Annika Sehl

27Journalism, Audiences and Community Engagement

Abstract: Recent technological, but also societal and organizational changes have significantly changed the relationship between journalism and its audience. In the digital space, news organizations are no longer the gatekeepers but share the space with others, such as bloggers or social media participants. This means a power shift away from a passive audience to a more actively engaged one in an environment where professionals and the audience interact in new ways. This chapter discusses how journalists are thinking about audience participation in journalism and the opportunities they are offering their audiences to participate in the news production process. This development has led to a number of publications suggesting that many journalists have concerns about opening up to the audience because of how they view their professional role. Nevertheless, audience participation in journalism has been widely taken up within the news media, even if it is usually limited and not all possible ways of participation are being used. In fact, studies on the audience perspective have indicated that only a small part of the audience is willing to participate. In the beginning, news organizations focused on their own websites and building up communities there, but today social networking sites, such as Facebook, are important platforms for the media to distribute their news and interact with their audience.

Keywords: audience participation, citizen journalism, participatory journalism, user-generated content


The relationship between journalists and audience members has changed significantly in digital journalism. One major aspect is the existence of new opportunities for the audience to participate in the news production process. Technological innovations are facilitating exchange between media professionals and their audience. This is despite professional journalism only reluctantly introduced participatory features (Paulussen et al. 2007; Paulussen & Ugille 2008; Singer 2010) and, in general, only a limited number of audience members are playing an active role online (K. Heinonen 2011). This chapter outlines the power shift from a passive audience to a more actively engaged one in an environment where professionals and the audience interact in new ways. In this way, it focuses on the role of the audience in the news production process.

While many different terms have been used in the literature (see, e.g., Deuze, Bruns & Neuberger 2007), this chapter will utilise the term “participatory journalism” to describe audience participation in the news production process. The term participatory journalism in contrast to, for example, citizen journalism highlights the focus on audience participation in news production within the institutional context of professional journalism. This is an important differentiation, since in participatory journalism, institutional journalism defines the frame and sets the rules.

Most research on audience participation in journalism focuses mainly on either the editorial or the audience perspective. For example, a number of studies have explored the participatory features of news websites (e.g., Domingo et al. 2008; Örnebring 2008; Thurman 2008; De Keyser & Sehl 2011; Lilienthal et al. 2014). Several others have dealt with the different aspects of the editorial process and how user-generated content (UGC) is managed (e.g., Harrison 2010; Singer 2010; Binns 2012). Research on the participating audience (in an editorial context and beyond) focuses mainly on the characteristics of users and the content they contribute (e.g., Fröhlich, Quiring & Engesser 2012; Kalogeropoulos et al. 2017). Only a few studies consider both perspectives in their theoretical and/or empirical conceptualization (e.g., Wardle & Williams 2008; Loosen & Schmidt 2012; Heise et al. 2014; Bergström & Wadbring 2015). While this chapter will include a few studies from the audience perspective, the focus will be placed on the editorial perspective.

The outline of the chapter is as follows. First, the chapter discusses the role of the audience as community members and the role journalism plays in the formation of those communities. Thus, it also goes back to the origins of the public journalism movement in the United States in the early 1990s. Following this, the concept of participatory journalism is demarcated in order to set the frame for the further analysis of audience participation in the news production process. Participation in journalism is then discussed from a historical perspective and is shown to have existed for much longer than is usually assumed. Studies of the participatory features on news websites are presented, and the use of these features by the audience is discussed. Following this are discussions of how newsrooms manage audience participation and the development of audience participation and the development of audience participation in recent years. The conclusion offers a summation of the key points uncovered.

2Journalism and community

Even before the rise of digital journalism, in the early 1990s, a small number of US journalists and scholars considered reforming the relationship between the public and the press. The catalyst for this was a “widespread disgust with American politics and with the press itself” (Carey 1999: 60) following the 1988 election. The “movement” (Rosen 1994: 378) became known as public or civic journalism. It took the perspective that, rather than being mere observers, journalists should act as advocates for public life by listening to people in the community and covering issues that concern that community (Glasser 1999; Rosen 1999). Rosen (1993: 3) summarized the aim as follows:

Taken together, these propositions amount to a revised public philosophy for daily journalism. Reporting fairly and accurately on the day’s events, holding government accountable for its actions, analyzing and commenting on public affairs – to these traditional notions can be added a less familiar but equally important idea: that journalists must play an active role in supporting civic involvement, improving discourse and debate, and creating a climate in which the affairs of the community earn their claim on the citizen’s time and attention.

The idea of journalists advocating community issues instigated concerns about the objectivity and neutrality of journalism (Lünenborg 2000: 71). However, Rosen, one of the founding fathers of the public or civic journalism movement, described the position of the journalist in public journalism as “proactive neutrality” (Rosen 1996: 13) in service of the community. Seen in this light public journalism is partly criticizing traditional journalism. This is because it does not understand itself as substitutive: “Public journalism is additive.” (Merritt 1995: 114)

Today, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide new ways for people to consume news, but also provide a forum for interaction and exchange between journalists and the audience. This development has been addressed, for example, in the text Public Journalism 2.0: The Promise and Reality of a Citizen Engaged Press, edited by Rosenberry and St John III (2010). A multinational interview study on journalists’ relationships with users in the digital age shows three different professional assessments of users by journalists beyond those relating to participating in the news-making process. While the journalists’ assessments recognized the potential of journalism in forming diverse communities, not all are civic-oriented viewpoints:

Communities of costumers”: This perception sees “audience members […] as part of a revenue source whose loyalty is crucial for the success of the media enterprise. From this perspective, users belong to a costumer community, an essential collective that deserves to be acknowledged by the professionals.” (A. Heinonen 2011: 45)

Communities of peers”: This conceptualization instead “relates to the users’ roles as members of a peer community. In peer communities, users take on a collective role as people who engage with a particular media product, and participatory journalism provides a mechanism for enacting that role.” (A. Heinonen 2011: 45)

Civic communities”: Related to the view that users are members of communities of peers is the perception of users as members of civic communities. In this category, “the news organization provides a ‘community center’ whose members are its users”. This is similar to the idea in public journalism that “[s]eeing their users as civic community members requires that journalists accept the idea of socially involved journalistic enterprises.” (A. Heinonen 2011: 46)

Although only one of these three perceptions is clearly related to civic engagement, they all show the potential for community engagement in a digital media environment. Likewise, Napoli (2011: 95) argues, for journalism as well as more broadly with respect to business models, that “the concept of engagement has moved from the periphery to the center of how media organizations and advertisers are thinking about audiences”.

