The Online Comment: A Case Study of Reader-Journalist-Editor Interactions
The comment boards of online news organizations allow readers the chance to hold the journalist more accountable than was the case in print media days through publicly posting feedback on the same page as the news story. While journalists self-report this greater accountability and interactivity with readers, current research lacks specific description and analysis of these interactions. Disparate perceptions of the purpose of the comment board among readers, journalists, and public editors become apparent through this case study, an analysis of reader comments on and journalistic and editorial responses to a breaking New York Times story. The study finds that readers tended to post feedback holding the publishing institution accountable, not necessarily the journalist. These results are important because better understanding how the comment board is perceived and utilized will help news organizations to attract and retain readers in the competitive world of online journalism.