Nielsen examines whether anonymous online comments shape news content

Friday, April 11, 2014 - 10:09am

Carolyn Nielsen, associate professor in the Department of Journalism, had her article "Coproduction or cohabitation: Are anonymous online comments on newspaper websites shaping news content?" published in the May 2014 issue of New Media & Society.

The abstract begins:

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.