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Engaging the social news consumer - The future of journalism Cardiff 2013

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. Where the audience initially only commented on the media platforms themselves, Facebook made it possible to outsource commenting to a third-party platform. Outsourcing means less maintenance costs, while Facebook- commenting could also lead to more quality because anonymous commenting is no longer an option. The options users have, the rules commenters have to follow, the moderation regime they are faced with could also influence the quantity (and quality) of comments. Nevertheless, this influence has not been tested empirically. With this study we address the question how news media deal with audience comments on Facebook and their own news site and how this influences the quality and quantity of the comments. We compared comments on news platforms and Facebook of 62 Dutch national and regional newspapers, public and commercial broadcasters, newsweeklies, national news programs 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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Engaging the social news consumer - The future of journalism Cardiff 2013

  1. 1. Engaging the social news user Comments on news sites and Facebook Sanne Hille & Piet Bakker University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, School of Journalism Future of Journalism Conference, 13-14 September 2013, Cardiff
  2. 2. User comments “By requiring a Facebook registration, it will cut down on the mean- spirited, profane and sometimes useless responses because one's friends will also see the comments in their newsfeeds”. Jimmy Orr, LA Times 3 Journalists and audience do not always appreciate this form of audience participation
  3. 3. Facebook in the Netherlands 4 Population Facebook users Penetration online population 16 million 7,5 million 50 % Socialbakers.com 18 22 38 39 58 46 42 26 25 6 Yes No
  4. 4. Comments on news sites and Facebook Research question: In which way do news media deal with audience comments on Facebook and their own news site and how does this influence the quality and quantity of the comments? 5
  5. 5. Methodology 62 news media 20 news media 3,489 comments Representing Dutch news media on the Internet: ✓Dutch national and regional daily newspapers ✓News magazines ✓National news programs ✓Regional broadcasters ✓Web only ✓ Comment section on news site ✓ Posted about: ✓ Content analysis of the comment management systems ✓ Analysed with MAXQDA ✓ Indicators of high and low quality: Defamation, incitement, a busive content, racism and hate speech, detected sources, story ideas and material follow up leads provided by the commenters (Singer, 2011). 6
  6. 6. The amount of comments 7 76% 24% News sites Facebook N=3,489
  7. 7. The quality of the comments • Little to none off-topic response, provided tips, leads and material, story ideas and sources. • Little to none abusive comments • Little Identified typos and errors on NRC.nl • Comments on Facebook do not contribute to the content in a positive or negative way ”Something I noticed today; Willem-Alexander wore his wedding ring in recent years on his left hand / finger (Catholic way). Also during the ceremony of the abdication. Immediately after the abdication, balcony scene and Inauguration of the New Church, he wears his wedding ring on his right hand / finger (Protestant way). Something worth knowing?” Jon, NRC site 8 “She looked beautiful.... Hollywood you are too late” Mo Adag, NRC Facebook page • Strong interaction between users on Nu.nl and NRC.nl • Little to none interaction between news media and users
  8. 8. Friends House rules Registration Post-mod Pre-mod Report button Social plugin Nu.nl 71,712 ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ Hart van Nederland 30,150 ✓ ✓ ✓ RTL Nieuws 20,999 ✓ ✓ ✓ NRC Handelsblad 19,033 ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ Omroep Brabant 13,579 ✓ ✓ ✓ Omroep Gelderland 13,343 ✓ ✓ Metro 12,589 ✓ ✓ Leeuwarder Courant 9,224 ✓ ✓ ✓ EenVandaag 5,520 ✓ ✓ BN/de Stem 4,110 ✓ ✓ ✓ RTV Oost 3,712 ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ Elsevier 3,499 ✓ ✓ ✓ Eindhovens Dagblad 3,174 ✓ ✓ ✓ RTV Noord Holland 2,750 ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ De Gelderlander 2,130 ✓ ✓ ✓ PZC 1,184 ✓ ✓ ✓ Trouw 1,111 ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ Haarlems Dagblad 857 ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ Noordhollands Dagblad 771 ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ Nederlands Dagblad 538 ✓ ✓ ✓ Total 17 14 14 6 5 11
  9. 9. Conclusion/discussion Facebook will provide fewer comments, will kill the trolls but also will make the conversation hollow 10
  10. 10. Contact • Sanne.hille@hu.nl • @sannehille • www.journalismlab.nl • @JlabHU • https://www.facebook.com/JlabHU 11

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