Introduction to Online Speech Space
Online mainstream moderated news comment sections developed in the UK as part of the technological, social and cultural changes that took place during and after the rise of the Internet. News organisations developed their own online blogspaces within which the public could comment, as a response to independent news blog sites being created using readily available, easy to use software. Whilst the interactive features on news websites were initially limited, recent research has shown that the amount of interactive features available to the public has grown exponentially in the last decade. To date, research in the online news context has centred on online journalism and professional journalistic practices, ‘citizen journalism’, ‘amateur’ and ‘professional-amateur’ journalism, newsblogs, war blogs, political discussion groups, audience participation and the online public sphere; research on online mainstream moderated news comment pages has yet to be forthcoming.
Mainstream British News Online Comment Forums
Mainstream news online comment forums are distinct from other forms of interactive communications such as blogs, as they represent a convergence between ‘old’ media, that is the traditional news outlet characterised by 'one-way' communication, and 'new' media, that is digital media characterised by 'two-way' communication. My research explores the new media ecology this convergence creates and offers a theoretically interesting addition to news and public affairs discourse. Some of the areas my research will explore include whether three British mainstream news online comment forums are capable of hosting an online public sphere by assessing the autonomy of contributors, the level of abuse (also called 'flaming') monpolisation by contributors in the forums and whether they can also control the agenda. An analysis of whether commenters post dogmatic assertions or provide criticiable validity claims to support their arguments is also undertaken. Thus, the comment forums are explored to analyse specific online public sphere theory criteria, with the addition of a Bakhtinian analysis of the interactive debates between contributors to assess how contributors articulate their views within public sphere discourse.
Assistant Professor Eric Jensen
University of Warwick
Tel: 024 7652 8427
Fax: 024 7652 3497
Professor Deborah Steinberg
University of Warwick