As National Public Radio (NPR) disables its comment feature, we realize that we need those comment sections on news websites more than ever.
As of August 23, NPR decided to remove the comment section from their website and move in a new direction. Noticing that only a small percentage of their viewers commented, they decided the conversation should move to where the hotspot for talking seems to be: social media.
In fact, many news websites are moving the conversations to social media, including Popular Science and some facets of USA Today. Many of the companies seem to be saying their comment sections are less intelligent conversations and debates and more trolls and angry haters. There have also been complaints about the commenting systems.
Trolling is making a deliberately offensive or provocative post online to make others respond or become upset.
News websites exist to inform and connect people, to start conversations do not they?
Comment sections of websites exist as a place for discussions to take place, and the exchange of ideas and opinions to happen. Without them, some people’s points of view may never leave the walls of their homes, and that definitely does not help to connect and inform people.
If news websites want to focus on social media, then they should be allowed to do so, but they should not take the comments off of their websites entirely. By alienating people who do not have or use social media, they are taking voices away from the topic, not adding them.
We need comment sections because people should be able to express their thoughts, opinions and concerns with the source readily available and where the news outlet is more likely to see it.
There will always be trolls and haters and spam in every section of the internet, and there will always be flaws in communication. If a news outlet wanted to control the quality of comments on their website, they could easily put a filter on their comment section or even hire someone to go through and filter out spammers for the company instead. They could easily add a comment limit too.
News websites could even make it where the only people who allowed to comment would be those subscribed to the website or who have accounts. Rather than doing any of those things, some major news websites are shutting down their comments completely, excluding anyone who is not on social media.
Without the comment sections on websites, news companies are restricted to viewing the 140 character responses on Twitter, the 2,200 character limit responses on Instagram and the even more hectic comments on Facebook. We need comment sections because limiting the places that the company receives feedback from won’t help the news or its readers.