NY Times Science section suppressing discussion?

What’s gone wrong with the New York Times Science section?

One of my dad’s favorite things in life was sitting down on Tuesdays with the New York Times Science Section and a cup of coffee. It was a true pleasure and one that I have inherited from him, although now I mostly read it online. He and I would often discuss the articles and trade opinions on them.

I lost my dad 3 years ago and I miss our connection through the NY Times Science articles.

However, I still really enjoy the articles on science in the NY Times not only on Tuesdays, but also just more generally. One of the advantages of online articles is that readers can make comments and discuss the science, the way my dad and I did.

NY Times ScienceHowever, more recently I’ve been noticing a concerning trend in the articles in the NY Times Science section.

It seems more and more, the science articles in the NY Times do not permit any commenting at all (see graphic above).

One of the most valuable and interesting aspects of the science articles in the NY Times, at least to me, is reading reader comments and exchanges. Yet paradoxically, comments are not allowed on the vast majority of NY Times science articles anymore. Some days no science articles allow comments at all.

What the heck?

So you might ask is this simply reflective of a larger trend at the NY Times not to allow commenting on their online articles?

It doesn’t seem to be the case.

For example, today, of the top 10 emailed Science articles in the NY Times, only 2 (at the #8 and #10 positions in ranking) allow comments. The 8 others prohibit commenting.

In contrast, of the top 10 overall articles in the NY Times, most allow comments.

That the Science section specifically would block discussion is very perplexing and negative as discussion is so integral to science and so valuable.

So what is going on?

It seems there are a few likely possibilities.

  • First, the NY Times moderates its comments and that costs money. By not allowing commenting at all on most Science articles, perhaps they are saving money?
  • Second, sometimes the comments on science articles are controversial?
  • Third, something else?

Whatever the motivation, I hope they reverse this wrongheaded trend. They do have a section more generally to answer readers’ questions on their comment policy, but none of the 15 Qs & As address the question “Why do you not allow commenting on certain articles?”

If you want to contact the Science section editor to voice your opinion on this worrisome trend here’s the info:

[email protected]nytimes.com

I just emailed voicing my concern about the blocking of comments.  Here’s what I wrote:

Hi,

Why do you no longer allow readers to comment on the vast majority of your science articles?

This seems paradoxical given that more generally you allow comments on most of the most popular NY Times articles and for science discussion is so valuable, yet you are blocking that.

What’s going on? Could you please consider changing this policy?

Thanks

Paul

Let’s see if they respond.

1 Comment


  1. Paul, Let us know how you do with the NYT.
    I wrote them a while back when I thought they were leaning to the left of center on political views and not giving the current POTUS a fair shake. 😉 I am still waiting for an answer.

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