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Steering the Editorial Filter - User Comments as a Negotiated Space for Participation in Online News
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Media and communication science.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9539-9648
Lunds Universitet.
2014 (English)In: ECREA 2014 Lisboa - Communication for empowerment: citizens, markets, innovations: Book of abstracts, 2014, 28- p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The development of social media applications, such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter, has offered new participatory opportunities to everyday media users. In some respects, this also marks a transformation of public space, as the broadcasting era’s “audiences” nowadays also can take on the role as participating “co-creators”. Or to put it slightly differently: Contemporary media landscape allows for new forms of coexistence between producer and user generated content. For traditional media companies, this transformation has brought both challenges and opportunities. User generated content has always played a part in media production, but the current media situation has certainly made it a more salient feature. Among online newspapers, specifically, the new opportunities to include users’ participatory practices have taken different forms. For instance, they nowadays allow for convenient Facebook-liking and users linking blog posts to articles. They also spend both time and energy on making it easier for readers to get in touch with them in order to provide pictures, information, corrections, etc. Within this context of offering new, participatory opportunities to the previous “readers”, online newspapers have also come to adapt to and develop on one specifically salient strategy: To allow readers/users to comment on articles online. Media research has already paid attention to user comments as a participatory practice. These studies have typically looked into what technological features for participation that are offered and how they enable and limit users’ participatory practices (cf. Domingo et al., 2008; Hermida & Thurman, 2008). In this paper, we take on a slightly different approach. Firstly, the paper looks into the conditions for participation in terms of topics: What content are users allowed to comment on? How do content characteristics differ between news that are made available and news that are withheld from comments? After having mapped these conditions for participation we – secondly –analyze how users actually navigate within this (conditioned) space: What news are they interested in commenting on? How does commenting vary between different kinds of articles? These questions are answered by help of an analysis of 1.100 news items and their adjacent user interface in an online news site (affiliated with a professionally produced, local newspaper). In terms of methodology we apply quantitative content analysis. Our analysis reveals that the participatory space offered to the readers is geared towards light news, whereas users themselves have clear preferences for commenting news concerning changes in their local environment, about general national politics and welfare issues. The paper concludes with a discussion on potential explanations as to why this discrepancy exists and it also further reflects on its potential implications for users’ participatory practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. 28- p.
Keyword [en]
user generated content, participation, content analysis, users
National Category
Media and Communications Media Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25520OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-25520DiVA: diva2:776404
Conference
ECREA 5th European Communication Conference Lisboa 12-15 November
Available from: 2015-01-07 Created: 2015-01-07 Last updated: 2015-06-24Bibliographically approved

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