Na na na na, I can’t hear you!

If you want a small insight into the trouble the traditional newspaper industry is having in reinventing itself for the digital age, read this head-in-the-sand column by Rem Reider, editor of American Journalism Review.

How to deal with people saying unpleasant things in the space after newspaper stories posted online? Well, don’t allow comments, period. It’s a “no-brainer,” he says.
Yes, a no-brainer if you’re going to be honest about the nature of traditional print journalism: No engagement with readers at all. So, if we’re going to cling to that philosophy, as we go out of business, why not just end all pretenses. Don’t allow story comments at all.
Look, newspapers and online news sites of all kinds, including my own (and see previous post here) are struggling with the issue of abusive anonymous comments.
But unlike the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine’s attempt to provide some nuance to the question this weekend, Reider’s answer is to revert to what, unfortunately, most traditional journalists are most comfortable with … operating in a vacuum, steeped in arrogance and so very out of touch with how technology has empowered the audience.
Don’t use that technology to engage that audience. Instead, Reider argues, pull the plug out of the wall.
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