The pandemic has brought out the best of people in many ways. Over the past 18 months, we’ve been heartened to share many of those stories on BarrieToday.
But as the coronavirus domination drags on, it's taking a toll in many different ways.
Unfortunately, it seems to have robbed many people of their common sense and human decency. And, sadly, that is all too often reflected in the hurtful comments — often under cowardly usernames — below our stories.
Many have nothing of value to say, but keep saying it over and over again anyway, often at length and in typically hurtful and hateful language.
We are all weary of ignorant ramblings, racism and thinly (and not-so-thinly) veiled threats of violence.
That has now ended. We will no longer be a platform for toxicity, wild conspiracy theorists and disinformation.
This is not an easy decision, because we strive to present a variety of viewpoints and want to provide a place — a virtual watercooler, if you will — where people can safely discuss the matters of the moment and provide insight on the news.
But, try as we might, this is no longer a safe place.
We have spent countless hours trying to moderate the growing number of comments and do our best to filter out slurs and accusations of all sorts. However, many are just smart enough to find their way around such rules.
While the comments sections are now gone, in their place at the bottom of our stories you will find a new feedback option that prompts readers to ‘Add to the Story.’
It allows our readers to enter a thoughtful response to the story you have just read. Submissions will be reviewed by our newsroom staff and a selection will be posted as part of a weekly roundup of reader feedback.
But we will not publish prejudice or cheap shots, and will not provide a platform for childish name-calling or trolling. So, don’t waste your time.
Of course, if you really want to weigh in on a local matter, feel free to do what readers have done for hundreds of years — write a letter to the editor! As has been our policy since Day 1, we will only publish letters from real people with real names and whose identities we’ve confirmed via phone prior to publication. No usernames, no pseudonyms.
Frankly, it’s a sad commentary that we must take this step, but we believe it is the right one.
Our hope is that it also serves another purpose, by allowing us to get on with what should be our top priority, which is informing you on the critical issues that face our community.
Raymond Bowe is the editor at BarrieToday and Dave Dawson is the regional editor.