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User-Generated (Dis)Content. Eine Literatursynopse zur Nutzung der Kommentarfunktion auf Nachrichtensites im Internet

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Abstract

Nutzerkommentare machen Publikumsreaktionen auf und Anschlusskommunikation über journalistische Inhalte öffentlich und gelten als eine der am häufigsten genutzten Formen von Leserbeteiligung am Journalismus. Aufgrund ihrer Popularität, ihrer kontroversen Natur und den Herausforderungen, die mit der Implementierung einer Kommentarfunktion auf Nachrichtensites im Internet entstehen, werden Nutzerkommentare inzwischen von vielen Forscherinnen und Forschern untersucht. Der Beitrag liefert einen systematischen Überblick über Studien im Bereich der Journalismusforschung, der Nutzer- und Nutzungsforschung sowie der Medieninhalts- und Medienwirkungsforschung. Durch diesen integrativen Überblick soll der Gegenstand systematisch durchleuchtet und ein großer Teil des verfügbaren Literaturkorpus synthetisiert werden, um Diskussionen in Wissenschaft und Medienöffentlichkeit ein theoretisches und empirisches Fundament zu geben, Forschungslücken zu identifizieren und künftige Projekte in diesem Bereich anzustoßen.

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... Eine Besonderheit der Einbindung von Journalisten auf Twitter besteht darin, dass die @-Erwähnung auch unabhängig von einem journalistischen Beitrag erfolgen kann (anders als bei Nutzerkommentaren) und das potenzielle Publikum in dieser Interaktion nicht allein auf persönliche Follower limitiert ist, sondern beispielsweise durch Hashtags auch größere Nutzerkreise umfasst (Bruns und Moe 2014). Da viele Redaktionen die Möglichkeit des direkten Kommentierens auf ihren eigenen Webpräsenzen bereits beschränkt haben, stellen Plattformen wie Facebook und Twitter gewissermaßen Ausweichkanäle dar (Quandt 2018;Springer und Kümpel 2018). ...
... Motive unterschieden (Ziegele 2016). Nach Springer und Kümpel (2018) können auf die Gemeinschaft bezogene, sozial-interaktive Motive des Kommentierens von Nachrichten (z. B. Kontaktsuche, Meinungsaustausch) analog auf Journalisten zielen. ...
... Diese kann durch Ergänzungen oder durch Korrekturen und Widerspruch erfolgen (Springer 2011;Ziegele et al. 2013). Dass Nutzer auf ihr Feedback eine Reaktion erhalten, ist allerdings unwahrscheinlich: Im Kommentarbereich beteiligen sich Journalisten nur höchst selten (Springer und Kümpel 2018). Für das Teilen von Nachrichten in sozialen Medien ermitteln Kümpel et al. (2015) auf Basis einer Studienübersicht in Teilen ähnliche Motivgruppen wie die Forschung zu Nutzerkommentaren: Unterschieden werden eigennützige Motive (Reputation, Status und Aufmerksamkeit erlangen), altruistische Motive (Informationen teilen) und sozial-interaktive Motive (Interagieren mit Anderen und soziale Zustimmung erhalten). ...
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Zusammenfassung Auf Twitter sind viele Journalisten mit persönlichen Accounts präsent und damit ein potenzieller Interaktionspartner für das Publikum. Untersuchungen aktiver Twitterer zeigen, dass auf der Netzwerkplattform politisch interessierte, persönlichkeitsstarke Nutzer interagieren, die sich vom Durchschnitt typischer Internetnutzer unterscheiden. Nachrichtenjournalisten berichten über negative Erfahrungen im direkten Publikumskontakt auf Twitter. Anders als bei Nutzerkommentaren auf Nachrichtenseiten sind öffentliche Anschriebe und Kontakte zu Journalisten auch unabhängig von einem Beitrag möglich. Zu diesem Phänomen existieren bislang jedoch kaum Studien. Über ein Tracking der Anschriebe wird daher erstens untersucht, wie häufig Politikjournalisten 2017 überhaupt in Tweets erwähnt wurden. Zweitens wurden die Nutzer befragt, die die Journalisten angeschrieben haben. Eine Nutzergruppe aus mehreren zehntausend Accounts nimmt Adressierungen vor. Die Erwähnungen verteilen sich unter den Journalisten ungleich. Die Nutzung von Blogs als alternative Informationsquelle und starke politische Orientierungen erklären das Vorkommen häufiger Interaktionen. Als Hauptmotivationen für Interaktionen zeigen sich das Bedürfnis nach eigener Meinungsäußerung und Kritik sowie das Weitergeben von neuen Informationen und Feedback an Journalisten. Sind diese Motivationen ausgeprägt, tendieren die Nutzer eher zu häufigen Interaktionen.
