As some of you have already noticed, we have closed our online Comments feature for some redesign and renovation. We think that comments are very important, because they can give a voice to all of our readers in an unusual and immediate way, and we are a better news organization for hosting the conversation. But the feature has been around for a long time (we guess 15 years — a free subscription for any non-employee who can help us be more precise), and a great deal has changed since we started.
Comments are unusual for newspapers, because you, our readers, create the content and use our megaphone to get your opinions, judgments, and observations out there. And we then take on a responsibility to make sure that your opinions meet our standards — it’s our MV Times, after all — for civility, and for reasonable accuracy. The conversation needs to be inclusive — of a great breadth of opinions, but also of broad standards of civility.
When these stars align, there are two more requirements: We should always check to see if our approach to capturing and sharing reader voices and structuring the conversation is best for the (lowercase t) times. That will take some honest introspection. And we should make sure we have the skilled staff-power available to do the relentless job of managing the comments section itself. All news organizations, especially scrappy ones like ours, fight to lay claim to every ounce of reportorial and editorial energy we can acquire; we need to use each hour wisely.
We are all anxious to hear from you with ideas and suggestions, or complaints, about the way Times comments work. Please send them to email@example.com. We will check back in soon.
Thanks again for trusting us with The Times.
Barbara and Peter Oberfest, publishers
Connie Berry, managing editor
Sam Houghton, news editor