from the disingenuous-drivel dept
The Toronto Sun is the latest to join what's now a massive trend, a note to readers proclaiming that the paper is regretfully killing its news comment section because the paper just can't figure out how to interact with human beings in the digital age, and would like to roll the clock back to an era where only editor-approved thinking reaches the readers' eye. The note from Sun editor James Wallace begins:
"The voice of our reader has always been a critical part of the Sun."So critical that we no longer feel like allowing it on site!
"As a paper, we pride ourselves both on dishing out and taking criticism - especially when the latter comes from our readers."Yes we're so proud of this criticism we're eliminating the ability for you to view this criticism at all. Like other comment-killing websites, the Sun pretends this is a temporary measure while the website figures out a better way to deal with reader feedback and opinion (read: throw it at social media and forget about it):
"Therefore we have decided, for the time being, to no longer allow commenting on most online articles until we sort out a better and more accountable way for our readers to interact with us and each other. Like a growing number of news organizations, we are also moving away from anonymous commenting because there are other options that encourage respectful, civil debate. Much of that debate already takes place on social media."What the Sun and other websites don't yet understand is that by eliminating site comments, you're not only killing a strong, local, on-site community, you're harming news transparency. Like it or not news is now a conversation between sites, between news outlets, and perhaps most importantly between the public and news outlets. Having a comment section -- however filled with bile poorly-managed sections can be -- is part of that transparent process of fact collection, analysis, and correction.
As more and more sites have shuttered comments I've become increasingly aware of my own knee-jerk tendency to head to the comments to see what the author may have missed or misinterpreted; something I can no longer do at places like The Verge, ReCode, Reuters, Popular Science, The Daily Beast, and many others. Shoveling this important discourse over to social media is one way of hiding the reality that your reporters and your outlet can make errors, may not always have the full picture, and aren't (gasp) infallible:
@KarlBode If the convo is scattered across social media then only the publisher "sees" the convos, the readers have to dig thru hashtags etc— Cynthia B. Meyers (@AnneHummert) September 24, 2015
"We regret having to make this decision and are working on a solution that will best serve you, our readers, and the Sun. Meanwhile, keep your comments, views and opinions coming. We value them."Yes, your opinions are so valuable we've decided to dig a six foot hole and bury them. If you want to interact with us, please feel free to shout at us at the curated nitwit cacophony that is Facebook, Tweet at us via the fractured, cordoned off hallways of Twitter, or fire a letter to the editor our way which we'll promptly ignore. For the sake of conversation and respectful debate, of course.