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Salt Lake Tribune shuts down comments on infant murder story

Published April 15, 2014 9:04 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake Tribune Digital Director Kevin Winters Morriss took an unusual measure Monday.

In consultation with Editor and Publisher Terry Orme and myself, Morriss shut down comments on the sltrib.com story about a Pleasant Grove woman alleged to have murdered six infants she gave birth to from 1996 to 2006.

The Tribune is committed to providing an open forum to readers who follow basic rules in commenting on stories at sltrib.com.

But some commenters so blatantly violated those rules of basic civility Monday that we had little choice other than to end the discussion for all commenters.

By 9 a.m., readers had flagged more than 350 comments on the story — and counting — as being in violation of our rules. Some frequent commenters asked us to act, and we did — decisively.

We took the rare action seriously because our goal remains to provide an open forum for productive conversation on issues important to Utahns as well as those visiting sltrib.com from outside the state.

But we rely on commenters to follow our rules, which clearly state that "we will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks."

In addition, "flagrant or repeat violators will be banned," according to our policy, which is spelled out in detail here.

Civility is key, and we continue to urge those of you who see inappropriate comments to flag them so we can evaluate whether they violate our policy.

Morriss reviewed all flagged comments on Monday's Megan Huntsman story and said he and other moderators deleted hundreds of them.

"It's not a step we ever want to take but we felt the debate had taken a turn that was in complete violation of our policy," Morriss said.

Let's hope we don't have to take such action again.