At National Journal, we believe that public service is a noble calling; that ideas matter; and that trustworthy information about politics and policy will lead to wiser decisions in the national interest. Those principles are reflected in everything we do — from the stories we write, to the events we produce, to the research and insights we offer our members.
But there’s one place where those principles don’t seem to hold: in the comments that appear at the end of our Web stories. For every smart argument, there’s a round of ad hominem attacks — not just fierce partisan feuding, but the worst kind of abusive, racist, and sexist name-calling imaginable.
The debate isn’t joined. It’s cheapened, it’s debased, and, as National Journal’s Brian Resnick has written, research suggests that the experience leaves readers feeling more polarized and less willing to listen to opposing views.
The problem isn’t unique to National Journal; it crops up on almost every news site.
Some sites have responded by devoting substantial time and effort to monitoring and editing comments, but we’d rather put our resources into the journalism that brings readers to National Journal in the first place. So, today we’ll join the growing number of sites that are choosing to forgo public comments on most stories.
We think there are better ways to foster the dialogue we all want. We’re going to start by leaving the comment sections open and visible to National Journal‘s members, a group that’s highly unlikely to live by Godwin’s Law. Our reporters and editors will remain extremely active and accessible on Twitter, where the discourse is abbreviated but usually civil. You’ll find their Twitter handles at the top of every story on National Journal — as well as links to their email addresses if you’d like to engage with them directly. We welcome opposing viewpoints and letters to the editor: Email those to email@example.com. And you can always write to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From time to time, we’ll open the comment sections on specific stories — stories that are likely to provoke reasoned debate, or stories where the unique perspectives and ideas and suggestions of individual readers can add immeasurably to our journalism.
And we’re going to leave the comment section open on this piece: We’d like to hear your thoughts on our new policy and your ideas on how to improve the dialogue, not just at National Journal but across the nation as well.
What We're Following See More »
Hillary Clinton may have the Democratic nomination sewn up, but Bernie Sanders apparently isn't buying it. Buoyed by a poll showing them in a "virtual tie," Sanders is "holding three rallies on the final day before the state primary and hoping to pull off a win after a tough week of election losses and campaign layoffs."
As unbound delegates pledged to Ted Cruz watch him "struggle to tread water in a primary increasingly dominated by Trump, many of them, wary of a bitter convention battle that could rend the party at its seams, are rethinking their commitment to the Texas senator."
"The confrontation between debt-swamped Puerto Rico and its creditors is intensifying as the U.S. territory will default on payments due Monday, deepening the island's financial crisis and placing additional pressure on Congress to intervene." The amount of the default is estimated at $422 million.
Nikki Haley. Jeb Bush. Scott Walker. Lindsey Graham. John Kasich. The list is growing ever longer of Republicans who say they wouldn't even consider becoming Donald Trump's running mate. "The recoiling amounts to a rare rebuke for a front-runner: Politicians usually signal that they are not interested politely through back channels, or submit to the selection process, if only to burnish their national profiles."