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Apr-14-2009 08:24printcomments

Internet News: Ideal Place for Reporters Who Don't Mind Abuse

I usually didn't run for the bomb shelters when the mortar and rocket attacks came in Iraq, and dodging bullets in new media can also be a waste of time.

Salem-News.com
Tim King stands with four members of the Sons of Iraq, located not far from the Balad Air Base. Other photos courtesy: geschenke-bestellen24.de and tobicrack.gametrailers.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - I didn't know while growing up that insults can actually make a person stronger. That's been my experience in recent years as an Internet news reporter. I mean people come up with some things that you wouldn't even imagine.

Tim & Bonnie King of Oregon's
News Website: Salem-News.com

Some hate mail is from extremist groups in places like Afghanistan, and some of the hate mail is from extremist groups in places like Topeka, Kansas.

I have a Nazi in Norway who flings hate messages and lots and lots of folks who hail from the religious right that send hate mail almost as a matter of routine.

Then there are the Israeli's who condemn my sympathy for the people of Gaza, and those folks who don't like the fact that I write about the good side of American bikers or world leaders who take care of the poor like Hugo Chavez.

I've been called all sorts of things by the anti-war crowd for the positive stories I have done with American and British Marines and soldiers in the war theaters.

Religious zealots don't like my articles that discuss the positive side of Islamic people. I support peaceful Muslims and IA and ANA soldiers who work closely with our deployed troops in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that doesn't usually make any difference.

Then there are the locals in Oregon and Washington who specialize in keyboard bravery as we often call it. They're the armchair quarterbacks who like to remain anonymous and practice hate electronically; characters brave enough to blast away from the shadows, but that's about it. They're not journalists, they are news consumers with an opinion, which is something that all people have.

They have day jobs. This is my day job.

Evolving Media

I guess it just gets under my skin when people dedicate their lives to journalism and get upstaged, so to speak, by a person who can write in a box that appears next to the same story, and the news consumer instantly contradicts the reporter. You may charge me with complaining, but the comment section is something that exists solely because we wanted it to exist, and our Web Designer Matt Lintz was able to create it.

We're learning to exercise better editorial control, and we've concluded that the comment section is not going to be a place where comment posters make the reporter a whipping boy. The harsh comments just get deleted. People need to be civil, and their words appear. They are always welcome to disagree, but they have to learn to be more polite if they want to make the cut.

Then you get the civil rights crowd. They look at Salem-News.com as a public utility where their "right to free speech" should be honored.

Here's my reaction: Go spend twenty years of your life as an electronic journalist, busting your ass doing hundreds of TV news live shots, covering wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, crime in Mexico, gang violence, murders, political and civic events, natural disasters, and then after you have the whole thing wired, and you have really good news sense, judgment and writing ability, and a ton of news contacts who trust you, start a news Web organization. Then write and edit seven days a week, and come back in five years and talk to me about it again.

In reality, this is a business like any other and we have a right to run it the way we want to. That means we have the right to refuse service to anyone. We don't really want to do that, but it is far better to lose a viewer now and then than to be a propaganda and spamming platform.

Hate Mail

The comments are public and for some, they're a good way to communicate an intelligent thought. For others, as I have suggested, it is a little tirade zone. Unlike other media outlets, we approve or disapprove all comments in person. This keeps our control factor constant and we nab whatever our spam catcher misses. But the comments are only one way people share their thoughts with us.

I almost always post my bio and email address on my articles, and as a result I have my hate mail folder and a "love mail" or kudos folder. They get fed sometimes at about the same rate. Some stories like Lieberman's Demands for War in Iran are Cowardly brought well over a hundred emails in a single day, not to mention the story comments, and the breakdown between support and opposition was almost 50/50.

People deserve a voice and I include my email so that they can really let me know how they feel. Almost every email I receive gets a response even if it is brief. People who have started out hating me over a story have become email friends.

For fun, I am including some one liners from hate mail that are, well... noteworthy?

Tim King as an embedded reporter
coming off patrol with the Army's
101st Airborne in Iraq, Summer '08

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"...will someone please check out timmie and his meds! is he taking to many or not enough?"

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"Lets see, a sniveling liberal "news-coward" (Tim) calling a man (Lieberman) that wants to defend our troops a coward. Time to take off your wife's panty's Tim baby, drink some coffee, maybe talk to your dad about courage."

