By: E&P Staff
The Miami Herald is finding that allowing comments at the end of stories is making a big impact — and also causing difficulties, resulting in a new policy, Editor Anders Gyllenhaal announced in a Letter to Readers today.
Six months after the paper installed comments, it is finding it is creating a community they never expected. The commenters are proving to be sources of invaluable information, such as during disasters, he wrote. When the power went out in South Florida two weeks ago, the comments were a great source of updates.
But drawbacks abound, such as profane and inappropriate comments, often along “cultural” fault lines.
“We’ve tried a number of things: A team of editors reads over the message pages throughout the day and at night when the news is heavy and removes comments that are clearly out of bounds,” he wrote. “We’ve created filters to block offensive words and profanity, a list of which now stretches to 150 words in three languages.”
But more was needed, “Starting this week, readers wishing to post comments need to be registered with MiamiHerald.com, a simple step that becomes invisible on subsequent visits. Anyone already registered doesn’t need to do anything. Readers’ sign-ons are automatically attached to their comments.
“This last measure took some time to put into place for technical reasons but has quickly helped shape the tenor of the debate. We hope these steps will enable this important discussion to thrive. The appeal of the comment pages is that the paper steps out of the way and lets readers take over.”
You can read the full column here.