... communication science, psychology, political science, sociology) cover a wide range of topics and perspectives (democratic norms, Freelon, 2015;extremist behavior, Almoqbel et al., 2019;product perceptions, Yıldırım, 2013). Due to this widespread examination of UCs in different disciplines, a variety of terms and constructs, such as news or reader comments (Abdul-Mageed, 2008;Springer and Kümpel, 2018) in communication science, user reviews (Hu et al., 2019;Ye et al., 2009) in economics and self-help or social support groups (Wright, 2016) in health care and psychology have evolved. This fragmentation may hinder the progress of research on UCs and, due to missing clarity about the discussed topics in related fields, restricts the ability of researchers to effectively use the existing literature. ...
... In addition, the comment function allows users to switch from the passive receiver role to the active speaker role (Manosevitch and Walker, 2009;Springer et al., 2015). Both aspects are recognized as desirable for democratic processes (Manosevitch and Walker, 2009;Springer et al., 2015;Springer and Kümpel, 2018). Usually, news comments are informal and consist of short and unstructured responses of users "to a news item, expressing sentiment/opinion, a question, a rumor, or a call to action" (Liu et al., 2015: 769). ...
Article
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Online user comments (UCs) as the most popular type of online audience participation nowadays form a popular and important field of research. The widespread examination of UCs across different disciplines leads to a variety of terms and constructs and thus a missing clarity about the discussed topics. With this computational scoping review, we uncovered six relevant, overarching topics and their development in the field. Due to the combination of an automatic text analysis via structural topic modeling and a qualitative evaluation, we were able to describe the current state of UC research and found an inherently interdisciplinary body of literature. We observed an inter- and intradisciplinary fragmentation and call for a systematization of the used terms, constructs, and examined topics.
... Finally, journalists might presume negative consequences of public hate speech on their audience. For instance, there is some evidence that incivil user comments can negatively influence recipients' assessment of the quality of journalistic content (Prochazka et al., 2016;Springer & Kümpel, 2018). Subsequently, journalists suspect these comments to affect their work negatively, for instance, by scaring off informants (Singer & Ashman, 2009). ...
... For instance, journalists' position in the newsroom might influence how they deal with hate speech. On the one hand, since journalists in a non-leading role are more often visible as authors in news coverage, they may more frequently be the target of personal hate speech than journalists in leading positions (also see Chen & Pain, 2017;Domingo, 2008;Springer & Kümpel, 2018). Thus, they might more often use coping strate-Full Paper gies that deal with the immediate emotional and cognitive consequences. ...
Article
Journalists around the world have increasingly become a target of hate speech in recent years. This is also true for Germany. Since journalists fulfil a public duty in democratic societies, there is reason for concern. As previous research shows, hateful verbal attacks may not only lead to negative emotions and cognitions, but also impair journalistic work. Therefore, this study is concerned with the perceived consequences of hate speech against journalists and the coping strategies used. Results from our quantitative online survey show that a considerable number of German journalists is targeted personally by hate speech. A majority of journalists sees this as a growing problem and assumes that hate speech negatively affects the sentiment towards journalists in society. Moreover, hate speech against journalists can cause negative emotions such as worries and anger, but also strengthens the feeling of confirmation in journalistic work. In line with that, journalists rather use coping strategies to deal with the negative emotions and thoughts triggered by hate speech than applying means to prevent further incidents of hate speech. However, feeling angry, threatened, and confirmed in journalistic work in reaction to hate speech contributes to the latter problem-focused coping.
