You may have read the recent news that NPR decided to discontinue online comments at NPR.org. Editors at NPR reasoned there are better ways to connect with people than what these sections at the bottom of news articles provide.
Their decision sparked a conversation among the editors here at Michigan Radio about the comment section on our website, and we reached the same conclusion: the goal of creating a place to thoughtfully interact with people around the topics raised by our reporting is not being met in the comment section of our website.
The numbers tell us that a very small percentage of the online audience participates in the comment section, and it takes a good amount of staff time to facilitate and monitor this area of the website.
Because our goal of having valuable conversations and interactions is largely not being met in this area, we have decided to discontinue the web comment section of our website on Monday, September 5.
We're having meaningful conversations with you in plenty of other places – places where we feel it is important to spend our time and energy.
- We regularly participate in robust and lively discussions on Facebook around the stories we produce. And, unlike the comment section of the website, we have had the fortune of meeting new people and learning from new communities in this space. New story ideas, new perspectives, and new story leads have been generated from the conversations here. And, yes, we also hear plenty of criticism and critiquing of the stories we produce (believe it or not, we like these conversations!)
- All of our journalists, producers, and hosts interact with people and communities on Twitter. It’s another line of communication where we feel the energy and time expended can be worth the effort. We’ve also seen success on Instagram.
- We organize and host regular community events around the state where we discuss many topics we explore in our reporting – topics like immigration, guns in politics, the state of our roads and infrastructure, pollution in communities, and restoring trust in our government. These in-person gatherings – held in Grand Rapids, Flint, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Detroit, and other cities - have been a great way to meet and interact with the community we serve.
- We also have a new tool that allows us to pursue stories you are interested in. The MI Curious project seeks to answer questions you have about Michigan or its people. You submit a question, the community votes on which question they want answered, and we pursue the question together (with the person who asked it). You can see the stories we’ve pursued in this way here.
We have evolved in how we participate in the community around us and we will continue to do so.
Going forward, we’ll put our energy into those efforts that foster good communication and dialogue – places where all voices and viewpoints have a seat at the table. If you want to share your thoughts or comments or questions about this decision, we’ll talk to you on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, or call us directly.