In theoretical terms, Lewis, Holton, and Coddington (2014) frame the stronger exchange between journalists and the audience and community-building in terms of a “reciprocal journalism”: “It situates journalists as community-builders who, particularly in online spaces, might more readily catalyze patterns of reciprocal exchange – directly with readers, indirectly among community members, and repeatedly over time – that, in turn, may contribute to the development of greater trust, connectedness, and social capital.” (Lewis, Holton & Coddington 2014: 229) However, the authors make very clear that such a reciprocal relationship between the journalists and the audience must grow over time and is different from much of what counts as audience participation in journalism on the surface today (Lewis, Holton & Coddington 2014: 232).

While community building does not necessarily depend on a social network infrastructure, they have facilitated exchange. In this respect, many news organizations try to connect with their users on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter (Sehl, Cornia & Nielsen 2016). In fewer cases, the news outlets even seek to build online communities, based around the exchange of ideas, on their websites (Lilienthal et al. 2014).

3Audience participation in journalism

3.1Participatory journalism: a definition

While the previous chapter was concerned with journalism produced by journalists in the service of the community, this chapter focuses on content produced by audiences themselves. It initially defines participatory journalism in order to set the framework for further analysis of audience participation in the news production process. This seems necessary since many terms have been used to describe audience participation in journalism in recent years, such as “produsage” (Bruns 2005), “user-generated content” (Harrison 2010), or “citizen journalism” (Outing 2005). The term “participatory journalism” (Bowman & Willis 2003; Singer et al. 2011), used by other scholars, will also feature here.

Engesser states that participatory journalism integrates users in the process of content production and enables their active participation in the public sphere created by news media (Engesser 2008: 66). Engesser’s definition is relatively broad and so also includes what Nip (2006) understands to be web-based citizen journalism. Nip developed a typology of five models of audience connections and differentiates, among others, between participatory journalism and web-based citizen journalism. Following his typology, participatory journalism is defined as “user contribution […] solicited within a frame designed by the professionals” (Nip 2006: 217). In contrast, web-based citizen journalism is characterized as when “the people are responsible for gathering content, visioning, producing and publishing the news product” (Nip 2006: 218); in this way, they can decide independently from a professional editorial office what is published.

The definitions given in the literature stress a further aspect of participatory journalism, namely, that readers can participate in a number of different media formats (Lasica 2003; Outing 2005). Lasica (2003) differentiates between six categories of audience participation in online journalism. Two of these describe formats that integrate professional and participatory formats. The category “audience participation in mainstream news outlets” includes “staff weblogs” that users can comment on. “Newsroom-sanctioned weblogs written by outsiders”, “discussion forums”, “articles written by readers”, “photos, video and reports sent in by readers”, and “other reader contributions” complete the six. The other relevant category is “full-fledged participatory news sites”. Outing (2005) provides 11 “layers of citizen journalism”, 10 of which are media formats at the cutting edge of professional and participatory online formats. These include: “opening up to public comments”, “the citizen add-on reporter”, “open-source reporting”, “the citizen bloghouse”, “newsroom citizen ‘transparency’ blogs”, “the stand-alone citizen-journalism site: edited version”, “the stand-alone citizen-journalism site: unedited version”, “add a print version”, “the hybrid: pro + citizen journalism”, and “integration of citizen- and pro journalism under one roof”. These systematization are already over 10 years old and therefore did not consider social networking sites that are relevant to today’s understanding of user interactions (e.g., Hille & Bakker 2013; Neuberger, Langenohl & Nuernbergk 2014). In addition, Domingo et al. (2008) suggest to differentiate the news production process into stages in which the audience can be integrated: “[a]ccess and observation”, “[s]election/[f]iltering”, “[p]rocessing/[e]diting”, and “[d]istribution” up to the “[i]nterpretation” of the news after it has been published (Domingo et al. 2008: 333).

For the purposes of this chapter, participatory journalism occurs when the audience is integrated into the production of content, or editorial processes, under the umbrella of a professional media institution. Professional journalists are still the ones who decide what to publish and who sets the rules for participation. This is an important differentiation to citizen journalism, as the audience is seen to only support, enhance, or comment on their work. In this respect, the applications of participatory journalism are many and diverse (see also Sehl 2013: 71–94).

3.2The democratic potential of audience participation in journalism

Given such a definition, participatory journalism can be embedded into the theory of deliberative democracy (Habermas [1962] 1990, 1998) and to discursive journalism (Brosda 2008). Deliberative democracy rests on the core notion of citizens and their representatives deliberating on public problems. Journalistic mass media thereby has the function to provide an infrastructure that enables public deliberation in differentiated societies. From a normative point of view, participatory journalism seems to be particularly appropriate here as it opens up the discussion to audience members.

How the normative ideal is reflected in reality is not clearly evident from the literature. A study by Graham and Wright (2015) addressed the question of deliberation by exploring the actual use of the comment fields, by readers and journalists of The Guardian. Their content analysis of readers’ comments from articles on the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen was combined with interviews with the contributing journalists. The findings show that debates were often deliberate: “Discussions were typically rational, critical, coherent, reciprocal and civil.” (Graham & Wright 2015: 332) While the authors did not collect data on the background and political views of the participating users, they conclude from the debate that the participants held a wide range of political views and brought them into the discussion. The authors see this as an important difference from many online political discussion spaces. For political discussion forums, Freelon (2010) found, in a systematic review of the literature, more empirical evidence for a monologist culture of discussion than for a deliberative one.

Ruiz et al. (2011) also explored the deliberative potential of audience participation in an professional institutional journalistic context. The sample consisted of more than 15,000 comments from online versions of five national newspapers from different political and journalistic contexts (The Guardian, Le Monde, The New York Times, El País, and La Repubblica). By analyzing their ethical guidelines and legal frameworks, as well as their moderation strategies, the authors identified two models of audience participation: One model is “where communities of debate are formed based on mostly respectful discussions between diverse points view”. The other model is characterized by “homogenous communities, in which expressing feelings about current events dominates the contributions and there is less of an argumentative debate” (Ruiz et al. 2011: 463, emphasis in the original).

