The Comment Problem (Old Style)
Comments are a tricky proposition for newspapers, which must be vigilant about their abuses. But as they struggle to hold on to readers and find ways to engage them, online comments have become a bright spot, helping them build new, stronger relationships with users.
The added comments keep readers on the Web sites longer and create engaged communities, which can turn into more money-making opportunities through increased advertising, said Steve Semelsberger, senior vice president and general manager of Pluck, the company that provides social-media tools to 250 newspapers, including USA Today, the Washington Post and The Chronicle.
He said comments can boost page views by 5 to 15 percent and can serve as a starting point for social-media interaction on a news site.
"Comments are both an offensive and defense move," he said. "You have to do it to be a relevant conversational Web property, and you can also make money off it."