... In order to capture public debate online, comment sections, predominantly on news websites, have been the target of attention since their introduction [19][20][21][22][23]. Studies found that user comments on news articles affected individuals' perceptions of public opinion [20,21]-more so than simple comparisons of likes and dislikes. ...
Article
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This article analyses public debate on Twitter via network representations of retweets and replies. We argue that tweets observable on Twitter have both a direct and mediated effect on the perception of public opinion. Through the interplay of the two networks, it is possible to identify potentially misleading representations of public opinion on the platform. The method is employed to observe public debate about two events: The Saxon state elections and violent riots in the city of Leipzig in 2019. We show that in both cases, (i) different opinion groups exhibit different propensities to get involved in debate, and therefore have unequal impact on public opinion. Users retweeting far-right parties and politicians are significantly more active, hence their positions are disproportionately visible. (ii) Said users act significantly more confrontational in the sense that they reply mostly to users from different groups, while the contrary is not the case.
... Es mangelt auch an geeigneten Diskussionsformaten. Redaktionen vernachlässigen die Kommentarmöglichkeiten unter Online-Artikeln (als Forschungsüberblick vgl. Springer & Kümpel, 2018). Oft begnügen sie sich mit den vorfindbaren, aber wenig geeigneten Plattformen wie Facebook und Twitter, die den Redaktionen aber Kosten ersparen und ihnen zusätzliche Reichweite verschaffen. ...
Chapter
Digital platforms are becoming increasingly relevant for the constitution of markets. As they can be used in a multifunctional way, platforms are also having a massive impact on the provision and dissemination of both public and private information. Moreover, they are playing a significant role in social exchange. Platforms that facilitate the provision and dissemination of media content and journalistic work are having both economic and cultural effects on the traditional media and communications industry, which is becoming irrelevant and losing income from advertising and users. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, especially are becoming important means for certain social groups to acquire up-to-date information. Platforms and their growth and development are influencing both the traditional media and journalism, which is becoming clear from the growing financial crisis these two sectors are experiencing. The unfolding transformation process is having diverse effects on both the public sphere and on information and communication processes, which in turn is affecting liberal democracy. These changes require specific attention in both interdisciplinary research and politics (the design of a media and communications landscape, regulation, etc.). With contributions by Klaus Beck, Patrick Donges, Otfried Jarren, Katharina von Kleinen-Königslow, Frank Löbigs, Christoph Neuberger, Manuel Puppis
... Unfortunately, while both journalists and the general public seem to recognize the deliberative potential in commenting platforms, there is widespread concern about the quality of discussion occurring in these spaces. This chapter integrates our empirical and theoretical work on (in) civility in user comments Ksiazek & Peer, 2016;Ksiazek, Peer, & Zivic, 2015;Ksiazek & Springer, 2018), viewpoint diversity, comments as political action, and commenting effects (Baden & Springer, 2014;Ksiazek & Springer, 2018;Springer & Kümpel, 2018). We conclude this chapter by considering variations in commenting norms, beyond a traditional deliberation framework. ...
... Overall, our study adds to the already vast body of research showing that user comments can affect the perceptions and judgments of those that are exposed to comments (see Ksiazek & Springer, 2018;Springer & Kümpel, 2018). However, these effects seem to hinge both on the valence of comments as well as the time of exposure: Readers of user comments appear to adjust their evaluations of a journalistic article according to the opinion of others, but only when comments criticize the article and more so when they are reading the comments after the article. ...
Article
A number of studies show that user comments on news websites can affect news-related judgments and perceptions. However, with news organizations increasingly shifting their comment sections to social network sites (SNS), questions arise about whether this alters previously observed effects. Instead of encountering comments “below the line,” SNS provoke a reversed direction of exposure, suggesting that comments might be read before the news article. Addressing the implications of this shift in direction of exposure, we conducted a preregistered experiment with German participants (N = 630), in which we varied comment presentation order (before vs. after the article) and comment valence (positive vs. negative) and assessed how these factors influence the way individuals perceive the journalistic quality of commented news articles. The data provide evidence for a negativity bias and presentation order effects, with negative comments showing distinct effects on quality perceptions, particularly when presented after the article.
... Die Frage danach, warum Menschen Nachrichteninhalte kommentieren, wurde bislang vor allem im Kontext von Online-Nachrichtenseiten untersucht (siehe u.a. Diakopoulos & Naaman, 2011;Springer, 2014;Springer, Engelmann, & Pfaffinger, 2015;Ziegele u. a., 2013; für einen Überblick siehe auch Springer & Kümpel, 2018). Die sowohl qualitativ als auch quantitativ durchgeführten Studien zeigen dabei, dass insbesondere kognitive Motive (z.B. ...
Book
Anna Sophie Kümpel geht der Frage nach, welche Faktoren die Auseinandersetzung mit Nachrichteninhalten beeinflussen, die während der Facebook-Nutzung beiläufig entdeckt werden (Incidental News Exposure). Hierfür systematisiert die Autorin relevante Rahmenbedingungen sowie Einflussfaktoren und prüft deren Bedeutung mithilfe eines qualitativ-quantitativen Mixed-Methods-Ansatzes. Die Befunde zeigen, dass vor allem bestehende Themeninteressen die Zuwendung zu Nachrichten erklären können. Daneben spielen im Kontext von Facebook jedoch auch soziale Einflüsse sowie die Art des Nachrichtenerfahrens eine Rolle. Der Inhalt • Nachrichtennutzung auf sozialen Netzwerkseiten • Nachrichten auf Facebook: Vom beiläufigen Kontakt zur Auseinandersetzung • Wege zum Klick: Welche Merkmale beeinflussen die Auseinandersetzung mit Nachrichten auf Facebook? Die Zielgruppen • Dozierende und Studierende der Sozialwissenschaften sowie insbesondere der Medien- und Kommunikationswissenschaft • Journalisten und Social-Media-Manager Die Autorin Anna Sophie Kümpel ist wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft und Medienforschung der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.
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Digitale Plattformen sind aus dem Leben der Menschen nicht mehr wegzudenken. Kommunikation läuft über Messenger, Freundschaften werden über soziale Netzwerke gepflegt, Urlaube über Wohnungsvermietungen geplant. Plattformen sind damit zu Teilen der gesellschaftlichen und sozialen Infrastruktur geworden. In den vergangenen Jahren stehen die Plattform-Giganten wie Facebook, Twitter oder YouTube jedoch auch zunehmend in der Kritik, beispielsweise wegen ihrer Datenverarbeitung, Steuermodelle, Hasskommentaren oder disruptiven Geschäftsmodellen für andere Branchen. Betroffen davon sind auch journalistische Medien aller Gattungen, einerseits wegen einer massiven Verschiebung des Werbebudgets hin zu Google und Facebook, andererseits wegen einer unterstellten dysfunktionalen Wirkung der Plattformen für die Öffentlichkeit und die Gesellschaft. Fragestellung dieser Studie war es, zu klären, inwiefern kooperative Medienplattformen geeignet sein können, die Bereitstellung und Vermittlung publizistischer Leistungen vor dem Hintergrund des digitalen Wandels auch im Medien- und Kommunikationssektor auch in Zukunft gewährleisten zu können. Es geht um die Bereitstellung eines meritorischen Gutes, auf das die Gesellschaft sowohl aus normativen, demokratietheoretischen wie funktionalen Überlegungen heraus auch unter Netzwerkbedingungen nicht verzichten kann. Die Vermittlung publizistischer, und konkret auch journalistischer Inhalte und Leistungen über Plattformen, die sich als Infrastrukturen etablieren, ist daher eine regulatorische Aufgabe im öffentlichen Interesse.
