NPR Ombudsman Points Enviously to New York Times

It's expensive to manage "All the Comments That Are Fit to Publish."

As we reported earlier today, NPR.org is doing away with reader comments Aug. 23. In a companion post to the Scott Montgomery announcement, NPR ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen makes this comparison:

Other organizations such as The New York Times manage to keep their comments relatively civil. But they use heavy in-house human moderation that costs far more than NPR currently spends on its outsourced system, according to NPR executives who are familiar with the numbers. The Times also opens only 10 percent of its articles for comments (but is working to increase that percentage), and keeps the comment threads open for just one week. NPR currently allows comments on all articles for two weeks.

The link Jensen parenthetically embedded above is the inaugural July 10 column by the paper’s new public editor Elizabeth Spayd, which was titled “Want to Attract More Readers? Try Listening to Them.” It’s an article well-worth reading or re-reading in the wake of NPR’s decision to end comments after eight years.

NPR may also have buried the lede with regards to this whole comments business. Because the site uses third-party platform Disqus (as does Adweek), when the adjustment is made next Tuesday, all existing NPR.org comments will disappear, as part of NPR’s disconnection from the Disqus platform. It’s a trick worthy of Keyser Söze in The Usual Suspects. It will be as if all those he’s, she’s and pseudonymous registered users never existed.

Shown: The headine for NYT’s most commented article yet. Published July 28.