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"Shut UP you PINKO JARHEAD Lousy logic from a Marine, what a surprise?"

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"Suffer W's last days, Mr. King and know that, in a year or so, when another great city in this country has a gaping, bloody hole in it courtesy of our muslim friends, that B.O. is the clown you voted for. The blood will be on your hands and on his."

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"You can't handle the truth, so you try to fit the world into your fantasies. Do you have a "Bush Lied, People Died" bumper sticker on your Volvo or Prius next to your NPR bumper sticker? Do you have a Che poster next to your bed?"

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"You have no clue my fine man. Another liberal strikes again. Bleading heart liberal. You will destroy this country. Like them so much stay there on your next trip. May see you there."

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Wow, and that is just a little sample of some of the amazing stuff we have received over the years. Actually I just included the hate that was specifically reserved for me. I am honest when I say that I don't personalize it. This is the only way you can make it if you are going to write in an interactive environment.

Of course it wouldn't be right if I didn't include some "love" email to go along with the hate mail. I didn't know exactly where I was going with this article at first and now I feel like a reward is at hand, as I share these positive emails about my articles and videos on Salem-News.com. When you read these, you are hearing some of the most important words that I have had the pleasure of reading. If I had to summarize why this is my chosen path in life, I would refer to the quotes below.

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"Hi Tim, I have enjoyed your reporting on the war front in Afghanistan since I discovered it on the internet, searching for information relating to the recent deployment of one of my family members to Afghanistan. It has been enormously helpful and informative to be able to see and hear what life is like for our loved ones there."

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"Mr. King, Great article. You've gone above and beyond by taking on all those dittoheads. I can tell you won't let the bastards get you down. I wish you well."

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"Thanks for getting the truth out there. Your definition is of a 1%’er is absolutely correct. What’s more, the term “Outlaw” – in 1947 motorcycle racing terms – also meant people who participated in motorcycle races that were NOT sanctioned by the AMA"

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"...there are many individuals here who are so proud of the service these Soldiers are doing to help the Iraqis in the neighboring villages around Balad. Being able to see one of the recipients of the wheelchairs that have been sent was heartwarming."

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I won't go on too much with this, but it is interesting to go over those emails and take in what the different people said over time about different stories. The Web allows such a different level of interactivity; one that never existed with television or newspaper, except for letters to the editor. Radio can be interactive, and many stations over the years have done live call-in programs.

Sometimes those programs allow callers to offer their input about issues, but it is rarely or never going to fly unless it matches the politics of the host. Talk show hosts from the right and left side of the dials routinely disconnect calls they don't like and few are above humiliating people.

And this leads us back to the comment section, and the idea of "citizen journalism". It is the same thing as calling in on a radio program, only much easier and less demanding.

Citizen journalism on this level would be handing the shows from the hosts, over to the audience. It simply wouldn't work. As valuable as some of these opinions may be, they are still opinions and need to remain in that context.

My advice for people is to just know who they are getting their news from. Salem-News.com is not a citizen journalist site in any way. Our writers aren't all career journalists, but they are all good writers.

Members of our staff include a practicing attorney and a retired attorney. These individuals know law and can write about law-related subjects with few rivals.

We have our retired physician who writes about his experiences in WWII and a lifetime of treating patients and training doctors.

The point is that the wisdom needed for writing is there in many individuals and they are qualified, at least to write in particular areas.

The same goes for our cartoon artist who is also an Oregon teacher, and our religious writer who along with many members of our staff, holds a post-graduate degree.

What we do is exactly the same thing that people in TV news departments and newspapers do every day, only our world is much more mobile, physically disconnected as we can publish Internet news from endless locations, streamlined and high tech.

Our team, located mostly but not entirely in the U.S., is constantly on alert for stories that are current and our news content is a mix of articles generated by named reporters and select news releases that are sent by the hundred to our newsroom each week. Sometimes we receive hundreds each day.

We have full-blown multi-media capability and it is growing constantly, along with our visitor count. I honestly don't think we would have achieved what we have without keeping the bar very high; even when we break societal rules by covering medical marijuana as a serious subject and criticizing the brutality of nations like Israel.

