By Steve Outing
Even though most news websites now allow user comments, it still bugs me to see so little editorial staff participation in comment threads. Having editors and reporters take part and respond to reader comments is a powerful way to keep the discussion more focused and civil. Of course, it’s no guarantee of preventing things from getting out of control, but it helps, a lot.
I just spotted an excellent example (below) of a newspaper staff member diving into an active comment thread. Kudos to Erika Stutzman, editorial page editor of the Boulder Daily Camera, for responding to a user comment that was critical of the paper for publishing a story about its downtown building going up for sale. (The Daily Camera building is prime real estate on the west end of the fabled Pearl Street Mall.)
Yeah, it takes staff journalists extra time to participate. But the benefits of being more “social” online are significant. As modern media consumers now expect their interactions with media companies to be more interactive, diving in and talking directly with readers is necessary for a news organization to remain relevant.