INTERDEPENDENCE AND INTERVENTION: NEWS ORGANIZATIONS’ CONTRADICTORY RELATIONSHIP WITH ONLINE COMMENTS

Authors

  • Anna Rantasila Tampere University, Finland
  • Heli Väätäjä Lapland University of Applied Sciences, Finland
  • Joel Kiskola Tampere University, Finland
  • Thomas Olsson Tampere University, Finland
  • Aleksi Syrjämäki Tampere University, Finland
  • Mirja Ilves Tampere University, Finland
  • Poika Isokoski Tampere University, Finland
  • Veikko Surakka Tampere University, Finland

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2021i0.12231

Keywords:

moderation, commenting, news, journalism, algorithms

Abstract

Online news comments are intended to cultivate an interdependent relationship between news organizations and their audiences. However, uncivil online comments have become a persistent problem that requires constant intervention through moderation. In this paper, to better understand these interventions, we analyze interviews of eleven managers of online comments of large Finnish news organizations. By exploring the views of journalistic managers of moderation, this study contributes new insights to the discussion about online content moderation, as previous research has focused more on social media platforms and moderators. Our results suggest that the managers have a complex relationship with comments. They would like to see more engaging comments but were also frustrated with the continuous need to moderate the comments. The managers also expressed concern that uncivil comments keep more constructive commenters from participating, thus harming the audience relationship. Organizations tend to outsource moderation to third parties or automated moderation, as moderation is often seen as time-consuming and outside of the core work of journalists. However, the managers were not satisfied with outsourced or automated moderation, mainly because of a lack in contextual knowledge, as also noted in previous research. Reflecting previous literature, our results suggest that some aspects of uncivil commenting may require alternative approaches to moderation altogether. For example, some managers suggested replacing comments with other means of interaction. To address the inherent contradictions in online news comment moderation, we advocate a view that focuses on cultivating and rewarding civil comments instead of deleting and punishing for uncivil comments.

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Published

2021-09-15

How to Cite

Rantasila, A., Väätäjä, H., Kiskola, J., Olsson, T., Syrjämäki, A., Ilves, M., Isokoski, P., & Surakka, V. (2021). INTERDEPENDENCE AND INTERVENTION: NEWS ORGANIZATIONS’ CONTRADICTORY RELATIONSHIP WITH ONLINE COMMENTS. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2021i0.12231

Issue

Section

Papers R