I confess – as someone who spends a little bit of time online over the course of a week, on occasion I’ve stumbled onto something posted on one site or another that has prompted me to leave some sort of comment. Admittedly, it’s usually something fairly insignificant that makes me take that step – say, a typo that, at that moment, renders me speechless in the real world but able to unleash all sorts of virtual vitriol; or an opinion stated on a topic dear to me that is so obviously wrong (well, at least to me) that it needs to be shot to pieces.
After such fits of pique, I usually feel a wave of guilt – not necessarily for calling someone out, but for contributing to the deepening pile of catty commentary on the Web. Thus, the guilt keeps my trigger-happy instincts at bay, and prevents many comments sections from being sullied by my temper-fuelled two cents.
My misgivings about our instant age of opinion mostly stem from the process. Perhaps I’m dating myself when I say I can recall the days when a comment on an article – be it a bouquet or a brickbat – had to come in the form of a “letter to the editor.” A signed one, at that. But online, anonymity rules, and that supposed cloak of invisibility provides some opinion-bearers with a perceived carte blanche to wrap their perspectives in mistruths, accusations and – perhaps most egregiously – absolutely miserable spelling.
Still, that doesn’t speak for all readers of online content, and certainly with realscreen.com, I find it fascinating to see how some of the stories we run enter the wider world at large, passed along through the ether by people who are in some cases quite far removed from our industry. It’s also illuminating to gauge through the commentary what programming is connecting with audiences, and why.
As we’ve done historically with realscreen, we encourage the intelligent exchange of opinion and ideas within our pages and online. Thus, with this issue, we’re introducing a new column from Arrow Media creative director John Smithson, in which he’ll supply his producer’s perspective on a number of topics. This is in addition to our reality columnist Andy Dehnart, and “Best Practices” contributor Chris Palmer.
We will also continue to offer our “Think About It” op-ed section for those of you who want to chime in on a topic impacting the non-fiction content industry, and of course, in the weeks ahead we’ll be harassing you for your thoughts regarding who should appear in the upcoming edition of our annual Global 100 listing of the world’s top non-fiction production companies.
So by all means, when it comes to contributing to what we do here at realscreen, don’t keep your opinions to yourself. It’s as much your platform as it is ours. Now if you’ll excuse me, there are a couple message boards I have to pop into…