Most can't abide or be bothered with them for more or less obvious reasons; it's also interesting to consider that those who do see value in them are both beat journalists addressing a niche audience (Spectator and a BBC blog).
The article reminds me of Gawker's recent piece arguing that newspapers shouldn’t allow comments at all, at least not on news articles - a position I have some sympathy with. Perhaps comments should be welcomed on a news site’s blogs and forums only, while for instance using services such as Twingly to visualise the conversation the site’s news articles spur elsewhere on the web.
- The lack of defined community around national newspapers.
Another explanation that was put to me by a tabloid journalist, was that the fact that she couldn't be herself - as in a person who had such and such values and opinions - but had to represent the newspaper, made it a lot more difficult to engage in conversation with readers online. If I understand her correctly, we're back to how the mantra of objectivity inhibits journalists in this brave new world of ours.
I haven't encountered this particular obstacle myself, but then I predominantly write for journalists in my day-job - and if we get vitriolic comments it's most likely for missing a comma, or misspelling, or for not being good representatives for journalism at large - I can imagine it would feel much more inhibiting not being able to show your colours if the discussion is on politics, policy etc. To paraphrase Adriana, 'on the internet you can't behave like an institution. If you want to behave like one, you get isolated and bypassed.....