Unclear on the concept: (reddit) /r/politics mods ban serious investigative reporting sources including Mother Jones, City Paper

reddit user TorDrowae writes:

Hey folks. I’m an editor at Mother Jones and a long-time redditor. I’m disappointed, but not entirely surprised, by this decision.

I like to believe that readers (especially redditors) are smart enough to read a bunch of different sources and make up their minds about what’s true. News outlets should ultimately be judged by whether the stories they report turn out to be correct—i.e., whether they are accurate.

A healthy r/politics community would be one that downvotes inaccurate or misleading stories and upvotes accurate ones, not a sub that bans entire domains (except for domains that focus entirely on making things up, like the Onion or whatever).

A clarifying example here might be the Economist. Anyone who reads the Economist presumably understands that it has a libertarian point of view. But there’s not a ton of wailing and gnashing of teeth about it because everyone assumes that the readers are smart enough to separate the facts from how the paper sees them.

If r/politics community members are having trouble separating op-ed pieces from news reporting, that’s too bad. But that doesn’t mean essential work from great reporters (to pick someone on the other side of the ideological spectrum) such as National Review’s Robert Costa should be banned from the sub. Just an unfortunate decision, and a slippery slope, too.

All reporters make decisions that are affected by their personal biases—who to call, what to cover, whom to trust. Is the sub going to start taking seriously the complaints of conservatives who think the New York Times or the Guardian have too much of an agenda? What about liberal complaints about Fox News? Where does this end?

Now, I know that reddit isn’t a lot of tumblr user’s favorite website, but their influence in disseminating news across the internet can not be denied.

User TorDrowae continues:

For transparency’s sake, here’s a note I sent to one of the r/politics mods about this: this press release: http://www.motherjones.com/about/press/mother-jones-editors-receive-pen-american-center-nora-magid-award lists many of the recent awards, including National Magazine Awards, which are like Pulitzers for magazines (magazines aren’t eligible for Pulitzers). I think you’d also help your case by advocating for, say, the conservative mag National Review to be unbanned. They have a lot of opinion content, but they also have some fantastic reporters. Another point to make is probably that the biggest political news of the campaign, the video of Mitt Romney’s 47% comments, broke on Mother Jones.com. Without access to that, r/politics users would have not have had direct access to a crucial story.

More broadly, more and more news is being produced by outlets—HuffPo, National Review, MoJo, the Nation, the Daily Caller—with ideological identities. r/politics users will be missing a big part of the political conversation if they don’t have access to those sites.

User Townsley also points out (emphasis added by me, to underline why this is important)

Hi, I love Mark Follman’s work on Mother Jones and contacted him about this as well. We have the only crowd sourced mass shooting tracker in the world at /r/gunsarecool - Follman’s work is great and not only is it absolutely fact based and informative - it is critical to an understanding of the impact guns have on our nation and to any political discussion about guns in our country.

http://www.motherjones.com/special-reports/2012/12/guns-in-america-mass-shootings

Unfortunately, /r/politics has extremely weak moderation right now and one moderator in particular (/u/theredditpope) combined with some hardcore conservatives (and other complacent and inactive mods) to make sure that redditors won’t see reporting like this on mass shootings in America.

This was a huge win for the hardcore right - good investigative fact based journalism has repeatedly been damaging to the right on reddit. It is really important for them - and now /u/theredditpope apparently - that they don’t allow redditors access to a factual catalogue of shootings as a part of their political discussion.

In what world does this make sense in a sub called /r/politics? You got me.

Getting /u/theredditpope and others to purge entire domains and journalism like that from reddit is the new landmark example of bad moderation.

If you want to do something about it to start, I would contact the website’s founders /u/yishan about /u/kn0thing (Alexis) about this. They usually do not interfere with moderation decisions, but they have already removed /r/politics as a default under the present moderation leadership.

They know /r/politics has been struggling for quite some time.

You can also contact Yishan and Alexis on twitter @yishan and @alexisohanian.

They also managed to remove Salon, the political watchdog Media Matters, the Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, Think Progress and Crooks and Liars among others. Until /u/theredditpope and the present leadership took over, somehow minds on reddit were able to survive reporting from these sources.

Do you have people you or I can contact there? I’m sure they would be interested to know that after 8 years, they have just been censored from over 3 million subscribers on reddit.

The entire discussion can be found here.