Finally, Rowe (2015) compared in a content analysis the discursive quality of user comments left on the website of the Washington Post with those users wrote on the organizations’ Facebook page on the same political news. He found that comments written by users of the website were of greater deliberative quality than those left by Facebook users.

In sum, the findings of the studies suggest that the culture of discussion in online-comments on news websites is not random, but newsrooms have a certain degree of influence on the quality of the discourse in the way they design and moderate it. Furthermore, there are hints that the quality of discussion differs between the websites and the social media pages of news organizations.

3.3Early forms of audience participation in journalism

Audience participation in journalism has a much longer tradition than is generally recognized within discussions on developments of the social web. In England, for example, reader participation dates back to the 18th century when newspapers left unprinted space on the third page for readers to add comments before passing the newspaper on to someone else (Hermida 2011: 13). In Germany, early forays to enable readers to contribute to newspapers date back to the 19th century. Readers provided extracts on topical or ethical content to the local reporting of newspapers (Schönhagen 1995).

With the professionalization of journalism, these early attempts at audience participation came to an end. Newspapers were completed with content authored solely by professional journalists (Hermida 2011: 13–14). An exception is the traditional letter to the editor that also has a long history in many countries but is still alive today (Wahl-Jorgensen 2007). In radio, audience participation dates back to “radio town meetings” in the US in the 1930s (Sterling & Kittross 1978: 181). The first “phone-in” programs were broadcast in England (Burger 1991: 358–359).

Apart from these examples, audience participation also included formats completely produced by citizens such as community radios in the US (Lamberty 1988), open channels (e.g., Walendy 1993), or the underground press or alternative press (e.g., Büteführ 1993). All of these examples had one element in common: their aim was always to fill the gaps left by professional reporting (e.g., where a wider array of topics, actors, or opinions were covered).

Although these examples show that audience participation in journalism has a long history, it has reached a new dimension in recent years. New communication technologies have enabled almost anybody to publish content on the web for a potentially global audience (e.g., in blogs or on social networking sites), though much of this content is not necessarily related to the news. Nevertheless, news content generated by the audience is being published also independent from legacy media, which has in effect lost its role as news gatekeepers on the Internet (Bruns 2005). As a response to this web-based citizen journalism, the professional media has reacted by offering similar tools through which their audiences can participate (Singer et al. 2011).

3.4Motives and reservations of newsrooms in enabling audience participation

This section will describe the motives of editorial offices. It focuses on why these offices offer participatory features and enable user participation while reviewing their reservation and concerns. Paulussen et al. state in an article on four European countries that economic expectations are the main reasons why professional media organizations offer participatory features on their websites: “Marketing and business strategies somehow push for the exploration of such proposals.” (Paulussen et al. 2007: 131) A correlated study by Vujnovic et al. (2010) on eight European countries, the US, and Canada, found three branding and economic strategies seen around the world: strategies to build loyalty, to increase website traffic and, by media managers in smaller countries, to save costs.

Jönsson and Örnebring conducted a content analysis of 10 Swedish and British tabloid and broadsheet newspapers. Supporting the aforementioned findings, they come to the conclusion that participatory journalism is clearly driven by economic motives: “UGC provision in mainstream media to a great extent addresses users-as-consumers and is part of a context of consumption.” (Jönsson & Örnebring 2011: 127)

While these studies assert that economic expectations leed to integrate participatory features on news websites, Paulussen et al. (2007) found that the professional journalistic culture is a factor that slows down the process. In a further study, Paulussen and Ugille explored editorial context factors in depth. They conducted semi-structured interviews with editorial employees (editorial management, IT staff, editorial staff) of two Belgian newspapers and a citizen journalism website, observing the working processes. Their findings show that participatory features were not rapidly integrated into professional journalism: “This is because adoption processes in newsrooms are not just triggered by ‘technological’ developments (such as the innovations that enable users to produce content themselves), but they are also shaped by the broader professional, organisational, economic and social context of the news production process.” (Paulussen & Ugille 2008: 37) This study revealed the following hindering factors: a hierarchical structure in the newsrooms exists, a work division between print and online journalists, between technical and editorial staff, and between journalists and readers/users. “In such an environment, it is difficult to establish a culture of interactivity and participation.” (Paulussen & Ugille 2008: 37) Apart from this, Paulussen and Ugille identified skepticism on part of the journalists regarding newly introduced technological innovations. These results suggest that high work and time pressure led to work routines and encourage journalists to rely on traditional sources (such as news agencies), with which they were already familiar. All interviewed journalists emphasized that the moderation of the dialogue and the proper selection of contributions, are crucial to maintaining the quality of the publication because “concerns are raised about the low newsworthiness, the personal tone and the subjective bias of user contributions” (Paulussen & Ugille 2008: 38).

Consistent with these findings, Singer’s (2010) survey of British local newspapers journalists found that many fear user-generated content could fall below professional norms in cases where a material is not controlled and selected properly. However, this was not seen as possible by the interviewed journalists from the background of their workload. “The number and nature of those contributions, coupled with what is universally seen as inadequate newsroom resources to handle them, is creating considerable anxiety.” (Singer 2010: 138) Apart from that lack of resources, many of the journalists evaluated user contributions as an additional source of information and opinions, and not as a replacement for professional local journalism.

In a multi-method case study of the German television news bulletin Tagesschau and its online presentation, Heise et al. (2014) explored the motivation of the audience to participate. The study compared the assumed and actual motivations for audience participation by journalists and audience members. The difference between assumed and actual motivations is what was termed “inclusion distance” (Heise et al. 2014: 414). The empirical findings suggest some large differences between the motivations assumed by journalists and the audience members’ actual motivations to participate. This however is not always the case. For instance, a survey and series of interviews in the same study show that the journalists assumed that their audience’s main motivation for participation was “to state their opinion publicly”. This was also an important motivation for the audience. Thus, here the inclusion distance between journalists and audience was comparatively small. It grew, however, with the presence of another important perceived motivation from the journalists’ perspective: “to vent anger and frustration”. In actuality, the audience largely rejected this motivation (as Heise et al. noted, possibly due to social desirability). Furthermore, journalists assumed that “to point out errors in news stories” is an important motivation of the participating audience. The respondents of the survey moderately agreed. However, the audience members also stated that “to expand their knowledge by interacting with journalists and other viewers/users” was also an important motive. The journalists did not assume this. Instead, “[t]o propose certain topics which are important to me” was a motivation for audience members that journalists also assumed this way (Heise et al. 2014: 419–422).

