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Mediatwits #150: Should News Sites Kill Comments or Cultivate Them?

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Online comments sections - in their most ideal form - are supposed to be places readers could leave their thoughts after they had read an article. It was supposed to serve as a forum where civilized discussion could take place and would add value even after a piece was finished. Instead, we’ve all become more acquainted with the Internet troll and flaming. Now, many news organizations are re-evaluating the necessity of having comments sections at all. In 2013, the Huffington Post banned anonymous commenters. Last year, Reuters (for news stories), Popular Science, Re/code, and the Chicago Sun-Times eliminated their comments and were joined this year by Bloomberg. Tablet Magazine made news last month when it announced a plan to charge would-be commenters. And yet, many news organizations still maintain comment sections and find value having them. We’ll dive into the issue with Dan Colarusso, executive editor of digital at Reuters; Bassey Etim, community manager for the New York Times; Dave Mosher, online director at Popular Science; and Talia Stroud, director of the Engaging News Project at the University of Texas Austin. PBS MediaShift’s Mark Glaser will host and Jefferson Yen will be producing.