The Mirror

St. Louis Paper Shuts Down Comment Section

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is taking a unique approach to free speech and journalism.

They’re shutting down their comment section on all editorials, columns and letters for two months.

How come?

“Ferguson,” the editorial board wrote in an explanation Monday morning.

They reason that when they recently tried to have a reasonable discussion on Ferguson, it all devolved into “vile racist comments” and “shouting” (online shouting?) and “personal attacks.” (Hey, welcome to Twitter on a daily basis.)

They bring up “the nasty effect,” an actual University of Wisconsin-Madison coined phrase for the effect that “certain comments” can have on “a reader’s understanding.”

They write that comments can be both good and bad.

“There are positive moments, such as when readers last week left touching tributes in comments about sports columnist Bryan Burwell after he lost his battle with cancer. But there are other instances where comments deteriorate into racist remarks or demeaning discussion that has nothing to do with the original story or editorial or column.” 

In other words, comments are only for people who have touching, positive things to say. WTF. Really?

To answer that beef, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch insists they welcome letters that disagree with the publication. They say comments may one day return to the opinion pages. For now, they’ll stick to weekly online chats, letters and social media — just so long as they’re uplifting and full of warm fuzzies, puppies, babies and cupcakes, right?

In the meantime, you can write Editorial Page Editor Tony Messenger at Please don’t forget to cc or bcc me at

They write cheerily, “Let’s give civility a try.”