Globe public editor: A look at why comments are closed on some Rob Ford stories

 By Sylvia Stead, public editor of The Globe and Mail

 By Sylvia Stead, public editor of The Globe and Mail

I hope you have seen the article on the ongoing improvements to the commenting system on It’s important to repeat that this process is ongoing – but these improvements are a good step.

On Friday at 2 p.m. ET, senior communities editor Jennifer MacMillan and I will answer questions on these changes. But before that, I thought I would answer a few questions about stories that have been closed to comments. Most readers understand that stories about ongoing court cases or criminal charges must be closed for legal reasons. They also understand that at times, comments are open and then closed because they attract too many abusive comments, personal attacks or hate speech, contrary to The Globe’s stated guidelines.

But a few wondered why comments were closed on the story about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s recent trip to the Taste of the Danforth food festival, after drinking “a few beers,” according to his brother Doug.

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Another wondered why so many stories about the Mayor have comments closed. “ I understand that the Mayor is a polarizing figure who attracts negative comments but as (Globe columnist Marcus) Gee wisely points out, he is the author of most of his misfortunes. He is also the Mayor of Toronto and his actions should properly be the subject of comment and public discussion.”

Executive Editor Jill Borra said that “editors have been instructed to leave comments open on stories that involve municipal politics or city issues, but to close comments on stories involving his legal issues or allegations of drug use and/or a video of him using crack. 

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