It must be noted that there is also a number of studies on motives for commenting on news websites and/or social media sites from the audience perspective only (e.g., Weber 2014; Springer, Engelmann & Pfaffinger 2015), commentators characteristics (e.g., Kalogeropoulos et al. 2017) or the dynamics of online news discussions (Ziegele et al. 2017) that are not in the focus of this chapter.

3.5Features and forms of audience participation and how they are used

This section outlines the structural characteristics of audience participation on new media websites (over time). In fact, how the audience participates and to what extent it does is a decision by the institutional media. It also discusses how certain features are used by the audience.

One of the earliest studies on the participatory features on news media websites is that by Domingo et al. (2008). An international research team analyzed the status quo, as of 2007, among 16 leading news organizations in eight European countries (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, the UK, Croatia, and Slovenia) and in the US. In methodological terms, the team did so by using an analytical grid that follows the logic of news production stages from “[a]ccess and observation”, “[s]election/[f]iltering”, “[p]rocessing/[e]diting”, and “[d]istribution” up to the “[i]nterpretation” of the news after it has been published (Domingo et al. 2008: 333). The findings show that the news organizations at that time limited users to the role of commentators on professionally produced content: “ […] news organisations are interpreting online user participation mainly as an opportunity for their readers to debate current events, while other stages of the news production process are closed to citizen involvement or controlled by professional journalists when participation is allowed.” (Domingo et al. 2008: 326)

Several studies on Germany were found. Neuberger, Nuernbergk, and Rischke (2009) conducted a survey of 183 heads of online at print and broadcasting media as well as Internet-only media in the same year as the aforementioned study. They arrived at a similar result on the early phase of audience participation in news media websites. While three quarters offered their users at least one option to participate at that time, these were mostly features that limited the users to the role of commentator (Neuberger, Nuernbergk & Rischke 2009: 282–283). The limitation to feedback functions is also found in a content analysis of 129 German newspaper websites in 2008 (Sehl 2013: 195), as well as in a content analysis of 270 German media websites in 2013 (print, broadcasting, and Internet-only media) in 2013 (Lilienthal et al. 2014: 53–82).

A longitudinal content analysis of four major Swedish mainstream national news website between 2005 and 2009 found a similar result: Users were largely permitted only to comment on professionally produced and already-published content (Karlsson 2011).

More recently, Neuberger, Langenohl, and Nuernbergk (2014) published a survey on social media and journalism in Germany. They interviewed 105 editors of the news websites of legacy media and Internet-only media in 2014. They found that over half of the editorial offices had more than five Facebook accounts, a little more than one third had more than five Twitter accounts, and about one third operated more than five blogs. However, about one quarter of the editorial offices had no blog and no presence on YouTube. Ninety-five percent had at least one Twitter account, and they all had a Facebook account (Neuberger, Langenohl & Nuernbergk 2014: 43–44).

Hille and Bakker (2013) examined closely how Dutch news media are using Facebook as a platform for distribution and user interaction. Referring to Nip’s typology (2006) presented previously, the authors found that the use of Facebook did not correspond to the definition of participatory journalism nor citizen journalism but was “a hybrid format because part of the interaction takes place on the media website or the Facebook page of a medium, while another part is only visible on the Facebook profile page of the individual user and is shared with his or her Facebook friends” (Hille & Bakker 2013: 664). Hille and Bakker conducted quantitative and qualitative research in 2011–2012 to investigate 64 Dutch media, including all Dutch national and regional daily newspapers, news magazines, most of the national news (public television) programs, broadcasters, regional broadcasters, and the most important independent news site at that time. They coded in a content analysis as to whether these 64 news media used Facebook buttons on their website to invite users to like, share, or comment. Furthermore, Hille and Bakker examined the presence of these media on Facebook and the range of their activities. Ten of the 64 media were analyzed in depth, with a special focus on how users are interacting on the platform. The findings show that the offline and online presence of legacy media did not predict newsrooms’ activities on Facebook. While almost all Dutch news websites analyzed had a Facebook fan page, and a large majority used the “like” and “share” buttons on their news website, the authors found no clear strategy of news media on using Facebook:

There are substantial differences in how basic Facebook features are used, even when media from the same publisher are compared, suggesting that there is no clear (company) strategy on using Facebook. Some media do have some features but do not seem to use them, another group hardly publishes updates, while some media use automated updating – in all of these cases there does not seem to be an active strategy in using Facebook. Also the fact that only two media (Hart van Nederland and RTV Rijnmond) take the effort to respond to the audience after they have made a comment and only a few media ask for interaction, suggests a rather passive strategy (Hille & Bakker 2013: 677).

The study suggests that news media at the time of the study underperformed on Facebook by only distributing content and ignoring possibilities for audience interaction. Therefore, Hille and Bakker conclude that “‘audience distribution’ would be a better term to describe these practices than ‘audience participation’” (Hille & Bakker 2013: 663).

Further studies focused less on the actual features offered but more on the content produced. Harrison (2010) conducted an observational study of the way the BBC deals with user-generated content at its UGC hub (for UGC at the BBC see also Belair-Gagnon 2015). Harrison identified four types of audience participation at the BBC (Harrison 2010: 244–247, emphasis by A. S.):

  1. UGC as a form of unsolicited news story”: In this respect, UGC can break or extend a news story, e.g., with topic suggestions or witness material. The news story is then followed up by journalists.
  2. UGC as a form of solicited content for specific extant news stories”: This form of UGC is universally used by news journalists to enhance a news story, e.g., by finding additional contacts and sources for a story. For this purpose, the BBC also cultivates a database with relevant contacts from its viewers/listeners/online users by encouraging them to contact the BBC.
  3. UGC as a form of expeditious content for specific items and features”: Here, UGC is used as a forward-planning routine by the BBC to enhance stories in the future, e.g., by crowdsourcing for information or material.
  4. UGC as a form of audience watchdog content”: This form of audience participation means the audience reacts to a particular news story mostly by contacting the BBC to complain and influence the reporting.

Although the study describes how user-generated content was moderated by the BBC hub and how gatekeeping barriers have evolved to ensure BBC news values, it ends with a perspective that the use of user-generated content at the BBC could possibly lead to an increase of soft news.

