Tags: Ferguson in Crisis | Post-Dispatch | internet comments

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Shuts Down Web Comments Over Ferguson

By    |   Monday, 08 Dec 2014 12:10 PM

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is turning off comments to readers for one reason: Ferguson.

Readers will no longer be able to post comments on editorials, columns and letters to the editor. Comments will only be allowed for news stories, the newspaper's editorial board said Monday.

"Last Sunday, we challenged our region to have the serious discussion on race that it has been avoiding for decades," the editorial board wrote.

"Such difficult discussions are made more challenging when, just to present a thoughtful point of view, you have to endure vile and racist comments, shouting and personal attacks," it added.

Even though the St. Louis Post-Dispatch cited "positive moments" in readers' comments, however "there are other instances where comments deteriorate into racist remarks or demeaning discussion that has nothing to do with the original story or editorial or column."

The problem with such negative comments is that it has what has been officially termed "the nasty effect" by two communications professors from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, according to The New York Times.

"Comments from some readers, our research shows, can significantly distort what other readers think was reported in the first place," wrote Drs. Dominque Brossard and Dietram Scheufele.

And rather than bringing readers together, it can have a polarizing effect, they found.

For these reasons, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is forgoing comments on its editorial pages for now.

However, it added that it's not "we don't want to hear from those who disagree with us." Readers can still send letters, emails, and write comments on Facebook and Twitter.

"We believe those venues offer a safer, more civil place to talk about the racial injustice that dominates the Ferguson discussion," the editorial board said.

The newspaper has been at the forefront of the coverage following the decision of the St. Louis County grand jury not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch readers will no longer be able to post comments on its web site on editorials, columns and letters to the editor.
Post-Dispatch, internet comments
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2014-10-08
Monday, 08 Dec 2014 12:10 PM
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