A good indication of the type and level of discourse on the Arizona Republic (Phoenix-area newspaper, largest in the state) website is found in the comments on a story about a dust storm rolling through the metro area as I write this. (I’m at the airport awaiting a flight, which I still hope will happen though they’ve closed operations at least temporarily.)
The story is about the dust storm, of course. But check out the comments, which start off stupid and get worse. You won’t be surprised that extreme politics — this is Arizona — enter the mix in a big way.
The Republic’s comment threads are often like this — and it’s obvious that the paper doesn’t much care, or else is too busy and resource-hungry to do anything about it. But it’s a perfect example of the wasteland in American newspaper “conversation” online, and another reason why people gravitate to places where intelligent and moderated conversations take place.