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Readers’ Ombudsman: We have opened our stories for comments – and look forward to you joining the chat

We have carefully designed our new commenting forum to  make it a welcoming arena that encourages constructive, polite debate.
We have carefully designed our new commenting forum to make it a welcoming arena that encourages constructive, polite debate.

Our journalism, at its most effective best, is a conversation not a lecture.

It is powerful precisely because it harnesses the incredible energy of public debate on the issues that matter most to people’s everyday lives.

At the heart of all we do is a desire to inform, to entertain and to help, to seek the truth and campaign for change on behalf of our communities.

How can we do that unless we understand what people need to know, how they view the big issues of the day, what injustices they are suffering?

That has always been the case and is why, as a regional title, the Press and Journal is rooted in the places we cover, our journalists based in communities and always engaged and alert to what is happening around them.

It has also for generations been one of the roles of the letters page in our printed edition.

But of all the opportunities the internet has opened to build on that work, the ability to hold those conversations directly with far more people is among the most appealing.

That is why we are delighted to be introducing an exciting new commenting feature to the site.

Press and Journal comments system allows you to join the conversation

The sharper-eyed among you will have spotted some changes as we tried it out – tags appearing on articles to show there is an active conversation or the small bell symbol for notifications.

Others may have been among the very first to have joined these informed debates.

The great news is that we are now ready to invite more readers to engage with us and our journalists directly on a growing range of content.

It is very simple to secure your place in this conversation – you will find full details here about how to sign up and how to make the best of the tools the system has to offer.

For example, you can keep tabs on the chats, journalists and commenters that interest you most and show your approval – or otherwise – of what others have to say.

a graphic showing a notification on a phone
Our new forum will allow you to be part of the conversation on issues that matter to you.

We have also carefully designed the forum to help make it a welcoming arena that encourages constructive, polite debate.

Most of us enjoy a sensible and informed chat about important topics – the chance to hear and learn from a range of people with different opinions greatly benefits us collectively.

Readers have a wealth of personal insights, specialist knowledge and experience to share, all of which feed into the reporting that we do and help to forge positive change.

Maybe there is a question that you think an article should have addressed but hasn’t, another perspective on a story that needs to be explored.

Creating a welcoming comments area that allows people to speak freely

On some sites however, a vocal minority who rely on offensive, bullying, foul-mouthed ranting to push their agendas have made going “below the line” an unattractive idea.

The takeover of one of the world’s biggest social media platforms by the globe’s richest man has also thrown the spotlight back on the issue of just how “free” speech should be.

Billionaire Elon Musk has sparked concerns over online abuse as he seeks to take over Twitter and relax its rules on what can be posted. Photo by Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

Making the P&J somewhere you can rely on finding a better atmosphere – without stifling a robust debate in which people can freely speak their minds – has therefore been a big part of our planning.

We are confident that between our moderation tools and your good judgment, we can create something that bucks the trend and becomes an example for others to follow.

I look forward to finding out what you have to say – including no doubt about what I’ve written here!

Conversation

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