1st Edition

Journalism, Online Comments, and the Future of Public Discourse

By Marie K. Shanahan Copyright 2018
    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    Comments on digital news stories and on social media play an increasingly important role in public discourse as more citizens communicate through online networks. The reasons for eliminating comments on news stories are plentiful. Off-topic posts and toxic commentary have been shown to undermine legitimate news reporting. Yet the proliferation of digital communication technology has revolutionized the setting for democratic participation. The digital exchange of ideas and opinions is now a vital component of the democratic landscape. Marie K. Shanahan's book argues that public digital discourse is crucial component of modern democracy—one that journalists must stop treating with indifference or detachment—and for news organizations to use journalistic rigor and better design to add value to citizens’ comments above the social layer. Through original interviews, anecdotes, field observations and summaries of research literature, Shanahan explains the obstacles of digital discourse as well as its promises for journalists in the digital age.

    Chapter 1 – Bystanders

    Chapter 2 – A Story Is a Promise of a Conversation

    Chapter 3 – Discourse Amid Discord

    Chapter 4 – What's Civility Got to Do with It?

    Chapter 5 – Contradictions of Anonymity

    Chapter 6 – Debugging Digital Discourse


    Marie K. Shanahan is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut. Her teaching and academic research focus on the intersection of journalism and interactive communication technology. She has been a journalist, online news producer and professional writer for more than 20 years. Her interest in the possibilities of interactive media led her away from an early career as print reporter at The Hartford Courant to the digital side of news, where she spent 13 years producing online news and dealing with comments on the web. Her academic work has been published by The Poynter Institute, Columbia Journalism Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Newsweek, Salon and The Conversation.