St. Louis Public Radio has had a comment section for as long as we’ve had a website. We hoped comments would be a place for our audience to discuss articles with each other while providing valuable feedback to our newsroom.
However, it’s not living up to that promise, so we have decided to pull the plug.
For starters, the proportion of people who use our comments section is a sliver of the number of people who visit our website. We’ve more than doubled our website traffic over the past five years, but comments come from only a few dozen people — and it’s usually the same few dozen.
There are plenty of alternatives that are much more engaging than a comments section. For example, we use Facebook to talk directly with followers about stories and issues on our main page, in events pages, through Facebook Messenger, in closed groups. (If you are a political junkie, I highly encourage you to join The Political Party, a Facebook group where people talk about local, state and national political stories.)
If Facebook isn’t your thing, all of our journalists are on Twitter, where they are actively tweeting about what they’re reading, what they’re observing, and, sometimes, how their favorite sports teams are doing. At the end of every online article (including this one), our reporters include their Twitter handle so you can follow and engage with them in that space. We’re also on Instagram, and you can always send us a direct message or reply to one of our stories.
We know social media isn’t for everyone, of course. So we have a new option for you when you want to let us know what you think about our work. Every article we publish will remind you that you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The emails will go directly to our engagement team, who will answer questions and share with the rest of the newsroom.
Have a comment just for our daily talk show, St. Louis on the Air? Join the Facebook group, or call and leave a voicemail. Just dial 314-516-6397 and tell us your name, where you’re calling from and your question. Or send your thoughts by email, to email@example.com.
If you have a question that you want a reporter to investigate, you can always ask Curious Louis. Our listeners have submitted excellent questions, such as: “What happens to the used baseballs at Busch Stadium?” and “How did Dogtown get its name?” Just submit your question, and we’ll get in touch with you if we find an answer.
Finally, if you really want to engage, then our in-person events are the best way to do that.
Follow Shula on Twitter: @shuneu
Send questions and comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org