A farewell to comments

Oct 30, 2019

There was a time when Facebook was a place for college students and recent grads to share with friends. A time when most Wareham residents probably thought a “Twitter feed” had something to do with scattering seed for songbirds. A time when this then-politically-polarized town needed a neutral online space to discuss issues and comment on town happenings.

Thus, when Wareham Week and its accompanying website were launched in January of 2010, that website included an easy-to-use function for readers to comment on stories, comment on others’ comments and even begin discussion of a topic without waiting for it to be raised by a staff writer.

I used this space to encourage readers to sign up and “join the conversation.” Many of you joined. The conversation grew to include hundreds of readers of all ages and political persuasions. 

Sure, the robust debate needed some watching for the occasional commenter who stepped over the line. Staffers would periodically jump into the conversation to remind folks to keep it civil and on topic. But, by and large, participants produced a lively, useful forum for the many other residents who came to our site to read what other citizens had written.

It was the kind of forum we had hoped to create. Now it is a function that has outlived its useful life.

As of today, we have eliminated the ability to comment on stories on WarehamWeekToday.com.

In 2019, Wareham has multiple social media forums on which issues are discussed. Our commenters have dwindled to at most a couple dozen people who are not representative of the broad swath of Wareham residents.

And, in a challenging world for journalism – both economically and politically – we need to rededicate ourselves to covering the news fully, fairly, factually and with an element of fun where warranted.

Wareham Week employs two full-time journalists. While that is at least double what any other news outlet offers this town, it’s not a lot of personpower spread across everything that happens here. Staffers don’t need to be devoting time to deciding whether a specific comment made by one of a small group of commenters is inappropriate (take it down) or just snarky (leave it up).

We continue to invite signed letters to the editor, written or emailed news tips (signed or anonymous), phoned-in or emailed or written comments on anything we write. (Criticism is welcome. It keeps us on our toes.) I can be reached at anne@warehamweek.com, Editor Chloe Shelford at editor@warehamweek.com, reporter Nadya Korytnikova at reporter@warehamweek.com or any of us at 508-322-7157. We still want to hear from you!