A study on audience participation on British and Swedish news websites points to a similar direction. Jönsson and Örnebring (2011) examined the degree of participation and type of content produced by the audience. They conducted a content analysis of the online versions of major broadsheets and tabloids in the UK and Sweden, particularly three broadsheets and two tabloids in each country. All UGC features in the online versions of the newspapers were coded during one week in 2008. Concerning the degree of participation, Jönsson and Örnebring differentiated between three levels: a low level of participation, mainly addressing audience members as consumers (e.g., through RSS feed, grading, marking); a medium level of participation, which addresses audience members as consumers and producers (e.g., through comment functions, e-mail, solicited content); and a high level of participation, which addresses audience members as producers (e.g., through forums, blogs, and other non-solicited content). Regarding the type of content, the authors differentiated between three types of content that users can create: information-oriented content, entertainment/popular culture-oriented content, and personal/social/expressive-oriented content. Their findings show that users were mostly motivated to participate in creating popular culture-oriented content and personal/everyday life-oriented content rather than news/informational content. The authors conclude the following: “UGC in mainstream news media so far has only limited implications for the role of the citizen in the political public sphere. Participation and interaction are mainly going on in the cultural public sphere and the private sphere.” (Jönsson & Örnebring 2011: 140)

Consequently, they argue that audience participation in mainstream news media follows a logic of political economy. This finding addresses, to a great extent, users-as-consumers and thereby refers more to consumption than to production: “[...] UGC often works as a self-legitimization tool for news organizations. To frame UGC as a democratic tool could be a branding strategy for creating and upholding a close relationship to the audience. Users are identified as consumers but approached as citizens.” (Jönsson & Örnebring 2011: 141, emphasis in the original)

Boczkowski and Mitchelstein (2012) examined the thematic composition of the most clicked, most e-mailed, and most commented stories during periods of heightened and routine political activity on three main US legacy media websites associated with news (CNN, USA Today, and Washington Post). Data were collected in two waves – during a period of heightened political activity in 2008 (68 days during 15 weeks) and during one period with normal political activity in 2009 (14 days). For each data collection day, the most clicked, most e-mailed, and most commented stories displayed on each of these sites were coded. A story was identified whether it was a public affairs story, meaning news about politics, government, economics, business, or international affairs, or whether it was a nonpublic affairs story, meaning news on sports, crime, entertainment, technology, or the weather. The findings show that the most commented stories were more likely to be focused on public affairs news than the most clicked and most e-mailed articles. Furthermore, the presence of public affairs stories in all three types of interactivities was also greater during the period of heightened political activity than during its routine counterpart. Finally, the thematic composition of the stories showed significant dynamism over the period of heightened political activity; the likelihood that users click on, e-mail, or comment on public affairs stories increased during this period.

To identify patterns and predict the use of audience participation in online newspapers was the aim of a study by Chung (2008). She conducted an online survey of 542 respondents in a medium-sized Midwestern city in the US. In a factor analysis, Chung identified the following four categories of interactive features: human/medium interactive features (e.g., ‘‘submit stories’’ function), medium/human interactive features (e.g., customized topics), human interactive features (e.g., chat functions), and medium interactive features (e.g., audio files). The findings point out that interactive features are generally used infrequently by users, especially human interactive features. Regression analyses show that different user characteristics and backgrounds predict the use of specific types of interactive features. Therefore, Chung concludes that no harm exists for new organizations to offer a wide variety of interactive features: “This study illustrates that news organizations need not worry about applying all types of interactive features to engage their readers as the features serve distinct functions. Instead, news organizations should focus on building credibility and may seek to identify their online news audiences and then subsequently provide interactive features accordingly.” (Chung 2008: 658)

The development of participatory features offered by news media and the audience’s willingness to participate over time are discussed below.

3.6Managing audience participation

Audience participation has also challenged professional journalism to seek appropriate solutions to manage user contributions. Domingo (2011) identified two general approaches: “participatory journalism as playground” versus “participatory journalism as source” (Domingo 2011: 86).

The first strategy is characterized by media that create a separate section or even a website for audience participation, and such is clearly separated from professionally produced journalistic content and beyond just news story comments. Dedicated staff manage these sections or websites with little or no collaboration with the journalists producing the actual news.

The second strategy is integrating audience participation into existing newsroom practices. The aim of this approach is to use the material as a source for news production. In this approach, journalists themselves engage in the dialogue with users to gather information. By moderation and fact-checking, newsrooms try to maintain journalistic standards. Domingo further describes that in both strategies – playground and source – journalists are basically protected from most of the management of user contributions. In general, most newspapers that the author explored introduced specific participation units and limited the involvement of news journalists to specific tasks: “For instance, reporters might be urged to develop stories out of user tips but not asked to do the initial work of sorting the newsworthy tips from all those received every day.” (Domingo 2011: 89)

In general, two different approaches for moderation exists: pre- and post-moderation (e.g., Harrison 2010: 250; Domingo 2011: 83; Lilienthal et al. 2014: 213–214). Pre-moderation means that a material can only be seen by other users when the moderator of a website has seen it and decided that it is suitable for posting. This is often done for contentious issues. Post-moderation means that the moderation occurs only after a material has been posted, and other users have been able to see it. The moderator then decides if the material is suitable enough and can stay on the website. In this way, post-moderation is reactive and most suitable for groups and discussions that are not likely to fall into an aggressive tone. Beyond that, Robinson (2010) identified in ethnographic work in the US two approaches to comment moderation: the “traditionalist” and the “convergent” approach. The “traditionalists” try to maintain a hierarchal relationship between journalists and audiences (e.g. by applying pre- and postmoderation), while the “convergers” are more open to discursive forms of content moderation. In general, appropriate moderation is seen as necessary, especially as Prochazka, Weber and Schweiger (2018) found in an experiment that incivility in comments also had a negative effect on the perceived formal quality of an article. Instead, unreasoned comments decreased the perceived informational quality of an article only in cases where the news brand was unknown.

Apart from this routine moderation of user contributions, Domingo (2011: 89–91) highlights four best practices of news media in managing user-generated content:

  1. To highlight users’ contributions: Journalists select newsworthy and high-quality audience contributions for prominent publication in the website or the print product. This way, the newsroom aims to encourage audience participation and increase the quality of contributions.
  2. To curate and coach: This approach to manage user-generated content focuses on highlighting the best instead of deleting the worst of users’ contributions to enable effective management.
  3. To provide a systematic oversight and direct interaction: To provide a systematic oversight of user contributions, newsrooms develop dedicated tools that deal with audience contributions. The aim is to manage and use a material efficiently. Another example found was the direct interaction of journalists with the audience in additional spaces.