Chapter
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Durch die Verbreitung von Social Media-Plattformen und ihren Funktionalitäten zur Vernetzung von Akteuren liegt es nahe, die im Internet entstehenden Formen öffentlicher Kommunikation als Netzwerk zu verstehen. Darauf aufbauend soll unser Aufsatz zeigen, dass die Netzwerköffentlichkeit keineswegs auf Online-Plattformen beschränkt ist, mehr als eine eingängige Metapher ist sowie als Basis für eine theoretische und empirische Analyse verschiedener Kommunikationsformen hilfreich ist.
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In diesem Open-Access-Buch geht es um die Frage, welche individuellen Faktoren Vertrauen bzw. Misstrauen in Journalismus erklären. In Teilen der Bevölkerung erodiert das Vertrauen in journalistische Medien. Gleichzeitig verliert der Journalismus seine Rolle als Gatekeeper und tritt in Konkurrenz zu anderen Informationsanbietern im Internet. Fabian Prochazka untersucht theoretisch und empirisch, wie diese beiden Phänomene zusammenhängen. In welchen gesellschaftlichen Milieus ist Vertrauen bzw. Misstrauen in den Journalismus besonders verbreitet und wie hängt es mit Personenmerkmalen zusammen? Welche Qualitätswahrnehmungen und Vorwürfe an den Journalismus stehen hinter einer vertrauensvollen oder misstrauischen Haltung? Beschädigt oder stärkt die gewandelte Informationsumgebung im Internet das Vertrauen in den Journalismus?
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Chapter
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While a growing body of literature attests to the relationship between user identifiability and inflamma-tory speech online, few studies have investigated the ways in which different anonymity control mechanisms affect the quality of online discussions. In this study, two mechanisms, a policy-driven and a voluntary approach, are examined for their conditional and interaction effects on reducing flaming in user comments online. Based on a large-scale, real-world data on political news comments in South Korea, the results suggest that whereas the policy-driven regulation does not reduce, and even increases, flaming, the voluntary approach significantly decreases it, especially among the moderate commenters. The findings are further speculated from an economic perspective by which transaction costs are perceived differently contingent on the ways in which anonymous commenting is regulated.
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This article analyzes the nature of debate on “below the line” comment fields at the United Kingdom’s Guardian, and how, if at all, such debates are impacting journalism practice. The article combines a content analysis of 3,792 comments across eighty-five articles that focused on the UN Climate Change Summit, with ten interviews with journalists, two with affiliated commentators, plus the community manager. The results suggest a more positive picture than has been found by many existing studies: Debates were often deliberative in nature, and journalists reported that it was positively impacting their practice in several ways, including providing new story leads and enhanced critical reflection. However, citizen–journalist debate was limited. The results are attributed to the normalization of comment fields into everyday journalism practice, extensive support and encouragement from senior management, and a realization that comment fields can actually make the journalists’ life a little easier.
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Posting comments on the news is one of the most popular forms of user participation in online newspapers, and there is great potential for public discourse that is associated with this form of user communication. However, this potential arises only when several users participate in commenting and when their communication becomes interactive. Based on an adaption of Galtung and Ruge’s theory of newsworthiness, we hypothesized that a news article’s news factors affect both participation levels and interactivity in a news item’s comments section. The data from an online content analysis of political news are consistent with the hypotheses. This article explores the ways in which news factors affect participation levels and interactivity, and it discusses the theoretical, normative, and practical implications of those findings.
