Gawker reopens a debate many newsrooms have spent countless hours agonizing: Just how valuable is reader-added commentary on content?
It takes a pretty anecdotal run at the situation and determines that newspapers shouldn't bother. The argument: People aren't all that helpful and often quite harmful.
We've had a long, hard look at this issue at The Vancouver Sun and decided that, with some entreaties to keep the comments clean and non-personal, there's much more benefit than not in opening our journalism to discussion.
A newsroom depends on the public for tips and already the online discussions have yielded plenty of those. They're helping some of our reporting in adding some expertise (although we'd love more and have some ideas about that). And they provide some very useful opportunities to reverse-publish content.
The critical question there (and on this blog here, for that matter) is how to engage with the commentators. The more open you are about processes, the more helpful. The more light you shed on decision-making, the better.