Domingo also mentions the task of some audience participation managers to “evangelize the newsroom into a dialogical attitude towards users” (Domingo 2011: 91).

How user-generated content is managed at the BBC at its UGC hub is the focus of an observational study by Harrison (2010). In accordance with the research of Domingo, the study found that user contributions were routinely moderated by dedicated staff. Furthermore, it revealed that traditional gatekeeping has evolved over time for user-generated content used in journalistic articles to ensure that BBC news values are upheld. All materials, such as information and pictures, were carefully checked by a member of the UGC hub (Harrison 2010: 252).

In line with these findings is that of the aforementioned study by Singer (2010). She also found that journalists emphasize the necessity of gatekeeping. Through this process, they try to ensure journalistic norms and values. However, as mentioned previously, they worry that newsrooms do not have enough resources to control the quality of user-generated content.

Apart from the management of audience participation by dedicated persons or teams for this task, some media also rely on voting and/or moderation by users (Domingo 2011: 92; Lilienthal et al. 2014: 114, 117). In the first case, users can vote on the comments made by other users to highlight best-liked content. In the second case, users are allowed to post-moderate abuse of participation by other users.

3.7Development of audience participation

The previous sections have shown that many news organizations are reluctant to allow audience participation (Domingo et al. 2008; Sehl 2013; Bergström & Wadbring 2015) because of concerns related to resources (Thurman 2008; Singer 2010) and the professional role of journalism (Hermida & Thurman 2008; Paulussen & Ugille 2008; Singer 2010).

However, most of the studies on participatory journalism are cross-sectional studies. Almost no longitudinal studies on how participatory journalism has developed have been conducted. An exception is that of Karlsson et al. (2015). Their study examined the long-term viability (2007–2013) of participatory journalism in Sweden in terms of the features offered and the users using them. Specifically, the authors analyzed to what extent news media allowed comments and blog links in news items, and they investigated the usage of these options from a user perspective. The quantitative content analysis included the four largest national news sites in Sweden (the news websites to national newspapers). Data were gathered during an eight-week period each year. News commenting and blog writing among the audience were captured for the same years from the Swedish national society, opinion, and media surveys. The findings show that the inclusion of comments and blog links on news sites increased from 2007 to 2010. After that, they decreased clearly. The results also indicate that posting user comments or writing blogs have never been widespread activities. Therefore, Karlsson et al. point to the reluctance of professional journalism to include the audience, as well as the lack of willingness to participate on the users’ side:

Overall, we conclude that these data from Sweden indicate that participatory journalism, at least in terms of blog links and comments, is on the decline and, for that matter, has previously been given more value by editors and academics than by the citizens allegedly empowered by this phenomenon. Consequently, we see these results as an indicator that there is no major shift in how power is being distributed or how deliberation takes place in the context of news and journalism. This is not only a problem of producers letting go of control but also, more importantly, a lack of interest, for whatever reason, from users (Karlsson et al. 2015: 305).

However, the study is limited in that it only examined Sweden, and only two options of participation were included. For example, social networking sites, such as Facebook, as the authors themselves mentioned, were not a part of their study despite having become a popular channel for the dialogue between newsrooms and the audience in recent years (Hille & Bakker 2013).


The chapter has discussed how the borderline between professional journalists and their audiences has become blurred in digital journalism. It has shown that differentiating between audience participation within the frame of institutional journalism (participatory journalism) and outside of it (citizen journalism) is important because in participatory journalism, institutional journalism defines the frame and sets the rules. Apart from this, the defining section has shown that participatory journalism can take many forms and can take place on every stage of the news production process.

Participatory journalism has been widely discussed and researched in the context of digital journalism. However, this chapter has shown that audience participation has a much longer history and has existed in various forms long before the digital age. Also forms of community engagement like in public journalism have been practiced before. Nevertheless, audience participation in journalism has reached a new dimension in the digital age. Theoretically, audience participation offers opportunities for greater deliberation in public discourse. However, the few empirical studies concerning this aspect found different results. They partly suggest that the economy of audience participation is more important to news media than the deliberative potential. The economic perspective is also in line with the main motivation that several studies have identified for news media to open up to users and to try to build a community of loyal users. At the same time studies showed that many journalists had concerns about opening up to the audience because of the professional role of the media and limited resources.

Nevertheless, audience participation in journalism has been widely taken up by news media. The overview of studies on the participatory features offered has proved that audience participation is limited to a feedback function on already-published content, which is particularly the case in many Western countries. Other stages of the news production process are rarely open to user participation in content production. On the other hand, studies on the audience perspective have indicated that only a small part of the audience is willing to participate. Over time, newsrooms have developed strategies to manage the material they receive from users.

Today, social networking sites, such as Facebook, are important platforms for media to distribute their news and interact with users. These were not yet in the focus of many studies discussed in this chapter (for exception, see e.g., Hille & Bakker 2013; Rowe 2015). Such third-party platforms create a new environment for audience interaction that does not necessarily work the same way as audience participation on news website does. Further research on the similarities and differences between audience participation on media websites and on social media platforms is needed to understand the current development that Hille and Bakker call a “hybrid” (Hille & Bakker 2013: 664) between participatory and citizen journalism.

Further reading

Theoretical accounts on the relationship between journalism and the audience in networked digital media are provided in Bruns (2005) and Loosen and Schmidt (2012). In empirical research, the most comprehensive and cross-nationally comparative study on the topic is the book Participatory Journalism: Guarding Open Gates at Online Newspapers by a team of journalism scholars from Europe, North America, and Israel (Singer et al. 2011). A comparison between the attitudes and expectations of journalists and audience members towards audience participation in journalism can be found in Heise et al. (2014).


Belair-Gagnon, Valerie. 2015. Social media at BBC News: The re-making of crisis reporting. New York & Abingdon: Routledge.

Bergström, Annika & Ingela Wadbring. 2015. Beneficial yet crappy: Journalists and audiences on obstacles and opportunities in reader comments. European Journal of Communication 30(2). 137–151.

Binns, Amy. 2012. Don’t feed the trolls! Managing troublemakers in magazines’ online communities. Journalism Practice 6(4). 547–562.

Boczkowski, Pablo J. & Eugenia Mitchelstein. 2012. How users take advantage of different forms of interactivity on online news sites: Clicking, e-mailing, and commenting. Human Communication Research 38(1). 1–29.

