New Haven Independent shuts down comments for now

New Haven Independent editor Paul Bass says he’s turning off comments “while we reexamine our role in convening civic debate.”

We’re calling a time-out. A hiatus in posting readers’ comments. Just so we can all catch our breath and start anew.

Readers’ comments are integral to the Independent. Over the years they have enlivened our stories, taken them to new places, and most importantly brought together people in conversation who would never have shared ideas otherwise. …But without civility, without respect, a free forum turns into a soul-destroying free-for-all. A few people can foul that forum. Lately it’s been far more than a few. And we’ve failed to prevent that from happening.

The news site’s “time-out” has Journal Register Co. group editor Matt DeRienzo asking: “How can the community be part of your journalism if you don’t even allow them to comment on what you do?”

* Time out! Commenting has been closed



  1. Bill Reader said:

    There is one easy solution to the “civility” issue in comment forums — hire editors with strong “free speech” beliefs to edit and manage the forums.

    If comments really are “integral,” then they should be worth an FTE or two in the newsroom.

  2. Dave Barnes said:

    Bill gets a +1.

  3. John Kroll said:

    Make that +2. Then again, comment moderation calls on qualities not always common in newsrooms. It is a tiring and thankless job, and one that requires patience, a thick skin and the ability to live with the imperfection of the craft. A moderator must be able to put the interests of the whole audience above the demands of any individual, however impassioned. Must be able to apply rules firmly but wisely. Must live with the knowledge that others don’t understand all the work involved and probably don’t think it’s necessary, but always believe they could do it better.

    It’s kind of like copy editing, speaking of integral functions.

  4. Bill Reader said:

    Great point, John. Maybe that’s the work a “public editor” should handle, only with a staff … .

  5. What? What?

    Earth to Paul Bass: The purpose of comments is not “civic debate” and your “roll” in convening civic debate” is marginal on a good day. Comments are for the grinding of dull old axes, the pummeling of dead horses with sledge hammers, and the torching of environs until all around is nothing but a pile of smoldering embers.

    Drool cup wearing “editors” such as yourself who actually believe their “job” is a “profession” have been bitching and moaning about comments for decades. “More heat than light” blah, blah, blah.

    Let me tell you something, Pauly. Flame wars are just fine. In fact, flame wars are good for business. Drop them and drop comments at your peril. But don’t come around huffing and puffing in three months when your traffic craters. You made it crater with your “role in convening civic debate.”

    Now empty your drool cup and go sit on your thumb.