A Tale of Two Stories from “Below the Line”: Comment Fields at the Guardian

Todd Graham, Scott Wright

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    73 Citations (Scopus)
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    This article analyses the nature of debate on “below the line” comment fields at the UK’s Guardian, and how, if at all, such debates are impacting journalism practice. The article combines a content analysis of 3792 comments across 85 articles that focused on the UN Climate Change Summit, with 10 interviews with journalists, 2 with affiliated commentators, plus the community manager. The results suggest a more positive picture than has been found by many existing studies: debates were often deliberative in nature and journalists reported that it was positively impacting their practice in several ways, including providing new story leads and enhanced critical reflection. However, citizen-journalist debate was limited. The results are attributed to the normalization of comment fields into everyday journalism practice, extensive support and encouragement from senior management, and a realization that comment fields can actually make the journalists’ life a little easier.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)317-338
    Number of pages22
    JournalThe International Journal of Press/Politics
    Issue number3
    Early online date23-Apr-2015
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • comment fields
    • climate change
    • Guardian
    • journalism practice
    • public sphere
    • readers' comments
    • UGC
    • journalism
    • Online Journalism
    • journalism studies
    • Digital Journalism
    • News Reporting
    • User-Generated Content
    • Participatory Journalism
    • audience studies
    • E-Democracy
    • Journalistiek
    • Online News
    • Citizen Journalism
    • New Media
    • Mass communications
    • Political Communication

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