TV Station Websites Are Making Viewer Comments Harder to Find

More than likely, TV and newspapers regret the day that they let viewers/readers comment on their websites.

And now as both TV stations and newspapers redesign their websites to new looks, you are having a tougher time finding the comments section.

Often times the comments having nothing to do with the story that they are posted under. More often than not the comments become political with the right bashing the left and the left bashing the right.

"This is what happens when you let a Muslim into the White House," says one comment that was posted on a TV station's website. The thing is the story was about black Friday shopping. The comments below the story were rarely on topic and amounted to people just arguing with each other.

Poynter points out that when the LA Times redid their website, the comments moved to a separate page. 

The Times change reflects a trend among news websites. Many are moving reader comments onto separate pages, or – in a few cases – eliminating them entirely, often because of concerns about their acerbic content.

“Everyone in the industry has struggled with how to handle comments,” said Times Deputy Managing Editor Megan Garvey. In a phone interview, she said the change was designed to create a “more discrete reading experience.”

“If you want to participate with the comments, you can open them up and you can spend your time there,” Garvey said. “But if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t read comments, you can just read the story in peace.”

They’re saying if you really want to read the comments, you’ll have to go a little bit out of your way,” said University of Houston Communications Professor Arthur Santana, who studies the evolution of website comment forums. “They really are worried that (comments) are bringing down the brand identity of the news organization.”

“These commenting forums are very much a cesspool of incivility, racism, and sexism,” Santana said in a phone interview. “It’s just the worst of humankind.”

“Newspapers allowed commenting forums, and almost immediately regretted it,” he said.

TV stations do as well. "It's not good to have your thin skinned main Anchor reading the comments on the station's website," said one News Director to FTVLive.

The ND says he would love to ditch the comments altogether, but he knows they will "just move to our Facebook page".

But at least on Facebook, most people have to put their real names to the comments. Of course they can create a fake account and some do, but it is still more civil than what you see on the station's website.

Bottom line as station's redo their websites, expect the comments section to get harder and harder to find. 

H/T Poynter