The other day Bob Garfield had a good kvetch about dumb comments on newspaper websites on his show, On The Media, and I posted my two cents, but I still don’t feel better. I think that’s because Bob’s partly right: comments do suck sometimes.
So, instead of just poking him for sounding like Grandpa Simpson, I’d like to help fix the problem. Here are ten things newspapers could do, right now, to improve the quality of the comments on their sites. (There are lots more, but you know how newspaper editors can’t resist a top ten list.)
I love this list which I feel is very solid. I also think that newspapers/magazines could do this with an IndieWeb approach to give themselves even more control over aggregating and guiding their conversations.
Instead of moving in the correct direction of taking more ownership, most journalistic outlets (here’s a recent example) seem to be ceding their power and audience away to social media. Sure people will have conversations about pieces out in the world, but why not curate and encourage a better and more substantive discussion where you actually have full control? Twitter reactions may help spread their ideas and give some reach, but at best–from a commentary perspective–Twitter and others can only provide for online graffiti-like reactions for the hard work.
I particularly like the idea of having an editor of the comment desk.