Times editors are apparently tired of people saying mean things about Emily Gould and about their own decision to publish her meditation on blogging, because they've shut down the comments section attached to Gould's magazine piece. Some 727 responses flooded in before the shutdown, even though the article won't be physically published until the Sunday issue. Many called the former Gawker editor narcissistic, self-indulgent and a bad writer and said her story was a waste of space; there were supporters, including people who praised Gould for having moved on from vicious, inconsequential Gawker and for pushing them to reexamine their own online personas. Whatever was said, the decision to shut down comments is bizarre, because just yesterday Times Magazine editor Gerry Marzorati told FishbowlNY the story was worthy of his cover precisely because of the discussion it would spark:
How the Internet is re-describing how we understand privacy, intimacy and personal history is, I think... a [lifestyle] issue, and the fact that the story — an 8,000-word story — has already, in 6 ours or so, attracted more than 600 comments (most of them having nothing to do with why we published the piece as a cover story) leads me to believe a lot of folks agree.
In other words, generating a lot of noise is a journalistic end unto itself. Or at least proof of merit. That's such a forward-thinking, blog-ish way to think. Gawker-esque, some might say. But now, barring some kind of technical concern, the paper seems to be having second thoughts, because the internet can be cruel. Given the subject of Gould's piece, that's very meta.
Of course, as Gould is surely aware, shutting down comments isn't going to stop the invective; it's just going to push it onto email, personal blogs, Twitters and even instant messaging status updates: