Thread Control: Lessons from USA Today

The newspaper's unfiltered use of reader comments underscores the challenges of widening the online dialogue without offending readers

When USA Today's staff redesigned the online arm of the national newspaper, they included plenty of space for ordinary readers to "join the conversation." The site, owned by Gannett (GCI), has to compete with an array of news sources on the new, you-oriented Web—where bloggers break news, enthusiasts write encyclopedias, and readers can determine which articles get top billing. In such a world, explains USA Today Executive Editor Kinsey Wilson, reader comments "augment people's understanding of the news."

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