Reuters is no longer letting readers comment on news stories. Comments will be allowed on opinion and blogposts, though.
The decision was announced Nov. 7 in a post from Reuters Digital Executive Editor Dan Colarusso on the news service’s website. Instead of letting readers comment directly on news stories, Reuters expects readers to go to “social media and online forums.”
“Much of the well-informed and articulate discussion around news, as well as criticism or praise for stories, has moved to social media and online forums,” Colarusso wrote. “Those communities offer vibrant conversation and, importantly, are self-policed by participants to keep on the fringes those who would abuse the privilege of commenting.”
He went on,
“We value conversation about the news, but the idea of comments on a website must give way to new realities of behavior in the marketplace.The best place for this conversation is where it is open to the largest number of participants possible.”
This is dumb: Reuters ends reader comments because Facebook and Twitter exist, and also we have email addresses: http://t.co/luyLeCkbFP
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) November 7, 2014
iMediaEthics asked Reuters what prompted the decision and for further comment. A Reuters spokesperson pointed to the blogpost announcing the decision.
Earlier this week, Globe and Mail public editor Sylvia Stead blogged in response to reader questions about why certain stories don’t have comment sections.
Stead cited an internal memo from globeandmail.com’s executive editor Jim Sheppard explaining that there aren’t comments on “stories about possible criminal activities or where the danger of a future lawsuit is real.”
The newspaper also moderates comments prior to publication on stories about “broader issues that arise from such incidents” like sexual harassment.
“While I understand the need to close comments on some articles, I agree that on many subjects premoderation is a better idea than simply closing comments,” Stead wrote. She also suggested that opinion columns should be exempt from comment blocking.
The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star both blocked comments last year on stories about the video of then-Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack. Both newspapers’ public editors explained there is a possibility of offensive comments or comments that could be in contempt of court.
In June, media website Mediaite called moderating comments “a waste of time” and said it was blocking all comments with racist and personal attacks. Mediaite told readers,” You are not entitled to commenting here.”
And, in May, National Journal decided to block comments on most stories.
The Chicago Sun-Times started “temporarily” blocking comments because of “lots of general qualitative issues,” managing editor Craig Newman told iMediaEthics.
Back in 2012, the Scottish Daily Record axed comments on all football stories because of abusive commenters.