Montana newspaper ends online comments after section becomes ugly

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And another news site has ended its online comments section thanks to “ugly” contributions.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, a daily newspaper in Bozeman, Montana, announced this week it is throwing in the towel on online comments because “meaningful comments have become the overwhelming exception rather than the norm.”

“We’ve morphed from legitimate discussion and disagreement into name-calling and insults,” managing editor Nick Ehli wrote. “I’m smart; you’re dumb. The politician I support is wonderful; you’re an idiot for not agreeing with me. Back and forth with little hope of thoughtful dialogue that helps shape our community.”

Moving forward, readers can share comments through social media or letters to the editor, which must be signed. Ehli added that the Chronicle wasn’t trying to shut down free speech with its decision, explaining that the newspaper “will simply no longer provide an online venue for anonymous fury and vitriol.”

Ehli told iMediaEthics by e-mail that “the reaction has been mostly positive” to the decision to end commenting.

“Calls and emails to me have run roughly 95 percent in favor of the decision, although I’d say the comments on Facebook have been a pretty even split for and against,” he wrote, adding that the Chronicle has allowed online commenting for “several years.”

NPR decided to stop allowing online comments last year. The Toronto Star eliminated online comments in 2015, as did the Daily Beast. In 2014, Re/code, Reuters, Popular Science and the Chicago Sun-Times all dropped their comments sections.

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Montana Newspaper Ends Online Comments after Section becomes ‘I’m Smart, You’re Dumb’

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