Comments on Commercial Appeal
stories have been suspended “for now” in an experiment spread across 23 news organizations in the USA Today network, the paper announced Thursday
"The comment sections on commercialappeal.com have often been a toxic space meant instead [for] the thoughtful exchange of ideas,” said Dann Miller, the CA’s
senior consumer experience director, in an afternoon post. "That must change.”
Miller said the paper is looking for better ways to “have meaningful discussion around our content.” To do this, USA Today has teamed with the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Media Engagement
. This team also includes Coral,
a company with a comments platform that allows for identifying journalists in the conversation, muting “annoying voices,” and more.
The move follows similar shutterings of comments sections by national media brands like NPR, CNN, ESPN, and more. Vice
shut down its comments section in December 2016. When it did, Jonathan Smith, then editor in chief of vice.com, said the section was "prone to anarchy
"Too often they devolve into racist, misogynistic maelstroms where the loudest, most offensive, and stupidest opinions get pushed to the top and the more reasoned responses drowned out in the noise," Smith wrote.
But the CA's
Miller offered up other channels for comment.
“Our goal isn’t to permanently end comments, nor is it to discourage feedback,” Miller said. “We still want to hear from you and we’ll continue to welcome comments on our Facebook page and through letters to the editor, which can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Comments can now also be sent to email@example.com.