Arizona Republic Website Comments A Model of Incivility

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.

4 thoughts on “Arizona Republic Website Comments A Model of Incivility”

  1. Comments on another story published the other day blew my mind ( The article was about a group of kids treated for heat exhaustion while painting the A on A mountain. It only took six comments before someone broke the seal and started the flood of anti-immigration talk, blaming illegal aliens for the kids heat exhaustion, because the kids should have been at their jobs instead of participating in a annual tradition of the school, but all the jobs were taken by illegal aliens… hence the reason these kids were on the mountain and unemployed.

    One of my duties at my job is to moderate comments. We review toys, a seemingly innocent profession, and yet every morning, I spend an hour combing through the most vile, hateful comments left on our posts and videos.

    Comments on the Internet have made me lose much faith in society. The only solace I come by is hoping that these people spend so much of their time leaving nasty remarks on the Internet, that they don’t have enough time to venture out into the real world and spread their hate there.

  2. This article from has an interesting take on something many news organizations are using in an attempt to manage these issues (which apparently aren’t necessarily limited to AZCentral, the Arizona Republic’s website): Facebook commenting.

    Do you think Facebook comments are the solution to this issue, and if so, why do you allow anonymous commenting on this blog?

    1. I think it’s a terrible idea to turn over commenting to Facebook, a company that is probably the biggest threat to the future of newspapers. I allow pseudonymous comments here but require a working email address, and I’m not shy about telling people to stop it when they troll or otherwise misbehave; and I’ve banned several people.

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