Comments start pulling their weight

“Audiences are hungry for trusted news and debate outside the walled gardens of the big echo-chamber platforms.”

2017 will be the year news comments finally start pulling their weight.

aja-bogdanoffThe recent wave of news sites nixing comments illustrates the complicated relationship most organizations have with comment sections. By turning comments off, publishers deliberately turn away the same “active users” that make social platforms like Facebook so valuable to advertisers.

And it’s no surprise, given the terrible choice publishers face in managing their comments. Either commit significant resources to heavy-handed round-the-clock police work, or stand back and watch the space below articles become a festering hellhole of harassment, spam, and abuse. Few organizations have the bandwidth to figure out how to get people to improve their behavior online.

But audiences are hungry for trusted news and debate outside the walled gardens of the big echo-chamber platforms, and advertisers are increasingly anxious about feeding Facebook’s monopoly on customer access and attention. Media organizations are the natural and traditional bridge between the two, despite the chaos brought on by the sudden migration to digital.

When you figure out how to improve comment sections without taking resources away from the newsroom, new opportunities open up. In the next year, armed with a new set of behavior-modifying platform tools, publishers will finally turn their comment sections into valuable assets, into the foundation of their response to Facebook’s incursions. Peel back the layers of abuse, and you’re left with an incredible combination: trusted, high-quality news content combined with real, active social networks, on the same page, under the same roof.

By this time next year, we’ll be wondering how news sites ever survived without comments.

Aja Bogdanoff is cofounder and CEO at Civil, makers of Civil Comments.

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Anita Zielina   The sales funnel reaches (and changes) the newsroom

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Errin Haines   Chaos or community?

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Mario García   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

Richard J. Tofel   The country doesn’t trust us — but they do believe us

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Nushin Rashidian   A rise in high-price, high-value subscriptions

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Trushar Barot   API or die

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Lam Thuy Vo   The primary source in the age of mechanical multiplication

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   News after advertising may look like news before advertising

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Maria Bustillos   “It’s true — I saw it on Facebook”

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Earn trust by working for (and with) readers

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Tressie McMillan Cottom   A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy