USA Today’s Fingers in Ears

The other day, I ran across an article that reported that prisoners let out of prison at the end of their sentences are given more help from the government than accuseds’ who are found innocent when they are freed from prison. The article ignored one rather important fact: What the government says it does is not what it actually does.

I could go on for quite awhile about that fact but I need only illustrate my point. Federal law requires that its prisoners complete courses in six areas before release, courses that, for example, teach the prisoners such things as how to manage money. Sounds reasonable? Well, the one I took was taught by a prisoner who had been in prison so long that he did not know the present-day realities of managing money. The government will tell you that this course teaches a lot; they have tests to prove it. What they won’t tell you is that the instructor gave the answers to the questions on the final while we were taking it. Three of the other courses were the same. The other two “courses” consisted of some officials giving a lecture that contained nothing more than typical government lies about how it was there to help prisoners get back on their feet.

As someone with firsthand knowledge of this, I was in a unique position to comment on the article. I’ll let my e-mail tell the rest of the story:

Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2012 16:18:19 -0400
From: Bill Wells
To: debrown@usatoday.com
Subject: commenting forbidden

I had wished to comment on a recent article about how innocent prisoners are helped on release less than those found guilty, as I have specific, relevant input on the topic.

Then I read that only those who have Facebook accounts can comment.

Facebook doesn’t allow those who are convicted sex offenders to have accounts.

Therefore, USA Today does not allow convicted sex offenders to comment on its posts.

Therefore, I may not provide my input.

It’s bad enough that America has a government that will convict those who are demonstrably not guilty. But that’s to be expected when its news media do things like refusing to hear the government’s victims.

 

From: “Brown, Desair E”
To: Bill Wells
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2012 16:19:50 -0400
Subject: RE: commenting forbidden

Hi Bill,

Thanks very much for the e-mail. We understand that not everyone is interested in using Facebook or even able to use a Facebook account to comment, but part of the reason for the switch is to help enhance the conversation and moderation on USATODAY.com. So far we’ve seen dramatic improvements there. The hope is that creating a more welcoming environment will encourage all readers to participate in the conversation, but I recognize the hindrances it may cause for people unable to access Facebook for whatever reason. I have alerted my supervisor to this specific issue and we’ll be sure to keep the feedback in mind for future enhancements to the site.

If they’ve committed to using Facebook as their comment filter, they’re not going to be creating additional mechanisms to enable sex offenders (and would-be pseudonymous commenters, and anyone else unable to use Facebook) to comment. That would defeat the purpose of using Facebook. Moreover, there are far better ways to improve the quality of comments than using Facebook. So, their reply was disingenuous.

Freedom of the press belongs to those who own the presses. But USA Today will never get my patronage and I wish them only a rapid and unpleasant descent into insolvency and dissolution.

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3 thoughts on “USA Today’s Fingers in Ears

  1. It’s a small piece of what you’re discussing, but I think Facebook’s attempt to gain monopolies on comments on websites is falling apart. My local newspaper, the Nashua Telegraph, had a Facebook-only letters policy for a while but has abandoned it.

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