The final reason to stop hosting reader comments
In February 2015, I published a post that asked if webcomic creators really needed to host a comments section on their sites. By May of that year, I reported that I had curtailed commenting — and it had numerous positive side-effects for me. This release from NPR.org made it even more clear…
NPR is making an announcement today that is sure to upset a loyal core of its audience, those who comment online at NPR.org (including those who comment on this blog). As of Aug. 23, online comments, a feature of the site since 2008, will be disabled.
With the change, NPR joins a long list of other news organizations choosing to move conversations about its journalism off its own site and instead rely on social media to pick up the slack. But NPR stands for National Public Radio, so a decision to limit “public” input at NPR.org seems especially jarring.
The decision should not be taken to mean that NPR does not value audience engagement, said Scott Montgomery, managing editor for digital news. “We’ve been working on audience engagement, user connections, in a variety of ways, for many, many years, certainly going back to even before the internet. It is a part of public media. It’s important to us,” he told me.
But at this point, he argued, the audience itself has decided for NPR, choosing to engage much more via social media, primarily on Twitter and Facebook, rather than in the NPR.org comments section.
“We’ve reached the point where we’ve realized that there are other, better ways to achieve the same kind of community discussion around the issues we raise in our journalism,” he said, with money, and spending it efficiently, part of the issue. More than 5 million people each month engage with NPR on Twitter, compared to just a fraction of that number in the NPR.org comments. “In relative terms, as we set priorities, it becomes increasingly clear that the market has spoken. This is where people want to engage with us. So that’s what we’re going to emphasize,” he said.
Here’s an analysis of what that means to you