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Na'ama Nagar
SUNY Albany
Department of Political Science
nn999476@albany.edu
The Loud Public: Users' Comments
and the Online News Media
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Interactivity as a multidimensional construct (McMillan 2006)
A Typology of User-to-User Interactivity A Typology of User-to-Documents Interactivity
Message:
Subject:
Literature Review
Direction of communication
One-way Two-way
High
Low
Level of
receiver
control
Monologue
Mutual discourse
Responsive dialogue
Feedback
S
P P
RSR
S R
Nature of audience
Passive Active
High
Low
Level of
receiver
control
Packaged content
Co-created content
Content exchange
Content-on-demand
P PS R
RSS R
Interactivity and the online news media
• Online news media perspectives of interactive features (Chung
2007; Domingo 2008; Hermida and Thurman 2008; Thurman 2008).
• Talkbacks as one of many interactive features (Domingo 2008;
Hermida and Thurman 2008)
• Talkbacks in the literature (Abdul-Mageed 2008; Hecht 2003; Kohn and
Neiger 2007).
Agenda-Building
• Agenda-building offline (Dearing and Rogers 1996; McCombs 2004;
Neuman et. al. 1992; Shoemaker and Reese 1992; Weaver and Elliott 1985).
• Agenda-building online (Boczkowski 2004; Cassidy 2008; Messner and
DiStaso 2008; Wallsten 2007; Weaver et. al. 2007).
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Subject:
Literature Review –
cont.
Message:
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Research Questions
RQ1: How do online editors perceive the talkback feature?
RQ2: In what way and to what extent do talkbacks influence
editorial decisions?
Subject:
Message:
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Cases Studies
U.K. Israel
National Newspapers Timesonline.co.uk
Telegraph.co.uk
Guardian.co.uk
Independent.co.uk
Dailyexpress.co.uk
Mirror.co.uk
Ynet.co.il
Haaretz.co.il
Nrg.co.il
Regional and Local
Newspapers
Manchestereveningnews.co.uk
Thisislondon.co.uk
Other Walla.co.il
Jpost.com
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Subject:
Message:
Characteristics of the feature
Israel
All content,
full anonymity,
pre-moderation.
U.K. Scope of
content
Level of
anonymity
Moderation
A L B PA PI Pre Post
Times X X X
Telegraph X X X
Guardian X X X
Independent X X X
Daily Express X X X
Mirror X X X
MEN X X X
LES X X X
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Subject:
Message:
A – all content
L – limited content
B – journalistic blogs
-----
PA – partial anonymity
PI – partial identification
A blessing or a curse? A must!
An Israeli editor-in-chief:
If someone puts a gun to my head and asks me
to leave only two features on the site I will
leave news reports and talkbacks...
A British editor-in-chief:
The commentators are part of the site now.
The media landscape is changing with sites of
video, sites of audio, sites of comments, I think
if you do not have one of those things, if we
did not have comments on the site, we will be
dead.
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Subject:
Message:
Quality of
comments
An Israeli editor-in-chief:
Our policy in the beginning was to upload everything that is
legal, with very minimal selection…But I've reached a point
when I understood that the feature brings out the ugliest
aspects of Israeli society...and by allowing that, I am
facilitating a rather violent public discourse.
Solutions:
• Users’ profiles
• Empowering strong commentators
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Message:
Subject:
Agenda-Building
• The study of agenda-setting is about 'the relative importance of an issue on an
actor's agenda.‘ (Soroka 2002:5)
• In the study I hypothesize that talkbacks may influence editorial decisions in two
ways:
1. The quantity of talkbacks serves as cues of issue salience. These cues are then
taken into account in future editorial decision-making.
2. Comments may include information that could lead to new stories.
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Message:
Subject:
Agenda-Building – cont.
• Covering certain issues because they are likely to stir a debate
• Utilizing talkbacks as news sources
• Quantity matters! Follow ups on issues and stories that attract users’
attention.
• Caveat – talkbacks do not set media agenda, but ‘they do inform our
judgments.’
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Message:
Subject:
An Israeli editor-in-chief on follow ups:
As an editor my job is to provide information
but also to interest my audiences and if
people are interested in a certain article and
write a lot of comments than yes I will
consider a follow up to the story.
Follow up example from an Israeli news site
1. Reporting a story about a soldier who was sentenced to
21 days in military prison for yawning in Itzhak Rabin’s
memorial ceremony - 616 talkbacks.
2. The soldier’s mother response - 861 talkbacks.
3. An opinion piece criticizing the decision to send the
soldier to prison - 188 .
4. The soldier is released after 10 days in prison - 318
talkbacks.
British editor-in-chief on the effect of talkbacks:
We would certainly bear in mind articles that generate a
large response when considering future stories on that
topic. But in themselves, readers’ comments do not drive
the news agenda. If we allowed that to happen, we would
only publish stories on a very narrow number of subjects.
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Message:
Subject:
Agenda-Building
Discussion
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Subject:
Message:
• For commercial reasons the integration of talkbacks is a matter of
necessity.
• The decision to incorporate talkbacks is mainly a function of technological
resources available to the news site and market forces.
• Differences between British and Israeli editors.
• The online news media now have an audience they 'can hear and see.'
This does not mean that users dictate news media messages but they
have become one of many external forces that posses an agenda-building
capacity.
Future research
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Post Comment
Subject:
Message:
• The effect of talkbacks on online journalists.
• Quantitative analysis that examines the effect of talkbacks
on the probability of follow ups.
• A comparative analysis of the quality of comments.