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The emergence of online reader comments over the past years has made opinions of readers more visible to journalists and users of news websites. This article discusses whether online reader comments provide a representative picture of the opinion of news site users and how this affects the perceived public opinion. Findings of an online survey among the users of eight Swiss newspapers indicate that comments are not representative since people who write comments tend to differ from those reading the comments with respect to gender, age, and political orientation. Of special interest is the finding that those writing comments tend to be politically further right than those reading comments and that " rightists " are writing more frequently. However, readers of the comments are not aware of this bias, leading to a systematically distorted perception of public opinion. Different types of regulation are discussed with respect to their acceptance as well as their potential impact on comments. Licence: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY 4.0)
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Marc Ziegele untersucht, was Nachrichten im Internet nicht nur lesenswert, sondern auch diskussionswert macht. Hierfür entwickelt der Autor auf Grundlage der Nachrichtenwerttheorie ein theoretisches Modell über die Motive von Internetnutzern, Nachrichten zu kommentieren und zeigt auf, warum sich bestimmte Kommentarinhalte bei bestimmten Meldungen häufen. Dieses Modell wird in drei qualitativen Untersuchungen empirisch fundiert und erweitert. Eine zentrale Erkenntnis der Arbeit ist, dass Nachrichtenfaktoren in journalistischen Meldungen – unter anderem Kontroverse, Erfahrbarkeit – und Diskussionsfaktoren in Kommentaren – unter anderem Aggressivität, lebensweltliche Erfahrungen – das Kommentierbedürfnis von späteren Nutzern in einem dynamischen Zusammenspiel beeinflussen und für unterschiedliche Diskussionsqualitäten verantwortlich sind. Der Inhalt • Theoretisches Modell des Diskussionswerts • Nachrichtenwert und Diskussionswert• Qualitative Studien: Diskussionswerte Nachrichten- und Kommentareigenschaften • Der Einfluss von Diskussionsarchitekturen und individuellen Nutzermerkmalen Die Zielgruppen • Dozierende und Studierende der Sozialwissenschaften, insbesondere der Medien- und Kommunikationswissenschaft, Psychologie, Soziologie • Journalisten und Community-Manager Der Autor Marc Ziegele ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Publizistik der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.
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Much attention has been paid to the role of the audience in online news production. However, very little research has addressed how the audience understands this participation. Using the theories of affect and fandom, this paper will investigate the most popular form of online participation – comments. Based on a case study of Australian alternative journalism site, New Matilda, it will argue for a broader understanding of participation online, one that incorporates those who ‘internalise’ their participation and in particular the role emotion plays in audience engagement.
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The technology that allows readers to post anonymous online comments on newspaper websites gives readers unprecedented opportunities to participate, but poses challenges to the journalistic value of transparency, practice of gatekeeping, and conception of expertise. This nationwide survey of 583 US journalists explores whether the technology has affected their work practices, workplaces, or news coverage. The study, grounded in social shaping of technology theories, finds that journalists are not opposed to sharing their web platforms with readers' comments, but dislike user anonymity and ignore reader input. Despite the technological affordance that provides journalists a means to receive instant, global feedback from readers, journalists are maintaining their jurisdiction over news content and are not participating with readers in mutual shaping. This study finds that journalistic norms and conceptions of expertise prevent journalists from engaging with readers.
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This study examined the relationship between two mechanisms of online participation - clicking and commenting - as well as the characteristics of heavily clicked versus highly commented-upon news items. Based on 15,431 items from a popular Israeli website, correlations between clicking and commenting were calculated for 12 separately analysed months from 2006 to 2011. In addition, overlap rates were determined, showing that 40-59% of the heavily clicked items in any given month were different from the highly commented-upon items. A subsequent content analysis indicated that while sensational topics and curiosity-arousing elements were more prominent among the heavily clicked items than among the highly commented-upon items, political/social topics and controversial elements were more prominent among the highly commented-upon items. The study contributes to deepening our understanding of the role of user comments in constructing social/group identity and offers a new perspective on a prolonged controversy surrounding audiences’ news preferences.