Bowman, Shayne & Chris Willis. 2003. We Media: How audiences are shaping the future of news and information. Retrieved from: (accessed 31 May 2016).

Brosda, Carsten. 2008. Diskursiver Journalismus: Journalistisches Handeln zwischen kommunikativer Vernunft und mediensystemischem Zwang. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Bruns, Axel. 2005. Gatewatching: Collaborative online news production. New York: Peter Lang.

Burger, Harald. 1991. Das Gespräch in den Massenmedien. Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter.

Büteführ, Nadja. 1993. Zwischen Anspruch und Kommerz: Lokale Alternativpresse 1970–1993. Systematische Herleitung und empirische Überprüfung. Münster & New York: Waxmann.

Carey, James W. 1999. In defense of public journalism. In Theodore L. Glasser (ed.), The idea of public journalism, 49–66. New York & London: The Guilford Press.

Chung, Deborah S. 2008. Interactive features of online newspapers: Identifying patterns and predicting use of engaged readers. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13(3). 658–679.

De Keyser, Jeroen & Annika Sehl. 2011. May they come in? A comparison of German and Flemish efforts to welcome public participation in the news media. First Monday 16(10).

Deuze, Mark, Axel Bruns & Christoph Neuberger. 2007. Preparing for an age of participatory news. Journalism Practice 1(3). 322–338.

Domingo, David. 2011. Managing audience participation: Practices, workflows and strategies. In Jane B. Singer, Alfred Hermida, David Domingo, Ari Heinonen, Steve Paulussen, Thorsten Quandt, Zvi Reich & Marina Vujnovic (eds.), Participatory journalism: Guarding open gates at online newspapers, 76–95. Malden, Oxford & Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Domingo, David, Thorsten Quandt, Ari Heinonen, Steven Paulussen, Jane Singer & Marina Vujnovic. 2008. Participatory journalism practices in the media and beyond: An international comparative study of initiatives in online newspapers. Journalism Practice 2(2). 326–342.

Engesser, Sven. 2008. Partizipativer Journalismus: Eine Begriffsanalyse. In Ansgar Zerfaß, Martin Welker & Jan Schmidt (eds.), Kommunikation, Partizipation und Wirkungen im Social Web, 47–71. (Vol. 2, Strategien und Anwendungen: Perspektiven für Wirtschaft, Politik und Publizistik). Köln: Herbert von Halem Verlag.

Freelon, Deen G. 2010. Analyzing online political discussion using three models of democratic communication. New Media & Society 12(7). 1172–1190.

Fröhlich, Romy, Oliver Quiring & Sven Engesser. 2012. Between idiosyncratic self-interests and professional standards: A contribution to the understanding of participatory journalism in Web 2.0. Results from an online survey in Germany. Journalism 13(8). 1041–1063.

Glasser, Theodore L. 1999. The idea of public journalism. New York & London: The Guilford Press.

Graham, Todd & Scott Wright. 2015. A tale of two stories from “below the line”: Comment fields at the Guardian. The International Journal of Press/Politics 20(3). 317–338.

Habermas, Jürgen. [1962]1990. Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit: Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft. Frankfurt (Main): Suhrkamp Verlag.

Habermas, Jürgen. 1998. Faktizität und Geltung: Beiträge zur Diskurstheorie des Rechts und des demokratischen Rechtsstaats. Frankfurt (Main): Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag.

Heinonen, Ari. 2011. The journalist’s relationship with the users: New dimensions to conventional roles. In Jane B. Singer, Alfred Hermida, David Domingo, Ari Heinonen, Steve Paulussen, Thorsten Quandt, Zvi Reich & Marina Vujnovic (eds.), Participatory journalism: Guarding open gates at online newspapers, 34–55. Malden, Oxford & Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Heinonen, Kristina. 2011. Consumer activity in social media: Managerial approaches to consumers’. Journal of Consumer Behaviour 10(6). 356–364.

Harrison, Jackie. 2010. User-generated content and gatekeeping at the BBC hub. Journalism Studies 11(2). 243–256.

Heise, Nele, Wiebke Loosen, Julius Reimer & Jan-Hinrik Schmidt. 2014. Including the audience: Comparing the attitudes and expectations of journalists and users towards participation in German TV news journalism. Journalism Studies 15(4). 411–430.

Hermida, Alfred. 2011. Mechanism of Participation: How audience options shape the conversation. In Jane B. Singer, Alfred Hermida, David Domingo, Ari Heinonen, Steve Paulussen, Thorsten Quandt, Zvi Reich & Marina Vujnovic (eds.), Participatory journalism: Guarding open gates at online newspapers, 13–33. Malden, Oxford & Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hermida, Alfred & Neil Thurman. 2008. A clash of cultures: The integration of user-generated content within professional journalistic frameworks at British newspaper websites. Journalism Practice 2(3). 343–356.

Hille, Sanne & Piet Bakker. 2013. I like news. Searching for the “Holy Grail” of social media: The use of Facebook by Dutch news media and their audiences. European Journal of Communication 28(6). 663–680.

Jönsson, Anna. M. & Henrik Örnebring. 2011. User-generated content and the news: Empowerment of citizens or interactive illusion? Journalism Practice 5(2). 127–144.

Kalogeropoulos, Antonis, Samuel Negredo, Ike Picone & Rasmus K. Nielsen. 2017. Who shares and comments on news? A cross-national comparative analysis of online and social media participation. Social Media + Society. 112 (Online First).

Karlsson, Michael. 2011. Flourishing but restrained: The evolution of participatory journalism in Swedish online news, 2005–2009. Journalism Practice 5(1). 68–84.

Karlsson, Michael, Annika Bergström, Christer Clerwall & Karin Fast. 2015. Participatory journalism – the (r)evolution that wasn’t: Content and user behavior in Sweden 2007–2013. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 20(3). 295–311.

Lamberty, Ingo. 1988. Freies Radio in den USA: Die Pacifica Foundation. Berlin: EXpress Edition.

Lasica, J. D. 2003, August 7. What is participatory journalism? Retrieved from: (accessed 31 May 2016).

Lewis, Seth C., Avery E. Holton & Mark Coddington. 2014. Reciprocal Journalism: A concept of mutual exchange between journalists and audiences. Journalism Practice 8(2). 229–241.

