For the Record
Dean Wright on Ethics, Innovation and Values
Visitors to this space may recall that I wrote this summer about the issues Reuters and other news organizations face in dealing with reader comments on stories.
I’ve become increasingly concerned about the quality of discourse in comments on news stories on Reuters.com and on other major news sites. On some stories, the “conversation” has been little more than partisans slinging invective at each other under the cloak of anonymity.
I believe our time-challenged, professional readers want to see a more rewarding conversation—and my colleagues who lead Reuters.com are introducing a new process for comments that I believe will help bring that about.
The new process, which gives special status to readers whose comments have passed muster in the past, won’t address the anonymity issue, but I do think it is an important step toward a more civil and thoughtful conversation.
Reuters recently hosted a panel at our New York headquarters called “Audience and the Media: A Shaky Marriage.” I was on the panel with a distinguished group: Lisa Shepard, ombudsman of National Public Radio; Andrew Alexander, ombudsman of The Washington Post; and Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor of The Associated Press. Jack Shafer, editor-at-large of Slate, was the moderator.