News media outlets and policy on user comments

lizkat

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Well the Philadelphia Inquirer has finally decided to dispense with allowing user comment "on most articles". Very well written explanation of exactly why. Sometimes I wouldn't mind if the Washington Post did likewise instead of probably hiring another dozen moderators every so often to keep up with the trolls and the banned trolls re-upping with another ID etc...


A few excerpts


Why are we doing this?

Commenting on Inquirer.com was long ago hijacked by a small group of trolls who traffic in racism, misogyny, and homophobia. This group comprises a tiny fraction of the Inquirer.com audience. But its impact is disproportionate and enduring.

Why not just invest in more moderation?

Experience has shown that anything short of 24-hour vigilance on all stories is insufficient. The dedicated bad actors in our commenting community are adept at changing their identities. Many have been banned over and over again, only to reappear with a new username later the same day. Many news organizations have made the decision to eliminate or restrict comments in recent years, from National Public Radio, to The Atlantic, to NJ.com, which did a nice job of explaining the decision when comments were removed from its site.

We’d rather invest in vital local journalism than an endless and expensive game of comment whack-a-mole.

Are we turning off comments to silence criticism? Is this a violation of the First Amendment?

No. The Inquirer embraces diverse points of view, relevant criticism of our work, and robust debate. Some comment threads include those elements. Most do not.

The First Amendment limits the government’s ability to regulate speech. It does not require news organizations to treat all speech as equal, or to provide an open forum for comments. Rather, the First Amendment ensures The Inquirer’s right to publish what The Inquirer chooses to publish.
 

Eric

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Well the Philadelphia Inquirer has finally decided to dispense with allowing user comment "on most articles". Very well written explanation of exactly why. Sometimes I wouldn't mind if the Washington Post did likewise instead of probably hiring another dozen moderators every so often to keep up with the trolls and the banned trolls re-upping with another ID etc...


A few excerpts
In other words they're infringing on their right to be racist, something we should all do. Whether it's veiled and openly allowed as it is at MacRumors or more blatant like the group they're citing here, it's up to site content owners to put a stop to it. Turning off comments is the best way, otherwise you need to have moderators battling wigged out Trump supporters all day long. In time hopefully they'll learn society no longer has a place for them and they'll STFU, until then keep calling them out and cancel culture their asses until they get the message.
 

lizkat

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I see this as a positive.

The last time a print news operation had a comment section that didn't get out of control, it was called "Letters to the Editor".

Pretty much. It's interesting that the Philadelphia Inquirer thinks it can still manage to moderate comments left open in the sports section online! I would have thought that a haven for "hold my beer" and far worse remarks... but I guess they'll have spare moderator power for that duty after these changes.
 

lizkat

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Media labs are getting interested in how air time allocated to political views stacks up versus actual representation of Americans in legislative bodies. As many of us may have noted in our anecdotal observations, it turns out that yes, media tend to give extreme ends of the US political spectrum more coverage, which in turn tends to exacerbate the public's sense of polarization past what it may actually be.

Drama sells papers... and also jacks up TV ratings, even when consumers of news and political info find the drama exhausting or exasperating.


The question remains whether news consumers realize that higher coverage of extreme views is not a true picture of where voters stand in the USA nor where most of their Congressional reps stand either. For some viewers, the answer would seem to be no: so far it has worked for decades now in "safe" red districts to primary moderate Republican incumbents from farther right every two years.

Maybe now with the air time recently given to extraordinarily outspoken far right House members like Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn, more voters in red districts will be asking themselves whether those House members fully represent their own views on both policy and acceptable behavior of lawmakers. It's not clear to me that some Republican state party officials haven't got out ahead of the curve in expressing support for the hard right wing of the GOP and most recently on the matter of support for Trump as their standard bearer.
 

SuperMatt

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Media labs are getting interested in how air time allocated to political views stacks up versus actual representation of Americans in legislative bodies. As many of us may have noted in our anecdotal observations, it turns out that yes, media tend to give extreme ends of the US political spectrum more coverage, which in turn tends to exacerbate the public's sense of polarization past what it may actually be.

Drama sells papers... and also jacks up TV ratings, even when consumers of news and political info find the drama exhausting or exasperating.


The question remains whether news consumers realize that higher coverage of extreme views is not a true picture of where voters stand in the USA nor where most of their Congressional reps stand either. For some viewers, the answer would seem to be no: so far it has worked for decades now in "safe" red districts to primary moderate Republican incumbents from farther right every two years.

Maybe now with the air time recently given to extraordinarily outspoken far right House members like Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn, more voters in red districts will be asking themselves whether those House members fully represent their own views on both policy and acceptable behavior of lawmakers. It's not clear to me that some Republican state party officials haven't got out ahead of the curve in expressing support for the hard right wing of the GOP and most recently on the matter of support for Trump as their standard bearer.
Very good point; there’s nothing extraordinary about these members of Congress. If we all ignored them, they might actually go away.
 
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Why not include a 5 question quiz you can only take once and require an 80% score before allowing comments?
 

lizkat

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Why not include a 5 question quiz you can only take once and require an 80% score before allowing comments?

Not a bad idea but you think whoever funds an army of trolls to comment in online papers can't hire an official test taker? I think the media outlets are realizing it's less expensive (and more to the point of their existence) to pay more for journos reporting news the consumers can use, and less for a raft of comments moderators.

Sure, some might miss the drama of comments sections, but most will not and if they do want that drama, there's always regular social media.
 
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