by Roger Pynn
Here’s some heartening news, shared by former Orlando Sentinel Op-Ed Page Editor and Editorial Board Member Mike Murphy. The Durham, NC, Herald-Sun has pulled the plug on its online comments feature because the discourse was “devolving,” saying “users who would prefer to discuss ideas or the content of the news are being drowned out by a few participants who lob insults at their fellow users.”
The paper suggested people write letters to the editor. That all papers would realize this is only a dream … but certainly worth wishing for. Newspaper comment sections are the sewer of the Internet.
Murphy was managing editor of the team that valiantly tried to provide an online community known as FloridaThinks … an Internet site designed to chronicle some of the state’s most important issues and invite reasoned conversation. That it couldn’t find financial success didn’t prove there isn’t a need for civil discourse … perhaps just that civil people have grown accustomed to the flame throwers who camp out in comment sections.