Lilienthal, Volker, Stephan Weichert, Dennis Reineck, Annika Sehl & Silvia Worm. 2014. Digitaler Journalismus: Dynamik – Teilhabe – Technik. Leipzig: Vistas Verlag.

Loosen, Wiebke & Jan-Hinrik Schmidt. 2012. (Re-)discovering the audience: The relationship between journalism and audience in networked digital media. Information Communication & Society 15(6). 867–887.

Lowrey, Wilson. 2006. Mapping the journalism–blogging relationship. Journalism 7(4). 477–500.

Lünenborg, Margreth. 2000. Praktizierte Bürgernähe. Journalist 50(1). 70–71.

Merritt, Davis “Buzz”. 1995. Public journalism and public life: Why telling the news is not enough. Hillsdale & Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Napoli, Philip M. 2011. Audience evolution: New technologies and the transformation of media audiences. New York: Columbia University Press.

Neuberger, Christoph, Susanne Langenohl & Christian Nuernbergk. 2014. Redaktionsbefragung. In Christoph Neuberger, Susanne Langenohl & Christian Nuernbergk, Social Media und Journalismus, 34–91. Düsseldorf: LfM.

Neuberger, Christoph, Christian Nuernbergk & Melanie Rischke. 2009. Profession, Partizipation, Technik. Anbieterbefragung II: Internetjournalismus im Beziehungsgeflecht. In Christoph Neuberger, Christian Nuernbergk & Melanie Rischke (eds.), Journalismus im Internet: Profession – Partizipation – Technik, 269–293. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Nip, Joyce. Y. M. 2006. Exploring the second phase of public journalism. Journalism Studies 7(2). 212–236.

Örnebring, Henrik. 2008. The consumer as a producer of what? User-generated tabloid content in The Sun (UK) and Aftonbladet (Sweden). Journalism Studies 9(5). 771 785.

Outing, Steve. 2005, May 31. The 11 layers of citizen journalism. Retrieved from: (accessed 31 May 2016).

Paulussen, Steve, Ari Heinonen, David Domingo & Thorsten Quandt. 2007. Doing it together: Citizen participation in the professional news making process. Observatorio (OBS*) Journal 3. 131–154.

Paulussen, Steve & Peter Ugille. 2008. User generated content in the newsroom: Professional and organisational constraints on participatory journalism. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture 5(3). 24–41.

Prochazka, Fabian, Patrick Weber & Wolfgang Schweiger. 2018. Effects of civility and reasoning in user comments on perceived journalistic quality. Journalism Studies 19(1). 62–78.

Robinson, Sue. 2010. Traditionalists vs. convergers: Textual privilege, boundary work, and the journalist–audience relationship in the commenting policies of online news sites. Convergence 16(1). 125–143.

Rosen, Jay. 1993. Community connectedness. Passwords for public journalism: How to create journalism that listens to citizens and reinvigorates public life. St. Petersburg & Florida: The Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

Rosen, Jay. 1994. Making things more public: On the political responsibility of the media intellectual. Critical Studies in Mass Communication 11(4). 363–388.

Rosen, Jay. 1996. Getting the connections right: Public journalism and the troubles in the press. New York: 20th Century Fund Press.

Rosen, Jay. 1999. What are journalists for? New Haven: Yale University Press.

Rosenberry, Jack & Burton St. John III (eds.). 2010. Public journalism 2.0: The promise and reality of a citizen engaged press. New York & London: Routledge.

Rowe, Ian. 2015. Deliberation 2.0: Comparing the deliberative quality of online news user comments across platforms. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 59(4). 539–555.

Ruiz, Carlos, David Domingo, Josep L. Mico, Javier Diaz-Noci, Koldo Meso & Pere Masip. 2011. Public sphere 2.0? The democratic qualities of citizen debates in online newspapers. International Journal of Press-Politics 16(4). 463–487.

Schönhagen, Philomen. 1995. Die Mitarbeit der Leser: Ein erfolgreiches Zeitungskonzept des 19. Jahrhunderts. München: Verlag Reinhard Fischer.

Sehl, Annika. 2013. Partizipativer Journalismus in Tageszeitungen: Eine empirische Analyse zur publizistischen Vielfalt im Lokalen. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

Sehl, Annika, Alessio Cornia & Rasmus K. Nielsen. 2016. Public service news and digital media. (Digital News Project 2016). Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Singer, Jane B. 2010. Quality control: Perceived effects of user-generated content on newsroom norms, values and routines. Journalism Practice 4(2). 127–142.

Singer, Jane B., Alfred Hermida, David Domingo, Ari Heinonen, Steve Paulussen, Thorsten Quandt, Zvi Reich & Marina Vujnovic. 2011. Participatory journalism: Guarding open gates at online newspapers. Malden, Oxford & Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Springer, Nina, Ines Engelmann & Christian Pfaffinger. 2015. User comments: motives and inhibitors to write and read. Information, Communication & Society 18(7). 798–815.

Sterling, Christopher H. & John M. Kittross. 1978. Stay tuned: A concise history of American broadcasting. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Thurman, Neil. 2008. Forums for citizen journalists? Adoption of user generated content initiatives by online news media. New Media & Society 10(1). 139–157.

Vujnovic, Marina, Jane B. Singer, Steve Paulussen, Ari Heinonen, Zivi Reich, Thorsten Quandt, Alfred Hermida & David Domingo. 2010. Exploring the political-economic factors of participatory journalism: Views of online journalists in 10 countries. Journalism Practice 4(3). 285–296.

Wahl-Jorgensen, Karin. 2007. Journalists and the public: Newsroom culture, letters to the editor, and democracy. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Walendy, Elfriede. 1993. Offene Kanäle in Deutschland – ein Überblick. Media Perspektiven 7. 306–316.

Wardle, Claire & Andrew Williams. 2008. UGC@ thebbc: Understanding its impact upon contributors, non-contributors and BBC news. Retrieved from (accessed 31 May 2016).

Weber, Patrick. 2014. Discussions in the comments section: Factors influencing participation and interactivity in online newspapers’ reader comments. New Media & Society 16(6). 941–957.

Ziegele, Marc, Mathias Weber, Oliver Quiring & Timo Breiner. 2017. The dynamics of online news discussions: Effects of news articles and reader comments on users’ involvement, willingness to participate, and the civility of their contributions. Information, Communication & Society. 1–17 (Online first).

..................Content has been hidden....................

You can't read the all page of ebook, please click here login for view all page.