NY Times opens more stories to comments

The New York Times could be the next online newspaper to open up its stories, en masse, to reader comments.

In the last few months the Washington Post, Times Online and USA Today have each added reader feedback features to their regular news stories, while the likes of My Sun and My Telegraph offer similar functions.

Now America’s famous Gray Lady could join the list.

“We are working to expand our ability to handle readers’ comments,” said New York Times digital news editor Jim Roberts, responding to readers’ questions.

“Right now, each of our blogs accepts comments, and on many days we solicit comments on our home page that relate to subjects in the news or that relate to topical feature articles.

“But, very soon, we will be extending that invitation to many more news articles.”

Where once reader interaction was confined to special “interactive” sections or weblogs, now many publishers are giving audiences more of a space to have a say in the core product – news stories.

Many systems, including that operated by BBC News’ Have Your Say, ask readers to identify and report abusive comments. The Times operates a strict code outlawing profanity, impersonation and other practices – and expects its staff will continue to moderate incoming comments.

“We have considered trying software that filters profanity or doing what other sites do and allowing readers to flag objectionable comments,” Robert wrote.

“But so far we have not found anything that substitutes for having trained editors or news assistants read each one to make sure it is suitable for publication.”