Cleveland.com Strikes Back
Updated: Feb 15
When OregonLive launched more than 20 years ago, it was built around reader conversations with some news, sports and entertainment sprinkled in. Over time, we have evolved into a real-time digital news organization, and reader conversations shifted from forums to comments, and more recently to social media, and text messaging and events that bring people together for thoughtful give and take. Conversations happen daily on our Facebook pages, and we answer reader questions.
In light of these business and societal changes, we’ve decided to eliminate website comments, as have many other news sites over the past decade. This change will occur at 6 a.m. Jan. 2.
Some people will be unhappy with this decision and others will celebrate. It’s important to note that very few people contribute the vast majority of comments on the site. Most readers never comment or read the comments. In fact, across our company’s websites, which serve 50 million unique visitors in an average month, just 2,340 people produce more than half of the comments. Just 3 percent of visitors to OregonLive read the comments over a three-month period last summer. A tiny fraction of visitors ever posts a comment.
The ability to comment on stories dates back more than a decade, well before the explosive growth of social media and before newsrooms were accessible through many other means.
And let’s be frank: Some of these conversations are uncivil, even downright nasty at times. Moderating the comments for off-topic posts or personal attacks takes time and resources that are better spent producing independent local news.
This change does not mean we care less about hearing and sharing the diversity of voices across Oregon. That’s why our journalists are active on social media and why we are always looking for new ways to engage people in this community in discussion and debate.
But the change does reflect our desire to do this work better, and it’s driven by a recognition that website comments have been replaced by better, more constructive spaces for meaningful engagement. -The Oregonian/OregonLive
Now, the Oregonian is owned by a company called Advance Local. The layout of cleveland.com is very similar to the Oregonian and, lo and behold, cleveland.com is also owned by a company called Advance Local. (Even though I believe the company has different regional titles.)
So I saw someone at cleveland.com pointing out the Oregonian link and I made a short comment, and was banned yet again.
Now all I did was speculate on cleveland.com's business model. I don't think that's unfair.
The Oregonian claims that the money they save from paying Viafoura to moderate comments will be re-invested into local coverage.
I am skeptical.
Look for cleveland.com to follow the same model as the Oregonian soon. Because your local paper's business model isn't about free speech, it's about cash.
Two days after this article posted, the USA Today joined multiple other national publications in eliminating the comments section.