I have read 301 comments posted in response to my Sunday column about our new commenting system. And the number keeps rising, which I consider a good sign. Reader engagement remains a key ingredient for any newspaper and its website.
Many of the comments are thoughtful, argumentative, informative, satirical and very critical. I'm OK with that. In fact, I appreciate the blunt feedback.
Colleague Mike McGarr did an excellent job last night, in my view, of responding to quite a number of comments in helpful ways. He was doing that, by the way, along with his other duties of editing stories, writing headlines, reading page proofs and updating breaking news stories.
Several of the commenters suggested we recruit volunteer moderators or hire someone to just monitor the comments. My experience in business and in life is that you get what you pay for, so I am not inclined to recruit volunteers to monitor our comments 24/7. As for paying someone new to do it, that's part of the issue. If I had money in the newsroom budget, I would want to use it to hire another reporter to help us gather more news and information.
Our new comments policy goes into effect today. Please give it some time to play out. In the meantime, I intend to move my part of the conversation to this blog, where I can more easily post what we're learning about our new system. I also believe writing about the comments in a blog format will make it easier for readers to offer us new thoughts on what we're doing.