I guess one thought that came to mind after a quick reading of the article, the U.S. 2020 election was described as a particularly bitterly divisive election amongst political commentators. So it is perhaps unsurprising to me that the difficulty in moderating the discussion was evident in online communities as well.
Part of the media ecosystem in the U.S. was attributed, by some commentators and journalists, in contributing to making it difficult for people to discuss differing viewpoints with each other, because of echo chambers telling people what they want to hear and reinforcing their viewpoint (not just the Murdoch-owned Fox News on the right, but also MSNBC and, I think, NBC and others on the left, for example. Though I have to say that Fox, like Murdoch outlets elsewhere, is regarded as particularly egregious when it comes to blending news reporting and editorial opinion)
(This is one specific part media-wise that I am bringing up in the context of this discussion — there are other large factors which commentators say contributed to the divisiveness, including candidates.)
On moderating political discussions in general though, one place where I do usually enjoy watching these is on panels and interviews etc. on a national public broadcaster (which is mostly the ABC in Australia for comprehensive political coverage) These programs can yield a lot of depth and nuance on people’s various positions on particular issues, and do it very comprehensively.
The thing is, people are specifically invited to these panels, and usually they have practised articulating their viewpoints, and the moderators are experienced with moderating debate and holding people to account on their points.
So back to this question
I don’t really know what lessons, in particular, can be learnt from more established political media outlets (television and newspapers) for online communities looking to foster nuanced discussion, at least on political topics. But perhaps it is worth noting that this is something that existing media has been able to foster and present pretty effectively, in certain cases.
Letters to the editor are from the community, but are curated, for example. I notice that currently online comments of some news sites (e.g. I have seen on NYTimes and The Guardian at least) have curated comments which are fairly constructive, and can provide interesting takes on a topic which are nuanced, and backed up strongly. But the rest of the comments can often be very personal attacks on political figures with little substance on the topic at hand.
In general, here is some of what I have observed of how some political discussions are handled on TV:
journalism distinguishes between news reporting and opinion (the distinguishing of fact and opinion). News reporting is expected to be “fair and balanced”.
in discussions of opinion, all viewpoints are allowed, but this does not mean that those viewpoints can go unchallenged. People are generally expected to be prepared to be able to back up what they say. And on giving opinions, it is expected (and enforced by moderators) that people start from the truth, and then opine from there. (And civility is enforced, so no personal attacks or verbal abuse etc.)
(It is very hard to discuss things if people don’t have a shared reality, which is part of the problem with misinformation and disinformation, and it’s part of why fact-checking is valued and regarded as important)
The aspect of “all viewpoints allowed but be prepared to defend what you say” allows people to discuss what they want, without others resorting to the technique of “cancelling” or “shutting down” their opinion - people can have a viewpoint, but it is expected that they enter the debate being prepared to back it up, and being prepared that others might challenge that viewpoint with their own points.
I didn’t really realise these until I started watching our national broadcaster more frequently. but on a final point, moderators of debates or panels are impartial to either side — they hold all sides to account, they give air time to all sides, and they don’t favour one side over another — they leave that case to be made by the debaters or panellists themselves, and it is left up to the audience to decide and make up their mind on the issue, from what has been presented to them