User Comments in Digital Journalism

Current research and future directions

Authored by: Thomas B. Ksiazek , Nina Springer

The Routledge Handbook of Developments in Digital Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138283053
eBook ISBN: 9781315270449
Adobe ISBN:


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User comments offer a unique opportunity for the public to participate in the news production process. Research suggests that in 2014 the vast majority – over 90% – of news websites offered the opportunity for users to comment on the news (Stroud et al., 2014). Commentary features allow for ‘annotative reporting’ by embedding users’ viewpoints, experiences, or expertise within an article’s context, providing readers with additional information to form opinions (e.g., Bowman and Willis, 2003), which can potentially enhance deliberative processes. However, these normative standards aren’t always met in practice: empirical research shows that user commentary tends to be shallow and uncivil, which is why some online publishers have recently banned user comments from their websites, either closing down comment sections altogether or shifting comments to third-party social media platforms.

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