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Times readers will be able to see when 'favourite journalists' are online in comment section upgrade

The Times and Sunday Times are updating their comments sections to allow readers to see when their favourite journalists are online and more easily take part in discussions.

The upgrade will add comments to the titles’ mobile app for the first time in a bid to better serve their growing digital readership.

Last month News UK, owner of the Times titles, announced digital had outnumbered print subscriptions for the first time.

Digital-only subscriptions rose 20 per cent year-on-year to reach 255,000, according to figures from June. The titles have a combined 500,000 subscribers in print and digital.

A community newsletter is also set to be launched to this effect. The newsletter will welcome contributions from the “most engaged” subscribers.

In an article announcing the changes, Times engagement editor Charlotte Seager told readers: “Since we launched the mobile app, one of our most-requested features was the ability to comment.

“We’ve listened to your feedback, and in a few weeks comments will be available across both the mobile app and desktop versions.”

She added: “Our new platform will show you directly when your favourite journalists are online – making it easier to find and take part in discussions.”

The upgrade will also include a refresh of the “look and feel” of the comments section to make it more intuitive.

Seager said the Times titles would be re-introducing user profiles later in the year to allow readers to track and view their comment history.

“We’ll also be giving readers the option to upload a profile photo to their comment account, take part in group conversations with journalists and join community comment groups built around topics of interest,” she said.

Registered Times users will be given the ability to comment, as well as paying subscribers, to “encourage them t take part and get more involved in Times discussions”.

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