Remainers Righting The Balance On Reader Comments

Reader comments, sometimes known as ‘below the line’ comments, give people the chance to air their views on the story on a newspaper website. Most newspapers, even local ones, have them.

The Daily Express and the Daily Mail came up tops as the newspapers most promoting hate against migrants, Remainers, judges and now, academics.

Report on EU Referendum press coverage

This protest idea is very simple and costs nothing. Just register for reader comments on newspaper(s) of your choice, nationally and/or locally, preferably using a username rather than your own name. Something ordinary is fine eg BenjysMum, PortsmouthDad, Scott44. It’s best NOT to use something pro-EU or pro-Remain.

As standard security, make up a password for the website(s) which you don’t use elsewhere.

If you have the time, you can flick through the news stories and letters online and respond. You could do this on a regular commute, for example. If you have less time, just wait until you see a story on your Twitter or Facebook timeline, from a newspaper which you’ve registered with.

Or you could have sessions as part of a Remain group, where you combine reader comments with petitions, crowdfunds, emails or letters to MPs, Government departments and Maybot.

Some people will say that if Remainers use reader comments, we are upping traffic on the websites. Doing nothing however, reinforces in their brains, the idea that everyone agrees with them.

You can choose to focus on the more pro-Remain newspapers like The Guardian, Daily Mirror and Metro to ward off Leavers, who are more than happy to bring their Express and Mail opinions to the Guardian. 

Or you could concentrate on below the line comments in your local and regional newspapers, eg South London Press, Basingstoke Gazette, Manchester Evening News or Yorkshire Post. 

The really important thing is to read the piece and respond to that with opinions based on facts. Don’t put links to other newspapers though, because the comment is likely to be removed.

If you feel comfortable doing it behind an anonymous username, use bits of your story eg prices going up, worry, bullying online and in real life by Leavers, fewer euros to the pound, bad service on holiday, uncertainty if an EU citizen – whatever affects you.

Some of the Leavers on these forums rant. Their Brexit isn’t going well and they are frustrated. Be careful not to get drawn into their rants, as slanging matches with Leavers does nothing for the Remain cause. Certainly, you shouldn’t ever make any kind of threat.

If you see abuse happening, please flag or report (whatever the system is). If it’s directed against you and serious abuse of the threatening or racist/xenophobic type, please screenshot if possible and report it to IPSO and if it’s that bad, report to the police also via 101 or online.

Don’t be alarmed, there is less chance of vile abuse via UK newspaper reader comments than there used to be. Comments are often pre-moderated now.

It is worth doing, because many of the tabloid readers can’t be reached by social media. There are many more lurkers too, reading but not responding.

This is the reason to do it, to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of Leavers who aren’t blustering, the people who are worrying silently, that the choice they made is the wrong one.

Copyright 2016 Théroigne S B G Russell