The Washington Post

Q&A: Why don’t more Post reporters respond to reader comments?

Thanks to those readers who have submitted questions for this week and also to our ongoing thread about issues with Post mobile content. You can submit your questions here or via Twitter with the hash tag #askthepost. We’ll continue to post interesting Q&As throughout the week.

Q: Why don’t more Post reporters respond to reader comments on their articles and blog posts?

Why won’t the reporters reply to readers who leave comments at their blog posts? With rare exceptions, most don’t (pick spots at random and you’ll see). Is there a policy limiting them? Or some don’t want to? Just being busy may not explain the mass silence.

Granted, there are plenty of trolls polluting comments that don’t deserve attention, but there are legitimate questions and thoughts needing attention, including chances for reporters to add more thoughts. I’d bet if reporters engaged their audiences page hits would go up too. Times have changed and audience participation is now a part of online journalism, so how will WaPo reporters and editors deal with this? Thanks.

A: From Jon DeNunzio, user engagement editor:

We have just started to recruit more Post journalists to post in article and blog comment threads.

Why? Because we agree with you — readers pose legitimate questions and participate in interesting debates in the comments, and those threads offer reporters, bloggers, columnists and editors an opportunity to elaborate on their work and the ideas behind it.

We’ve started modestly, trying to get reporters into a couple threads per day, but we expect that number will rise soon. We’re looking for good questions and active discussions in the comments and trying to point staffers to those threads. We’re also encouraging staffers to do the same — and if you, as a reader, see a thread that could benefit from Post staff interaction, shoot us an e-mail at

Here are some of the comment threads Post staffers have participated in over the past several days:

- Steve Jobs and the idea of letting go (Hank Stuever)

- Do programs that pay people to lose weight really work? (Lenny Bernstein)

- Russia, China veto Syria resolution at the United Nations (Colum Lynch)


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