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Manosevitch

ISOJ 2009

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Manosevitch

  1. 1. Reader Comments to Online Opinion Journalism: A Space of Public Deliberation Edith Manosevitch and Dana Walker Kettering Foundation
  2. 2. Opinion Journalism and Democracy “Editorial writing is more than another way of making money. It is a profession devoted to the public welfare and to public service. The chief duty of its practitioners is to provide the information and guidance toward sound judgments that are essential to the healthy functioning of a democracy... ....The editorial writer should realize that the public will appreciate more the value of the First Amendment if others are accorded an opportunity for expression. Therefore, voice should be given to diverse opinions, edited faithfully to reflect stated views. Targets of criticism -- whether in a letter, editorial cartoon or signed column -- especially deserve an opportunity to respond....” Basic Statement of Principles of the National Conference of Opinion Writers  (Adopted in Philadelphia, October 10, 1975) 
  3. 3. Online Journalism Potential for Civic Participation • Interactivity for citizen participation: Surveys of the field (Nip, 2006; Roseberry, 2005; Schultz, 1999) • User Generated Content: Concerns (Hermida & Thurman, 2007; Thurman, 2006) • Blogs in journalism contexts (Barlow, 2008; Reese et al., 2007). • The content: Does it manifest productive participation? • Reader comments • Opinion journalism
  4. 4. Research Question In what ways and to what extent can reader comments to online journalistic opinion content, embody a space of public deliberation?
  5. 5. Defining Public Deliberation (Gastil, 2008) Analytic Process Information base: Facts, experience Values Range of solutions Weighing pros, cons, tradeoffs (reasons) Social Process Equal access Mutual comprehension Consideration Respect
  6. 6. Method • Pilot study • Data: Readers comments to issue-based editorial/op-ed published Jan. 4-10/08 (n=9), in TCPalm.com & DesMoinesRegister.com. • Content analysis • Unit of analysis: One comment (n=124) • Coding: 9 deliberation criteria: 1 = comment includes criterion 0 = comment does not include criterion
  7. 7. Findings
  8. 8. Table 1: Mean Scores for Deliberation Items by Issue & Newspaper Newspaper Issue (n = ) Analytic Process of Deliberation Social Process of Deliberation Narrative Facts Source Values Positio n Reason Pose questions Address Others Address Article Total deliberation TCPalm Ethanol (11) 0.1 0.7 0.3 0 0.7 0.7 0.2 0.6 0.1 3.4 School (8) 0 0.5 0.3 0 0.5 0.5 0.3 0.1 0.4 2.5 Gifted (26) 0.1 0.6 0.3 0 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.6 0.2 3 Des Moines Health Insurance (29) 0 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.6 0.1 1.7 Math & Science (5) 0 0.6 0 0 1 0.6 0 0 0 2.2 HS minutes (5) 0.2 0.6 0 0.2 0.8 0.8 0.2 0 0.2 3.4 Insure Kids (24) 0 0.3 0 0.4 0.5 0.4 0.1 0.6 0.1 2.2 Science (6) 0 0.7 0 0.3 0.7 0.7 0.2 0.3 0.2 3 Caucus (10) 0 0.7 0 0 0.4 0.4 0 0.4 0 1.8 Entire Sample n=124 0.1 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.5 0.4 0.1 0.5 0.2 2.4
  9. 9. Table 2: Factor Loadings for Dimensions of Deliberation Factor Label Analytic Process Social Process Deliberation Item narrative 0.25 -0.35 facts 0.58 0.13 sources 0.11 0.62 value 0.4 -0.34 position 0.82 -0.08 reason 0.81 0.03 clarify 0.32 0.53 other -0.36 0.56 article 0.47 0.34 Eigen value 2.35 1.35 % variance 26.1 15 Extraction method: Principal component Analysis.
  10. 10. Discussion • Deliberation: Social-analytic connection Implications: • Discussion threads • The role of design (Wright & Street, 2007) • Personal narratives and deliberation: Implications: • Reader comments -- resource for narratives • Design features to encourage narratives • Online journalism and citizen participation • Normative-economic justification for reader comments (Wahl-Jorgensen, 2002)
  11. 11. Acknowledgments The authors thank the Kettering Foundation for their support of this project, Emily Haas for her diligent coding and insightful observations, and Eddie Roth for fruitful discussions that helped inspire this research.

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