Publicly funded National Public Radio has announced that it will be closing its comments sections in a bid to “move the conversation to social media,” following the lead of many left-wing news sites in doing so.
In a blog post by NPR public editor Elizabeth Jensen, she said that although the decision is “sure to upset a loyal core of its audience,” the company would now prefer to “let social media pick up the slack.”
Scott Montgomery, the managing editor for NPR digital news cited the reason for the move as the company’s need to engage more in social media, saying that NPR has “reached the point where we’ve realized that there are other, better ways to achieve the same kind of community discussion around the issues we raise in our journalism.”
However Jensen also admitted in the post that the company could not keep their comments sections as “civil” as that of the New York Times due to the fact that “they use heavy in-house human moderation that costs far more than NPR currently spends on its outsourced system,” whilst “only opening 10 percent of its articles to comments.”
NPR now joins a number of left-wing news organisations who have become fearful of users giving their opinions, joining sites such as The Guardian, The Verge, and The Daily Beast in telling users to take their opinions elsewhere.
The stated reason behind the majority of these decisions has been the need for the organisation to combat “abuse” and “harassment” on the site. The British newspaper The Guardian even chose to close comment sections under articles specifically relating to race, Islam, or immigration, citing them as topics that attract ““unacceptable levels of toxic commentary.”