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A contemporary debate in media studies concerns participation and empowerment, and to what extent digital media shift power to the citizens. This study assesses the long-term viability of par-ticipatory journalism using Swedish content and user data. Inclusion of comments and blog-links on news sites increased from 2007 to 2010, and decreased rather dramatically from 2011 onward. Posting user comments or writing blogs have never been activities that have appealed to a majority of the Swedes. Participatory journalism seems to have decreasing value to producers and little appeal to users. A shift in how power is distributed in the public sphere is absent. This is not primarily a problem of reluctant producers but, more importantly, a lack of interest from users. A central contemporary debate in media studies concerns participation, deliberation, and empow-erment and to what extent various forms of digital media change communication patterns and, broadly speaking, shift power to the citizens (Mitchelstein & Boczkowski, 2009). This debate cuts through many communication subfields such as activism (
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User comments allow ‘annotative reporting’ by embedding users’ viewpoints within an article's context, providing readers with additional information to form opinions, which can potentially enhance deliberative processes. But are these the only reasons why people comment on online news and read these comments? This study examines factors that motivate, or demotivate and constrict, such participation by surveying nearly 650 commenters, lurkers, and non-users in Germany. From a normative perspective, the results are ambivalent. The results show that commenters are driven by social-interactive motives to participate in journalism, and to discuss with other users. However, the data suggest that commenters do not obtain cognitive gratifications to the desired extent. Presumably, their exchange is socially and not deliberatively motivated. Reading comments is fuelled by both cognitive and entertainment motives, but regression analyses show that the entertainment dimension − a dimension that is not usually considered to be linked to deliberation processes − is the more stable one. A low standard of discussions not only increases the frequency at which comments are read, but also reduces lurkers’ satisfaction. Similarly, non-users are even more frustrated by the low quality of discussions. They consider such participation activities to be a waste of time, and are not willing to register.
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In an effort to clean up user comment sections, news organizations have turned to Facebook, the world's largest social network site, as a way to make users more identifiable and accountable for the content they produce. It is hypothesized that users leaving comments via their Facebook profile will be less likely to engage in uncivil and impolite discussion, even when it comes to discussing politically sensitive and potentially divisive issues. By analysing the content of discussion as it occurs in response to political news content on the Washington Post Facebook, and comparing it to that which occurs on the Washington Post website where users are afforded a relatively high level of anonymity, the present study determines the extent to which Facebook increases the level of civility and impoliteness in an area of political discussion renowned for uncivil and impolite communicative behaviour. In line with earlier theories of social interaction, the paper finds that political discussion on The Washington Post website is significantly more likely to be uncivil than discussion of the same content on the Washington Post Facebook page. Moreover, the incivility and impoliteness on the Washington Post website are significantly more likely to be directed towards other participants in the discussion compared to The Washington Post Facebook page.
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One of the most common formats of audience participation in journalism consists of online reader comments in response to articles, weblogs, or online television and radio broadcasts. While initially the audience only commented on media platforms themselves, Facebook made it possible to outsource commenting to a third-party platform. The options users have, the rules commenters are obliged to follow, and the moderation regime they confront, could influence the quantity and quality of comments. In this study, we explore how news media deal with audience comments on Facebook and their own news site, and how this influences the quality and quantity of comments. We compared comments on news platforms and Facebook of 62 Dutch national and regional newspapers, public and commercial broadcasters, newsweeklies, national news programmes, and online news sites. Subsequently, we analysed the content of the comments with the qualitative text analysis tool MAXQDA. The results indicate that news media prefer outsourcing comments to Facebook although commenting on their own platforms is still possible. By discouraging anonymous responses, the quality of comments improved but above all the quantity of comments decreased after outsourcing comments to Facebook.
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Incivility in public discussions has received increasing attention from academic and popular commentators in recent years. In an effort to better understand the nature and determinants of such incivility, this study examined a 3‐week census of articles and comments posted to a local newspaper's website—totaling more than 300 articles and 6,400 comments. The results of the content analysis show that incivility occurs frequently and is associated with key contextual factors, such as the topic of the article and the sources quoted within the article. We also find that, contrary to popular perceptions, frequent commenters are more civil than are infrequent commenters, and uncivil commenters are no less likely than civil commenters to use evidence in support of their claims.
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This article provides a case study of the BBC, and the attitudes of its news workers towards audience material, or, as it is more commonly referred to, user-generated content (UGC). Research has been carried out about the adoption of participatory and interactive elements in online newsrooms, but this is one of the first articles to examine a major broadcast organization. We propose a typology of audience material, along with an analysis of how these different types of UGC are used within the BBC, arguing that while some types are considered purely as newsgathering tools, others represent attempts by the BBC to become actively involved in networked and participatory journalism.