The Toronto Star has done away with reader comments on its website, as online comment boards at newspapers become increasingly rare, the paper's media reporter, James Bradshaw writes.
Michael Cooke, the Star’s editor, said in a note to readers posted Wednesday that the paper has closed commenting on thestar.com, promising to “engage with you in a more meaningful way.”Instead of hosting comments, the Star plans to promote comments shared on social media, or in more traditional letters to the editor, on its website. He also said the paper will launch a campaign to have readers weigh in on important city issues in the new year.
Reader comments, once seen as a fresh way to get a newspaper’s audience more engaged in its journalism, have long been plagued by vitriol, foul language and racism, despite repeated attempts to use human and automated moderators to weed out the worst material. That has made such comment boards a dying breed on newspaper websites, as the conversation shifts to social media, where anonymity is less prevalent.
A spokesperson for the Star confirmed the decision was made “partly because of the negative tone of many comments.”