A new benefit for Gazette subscribers | Vince Bzdek

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Beginning March 21, the privilege of posting comments at the bottom of stories on our websites will be reserved for our subscribers as a benefit of their membership in our journalism community.

This change is in direct response to requests from those same subscribers, many of whom have complained to us about the level of conversation they sometimes must endure.

We believe firmly in listening to our audience, that journalism needs to be a two-way street of ideas and opinions and comments and letters to the editor. We get many of our best story ideas and tips from our readers, as well as constructive criticism that makes us better and more responsive. But as more and more disinformation and junk information floods the internet, we believe it is more important than ever for companies dedicated to local journalism to try to raise the level of discussion, separate the wheat from the chaff, even help foster civility in our exchanges with each other.

We want all the information on our sites to meet the highest standards it can, so that readers can come to the Gazette knowing they can find the best arguments and most reliable sources of information in the state of Colorado. This change is an effort to make the quality of the conversation around our journalism as rigorous as the journalism itself.

Nothing will change on Gazette stories we post to social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, where the conversation is not moderated by us but by those internet companies.

Our commenting system is operated by a company called Disqus, which requires a sign-in if you wish to participate and has software that helps filter out trolls, spammers, and obscene language. Our digital editors also monitor comments on our site, and sometimes will highlight particular apt comments on our stories. Reporters also have incorporated comments and reaction into their stories when appropriate.

Subscribers also will be able to choose whether they want to see comments on an individual story, simply by clicking a tab.

We continue to add premium features like this for our dedicated subscribers, including exclusive access to columnists such as Paul Klee and Woody Paige, and earlier access to some of our best journalism than the general public has. Subscribers also have the opportunity to sign up for a variety of newsletters that bring the latest on their favorite subjects directly to their inboxes, such as daily Sports updates, or Entertainment news, or coronavirus information.

At the end of the day, we believe that the better the dialogue, the better informed our reader-citizens will be. And the better informed reader-citizens are, the better our local government operates and the better our city functions … and thrives.