If you scroll to the bottom of any story included in Cleveland.com’s coverage of the non-indictment of Tamir Rice’s police officer killers, you’ll find a couple of unexpected features: a solid blank space instead of a comment box, and a short explanation of why.
In a column posted in late November by Chris Quinn, whose role is listed as the “Vice President of Content” for the northeast Ohio media group, Quinn explained the website’s decision:
Passions are strong, and because our comments section could provide a place for venting, we allowed comments on Tamir stories for months. We enlisted a small army on our staff to monitor the comments and delete any that violated our standards...The trouble was that we couldn’t keep up. Just about every piece we published about Tamir immediately became a cesspool of hateful, inflammatory or hostile comments. Rather than discuss the facts of the case, many commenters debased the conversation with racist invective.
With comments still up on Cleveland.com’s editorial calling for peaceful protests, it’s still possible to catch a glimpse of what moved the website’s editors to shut down the comments section.
Correction: A previous version of this post implied that Cleveland.com had disabled comments on Tamir Rice stories on Monday. In fact, comments have been disabled since late November