Freedom” censoring millions of people at its many media properties' Web sites.

Funny, but back around the turn of the millennium, when people were lauding the “wild, wild Web,” I don’t recall hearing many calls to make it “a safe place.”