How reader comments bond back then
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In a recent interview with late night TV host James Corden, singer-songwriter Lorde described how a voluntary social media hiatus prompted her to find company in a popular New York Times commentary section.
“The first time I wasn’t on social media I was so cranky, I felt so disconnected,” she said. But now his social network is the NYT kitchen application. “I go on and look at the comments,” she added. “It has become a source of community for me.”
Helping readers find that sense of connection is part of my job. As the Times Community Manager, overseeing the team that moderates reader comments on nytimes.com, I look for ways to strengthen our relationship with readers. Our team highlights reader responses to stories when we can, and gives Times reporters insight into how their work can meet the needs and interests of our readers.
The best part of my job is seeing our journalism reach out to readers on a personal level, inspiring them to share their perspectives. Their daily experiences add valuable context and clarity to our reports.
For example, in Claire Cain Miller’s article on how the pandemic created a child care crisis that disproportionately affected mothers, we asked them to tell us their story of leaving the workforce. or reduce their staff. The responses were deeply moving.
“I had to cut back on my hours to help my daughters overcome the overwhelming challenges of distance education. I feel like the last decade of struggle and progress has been derailed, and the professional goals I once set for myself are not worth pursuing until my kids are out of the house. . It’s like building armor after being heartbroken, ”wrote Alexis Lohse of St. Paul, Minn.
Part of our mission at The Times is to help people understand the world. Our commentators help us achieve this goal. Comments are one of the most used features of the Times website and app, and over 80% are written by subscribers. Almost one in 10 subscribers read the comments every week.
Some of our best comment sections are delicious and surprising. Remember Jerry Seinfeld’s Opinion essay refuting a claim that New York City was “forever dead” from the coronavirus? One of the best things about the play was the comments. A veteran cab driver who wrote as Old Yeller wrote about his favorite moments at work.
“My favorite type of ride is the rare one to pick up a man who has just been released from a hospital after the birth of his first child,” he wrote. “It’s the happiest day of his life and I usually have a hard time hiding my own tears of joy as he tells me everything.”
This response has gone viral on social media and has prompted hundreds of readers to share their own love letters to New York City and the painful times that put their bonds to the test.
Reader feedback also plays an important role in the development of our reports. In a recent article on the closure of US borders with European countries, dozens of commentators lamented separation from loved ones, unsure of when they will be reunited. “I am fully vaccinated and from the UK I haven’t seen my US partner for 18 months,” wrote Millie from London. Another commentator, Kevin from Germany wrote about his partner: “She is vaccinated. I am vaccinated. What more can we do? I just want to finally give her a hug.
The outpouring forced our reporter Nicholas Casey to write a follow-up article highlighting how the ban has, for some European families, compounded one of the pandemic’s deepest heartaches – the separation itself.
Our comment sections provide an outlet to engage in debate and discussion in a fully moderated space, and provide readers with the opportunity to hear from others who have unique experiences related to the article.
Last year, a dentist wrote that he had seen a slight increase in the number of people with cracked teeth. The comments section was both revealing and painful, filled with readers who identified themselves as dentists and patients sharing anecdotes and solutions for grinding teeth.
“These are some of the best recommendations for dealing with Covid stress that I have read anywhere,” wrote one reader.
One of the first steps in building a strong and engaged community is to recognize their contributions and amplify the voice of readers.
Shortly after Andrew M. Cuomo resigned as governor of New York, commentators were quick to unbox his dramatic downfall. The reactions have been mixed. Some spoke of the need for more women in positions of power, while others saw her downfall as a step towards empowering powerful men. Others praised his tenure, especially during the devastating first wave of the pandemic in New York City.
I asked a handful of reviewers for permission to highlight their words on our homepage and worked with our designers to make the comments visible. Highlighting some of these personal reactions completed our reporting and compelled other readers to join the conversation.
So what’s next for our community experience?
We will continue to focus on integrating feedback into the heart of the reading experience and finding opportunities to invite diverse perspectives. It helps us to develop lasting relationships with our readers.
And we will continue to look for ways to involve our reporters more in the comment sections. You may even hear from a reporter interested in following up with you.
In the meantime, we would love to hear from you in the comments. Tell us what you like and what we can improve.
And to those who are already contributing to these valuable discussions through the site, thank you for building our communities and improving our journalism.