We really like to praise positive developments off all types and some of our most visited stories in our five-year history were what would be considered "positive stories".

We are called many things, but we have been consistent for a long time and we look forward to the continued evolution of Internet news and all of the strange things that go along with it.

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Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. Tim recently returned from Iraq where he covered the war there while embedded with an Oregon Guard aviation unit. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




Comments Leave a comment on this story.
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jimmy April 15, 2009 4:03 pm (Pacific time)

KEEP UP THE FIGHT TIM! Print is dead, long live the internet!


Daniel Johnson April 15, 2009 2:24 am (Pacific time)

Subvet416: You appear to believe that Shakespeare's plays were written by Francis Bacon. I have it on good authority that William Shakespeare's were not written by him but by ANOTHER MAN OF THE SAME NAME!


Daniel Johnson April 15, 2009 2:09 am (Pacific time)

The main reason I quit mainstream journalism lo those many years ago (and made my living as a computer programmer the last twenty years) was because editors and broadcasters routinely did not ask the KEY questions and there was no way to actually get their attention. In those days it was telephone and mail and they could (would) just ignore you. SN is the only place I have discovered that will actually allow REAL questions to be asked about conservatism. Granted, there are lots of critics of conservatism, but none that I have ever found actually drill down to the bedrock of what conservatism actually is. They're like critics of religion who just accept the assumption that THERE IS a god. Unless you deal with that question, all criticism of religion is just endless squabbling over details. In my writing here on SN (thank you, Tim King) my continued goal is to explore the unexplorable--at least what has been so in the eyes of the mainstream.


WhatAreTheySpraying? April 14, 2009 2:57 pm (Pacific time)

Look at this defense contractor's website - bottom right picture. This is brand new huh? I swear they've already been doing this. http://www.evergreenaviation.com/index.html


Vic April 14, 2009 2:34 pm (Pacific time)

I for one, am very impressed with the tolerance shown by S-N. 90% of my submissions get posted, compared to only about 50% in the so called liberal portland.indymedia.org.


EvergreenIsCIA April 14, 2009 11:35 am (Pacific time)

That video I posted the link to isn't really relevant, I just find it a little weird. IMO the jet trails in the sky have to do with the fuel additives, but there's no way to know why or what because THE MEDIA WON'T TOUCH IT WITH A TEN FOOT POLE even though everybody's talking about the trails and they want to know the story behind this new phenomenon and it's possible effects on the civilization and the environment re: toxic chemicals and GLOBAL TEMPERATURE.


EvergreenIsCIA April 14, 2009 9:37 am (Pacific time)

I did a little research and found this about Evergreen. Very concise with the allegations over the years against this rather unsavory company in our midst--http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Evergreen_International_Aviation%2C_Inc. ---You know how planes are aerosol spraying overhead? This youtube is 30 seconds long, but VERY telling. Just watch it and tell me what you see. --http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9qC6AlkkNc--Maybe I'm wrong, but look up, somebody's spraying something out of jets almost every day. Long trails that go all the way across the the sky in lines and even criss-cross patterns. Then the spray just expands and hangs there all day long.


NewsConsumer April 14, 2009 9:04 am (Pacific time)

Maybe this lack of intellectual accountability to the average person that you longingly yearn for is part of the reason why the dominant media has become the useless discredited mockery that it has.


CryMeARiver April 14, 2009 8:54 am (Pacific time)

Tim- the simple fact is that you are very opinionated and biased, controversial if you may, sometimes right, sometimes wrong. The comment interaction is a valuable tool. I think 75% of your viewership is a direct result of such feature. Otherwise people would have to read the SN articles to learn what ideas not to believe in. (except for dorsett's "lone voice crying out in the SN wilderness") The common man has much to add to the conversation and keeps the effect of disinfo propaganda to a minimum. It is the peoples' only defense against today's all too rampant yellow journalism. Especially with sponsors such as Evergreen Aviation, a CIA front company known for evacuating foreign puppet dictators during violent revolutions.


Subvet416 April 14, 2009 8:50 am (Pacific time)

"To be or not to be, that is the question; Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing, end them." Francis Bacon,aka William Shakespear. "Life is real only when I am." George Gurdjieff

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©2017 Salem-News.com. All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Salem-News.com.


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