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Nagar

  • 1. Na'ama Nagar SUNY Albany Department of Political Science nn999476@albany.edu The Loud Public: Users' Comments and the Online News Media
  • 2. Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Post Comment Interactivity as a multidimensional construct (McMillan 2006) A Typology of User-to-User Interactivity A Typology of User-to-Documents Interactivity Message: Subject: Literature Review Direction of communication One-way Two-way High Low Level of receiver control Monologue Mutual discourse Responsive dialogue Feedback S P P RSR S R Nature of audience Passive Active High Low Level of receiver control Packaged content Co-created content Content exchange Content-on-demand P PS R RSS R
  • 3. Interactivity and the online news media • Online news media perspectives of interactive features (Chung 2007; Domingo 2008; Hermida and Thurman 2008; Thurman 2008). • Talkbacks as one of many interactive features (Domingo 2008; Hermida and Thurman 2008) • Talkbacks in the literature (Abdul-Mageed 2008; Hecht 2003; Kohn and Neiger 2007). Agenda-Building • Agenda-building offline (Dearing and Rogers 1996; McCombs 2004; Neuman et. al. 1992; Shoemaker and Reese 1992; Weaver and Elliott 1985). • Agenda-building online (Boczkowski 2004; Cassidy 2008; Messner and DiStaso 2008; Wallsten 2007; Weaver et. al. 2007). Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Subject: Literature Review – cont. Message: Post Comment
  • 4. Research Questions RQ1: How do online editors perceive the talkback feature? RQ2: In what way and to what extent do talkbacks influence editorial decisions? Subject: Message: Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Post Comment
  • 5. Cases Studies U.K. Israel National Newspapers Timesonline.co.uk Telegraph.co.uk Guardian.co.uk Independent.co.uk Dailyexpress.co.uk Mirror.co.uk Ynet.co.il Haaretz.co.il Nrg.co.il Regional and Local Newspapers Manchestereveningnews.co.uk Thisislondon.co.uk Other Walla.co.il Jpost.com Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Post Comment Subject: Message:
  • 6. Characteristics of the feature Israel All content, full anonymity, pre-moderation. U.K. Scope of content Level of anonymity Moderation A L B PA PI Pre Post Times X X X Telegraph X X X Guardian X X X Independent X X X Daily Express X X X Mirror X X X MEN X X X LES X X X Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Post Comment Subject: Message: A – all content L – limited content B – journalistic blogs ----- PA – partial anonymity PI – partial identification
  • 7. A blessing or a curse? A must! An Israeli editor-in-chief: If someone puts a gun to my head and asks me to leave only two features on the site I will leave news reports and talkbacks... A British editor-in-chief: The commentators are part of the site now. The media landscape is changing with sites of video, sites of audio, sites of comments, I think if you do not have one of those things, if we did not have comments on the site, we will be dead. Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Post Comment Subject: Message:
  • 8. Quality of comments An Israeli editor-in-chief: Our policy in the beginning was to upload everything that is legal, with very minimal selection…But I've reached a point when I understood that the feature brings out the ugliest aspects of Israeli society...and by allowing that, I am facilitating a rather violent public discourse. Solutions: • Users’ profiles • Empowering strong commentators Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Post Comment Message: Subject:
  • 9. Agenda-Building • The study of agenda-setting is about 'the relative importance of an issue on an actor's agenda.‘ (Soroka 2002:5) • In the study I hypothesize that talkbacks may influence editorial decisions in two ways: 1. The quantity of talkbacks serves as cues of issue salience. These cues are then taken into account in future editorial decision-making. 2. Comments may include information that could lead to new stories. Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Post Comment Message: Subject:
  • 10. Agenda-Building – cont. • Covering certain issues because they are likely to stir a debate • Utilizing talkbacks as news sources • Quantity matters! Follow ups on issues and stories that attract users’ attention. • Caveat – talkbacks do not set media agenda, but ‘they do inform our judgments.’ Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Post Comment Message: Subject:
  • 11. An Israeli editor-in-chief on follow ups: As an editor my job is to provide information but also to interest my audiences and if people are interested in a certain article and write a lot of comments than yes I will consider a follow up to the story. Follow up example from an Israeli news site 1. Reporting a story about a soldier who was sentenced to 21 days in military prison for yawning in Itzhak Rabin’s memorial ceremony - 616 talkbacks. 2. The soldier’s mother response - 861 talkbacks. 3. An opinion piece criticizing the decision to send the soldier to prison - 188 . 4. The soldier is released after 10 days in prison - 318 talkbacks. British editor-in-chief on the effect of talkbacks: We would certainly bear in mind articles that generate a large response when considering future stories on that topic. But in themselves, readers’ comments do not drive the news agenda. If we allowed that to happen, we would only publish stories on a very narrow number of subjects. Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Post Comment Message: Subject: Agenda-Building
  • 12. Discussion Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Post Comment Subject: Message: • For commercial reasons the integration of talkbacks is a matter of necessity. • The decision to incorporate talkbacks is mainly a function of technological resources available to the news site and market forces. • Differences between British and Israeli editors. • The online news media now have an audience they 'can hear and see.' This does not mean that users dictate news media messages but they have become one of many external forces that posses an agenda-building capacity.
  • 13. Future research Post a Comment Offensive or abusive comments will be removed and your IP logged and may be used to prevent further submission. Post Comment Subject: Message: • The effect of talkbacks on online journalists. • Quantitative analysis that examines the effect of talkbacks on the probability of follow ups. • A comparative analysis of the quality of comments.