Friday, 10 June 2011

Ventnor Blog told it could lose IoW Council accreditation in row over readers' comments

The Ventnor Blog has received legal letters from the Isle of Wight Council asking it to remove several readers’ comments from its site and been warned it could lose its media accreditation, reports the Meeja Law website.

The blog has a post-moderation policy and has complied with the council's request to remove the contentious comments.

At the heart of the issue, says Meeja Law, is the council’s objection to VB moderating its user-generated comments after, rather than before, publication.

VB says it believes that post-comment moderation is an industry standard. The site told Meeja Law that to change the moderation policy to moderate all comments before they go live on the website “would go against the advice from our media lawyers and the policy that most major publishers also work by”.

Steve Beynon, Isle of Wight council chief executive, told Meeja Law, in a statement: “The council has no wish to frustrate free speech however it is my belief – shared by members of the media team who are trained journalists with decades of experience in the industry – that with free speech comes responsibility.
“Just as letters to a newspaper are checked from a legal point of view by a trained editor and ‘live’ calls to a radio phone-in would usually be subject to a delay to prevent inappropriate comments being broadcast, I believe comments left on a website that purports to be a news outlet should also be checked to ensure potentially defamatory material is not published.
“Many current affairs news sites pre-moderate comments with little apparent harm to the principles of free speech."

Beynon said:“We have not issued any threats to Ventnor Blog but have sought an assurance that they will take steps to reduce the likelihood of further potential defamations by more actively moderating their site.

“Without this reassurance we will reconsider, as is our right, whether we continue to accredit Ventnor Blog as a media outlet with which we are prepared to deal. If an outlet wants to be treated as a genuine news organisation rather than a blog, then we feel it reasonable they adhere to the same principles as all the other news outlets with which we deal.”

VB told Meejah Law:“To suggest that our media accreditation is at risk should we not comply with [the council's] wishes to change our moderation policy is wholly unacceptable.”
  • Meeja Law would be interested to hear from media lawyers, bloggers and journalists with their views on pre and post comment moderation policies, as well as the issues for local authorities making legal claims.

1 comment:

Franchise disputes said...

We should follow the rules and regurgitation of blog commenting.
Very nice and informative post, thanks for sharing.