What does KPBS philanthropist Irwin Jacobs have to say about the station’s decision to eliminate website comments? Perhaps “no comment.”
San Diego State University’s KPBS broadcasting operation is suddenly slamming the door on website comments, some of which have questioned the political direction of the station whose newsroom is named after billionaire Democrat contributor Irwin Jacobs. “It’s time for us to move the conversation away from the website comments section, where only 0.3 percent of our online visitors engage,” says an April 7 announcement by the stations. “Since KPBS first launched its online comments section in 2009, the world of social media has changed dramatically, as has KPBS’ digital presence. In this spirit, we will continue to create the best dialogue with you in the hopes of deepening our relationship.”
The school suggests that its opinionated viewers migrate to Twitter and Facebook. “In addition to our station’s social media accounts, you can engage with our news gathering by joining ‘KPBS Become a Source,’ where we reach out to those who sign up for story input and sometimes interviews.” If that doesn’t satisfy commenters’ wishes for self-expression, “KPBS journalists regularly use their personal channels to discuss their work. You can find their Twitter handles on the KPBS Staff Page.”
As the university has encountered multiple controversies — including the future of SDSU football at Qualcomm Stadium and a series of sexual molestation cases — managers led by Tom Karlo, with an annual state-funded salary and benefit package worth $309,883, have been hard pressed to answer online critics of the stations’ uneven news coverage. Other unflattering developments — including a California State University system audit last year critical of exiting SDSU president’s Elliot Hirshman’s handling of the university’s fundraising and charitable spending as well as illegal faculty discounts — have been ignored by KPBS altogether.