The Toronto Star is the latest newspaper to eliminate online commenting from its website.
Like many other news outlets, the Star found the comments section to be filled with problematic comments and that better responses to the newspaper’s reporting can be found on social media. Readers were also often upset by mean and false comments.
“In one camp were readers — and journalists — who questioned the incivility and mean-spirited tone of too many anonymous online comments,” public editor Kathy English summarized. “On the other side were those commenters who too often became enraged when their ‘objectionable’ comments were rejected for publication.”
English said the comments section generated tons of complaints to the Star and it became a “cesspool of complaints almost from the get-go.” Though the Star allowed anonymous comments, the newspaper required those readers who wished to comment to register before doing so.
Earlier this month, the Star announced the decision to close its online comments. The newspaper will now promote reader responses from social media and e-mails.
“We have turned off commenting on thestar.com effective Wednesday [Dec. 16] and instead we’ll be promoting and showcasing the comments our readers share across social media and in their letters and emails to our editors,” the Star‘s editor Michael Cooke said. “In the New Year, we will be launching new campaigns for our readers to have their say about the issues that matter to our city.”
“Our objective is to highlight the most thoughtful, insightful and provocative comments from readers and to inspire discussion across other platforms and on thestar.com,” Cooke added calling 2016 “the year of the reader.”
Readers’ reaction to the decision to axe online commenting has been “overwhelmingly positive,” public editor English reported.
In April, the Daily Beast got rid of its online comments, as iMediaEthics wrote. Last year, Reuters, Popular Science and the Chicago Sun-Times ended their comments sections.