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Article

Killing the Comments: Why Do News Organizations Remove User Commentary Functions?

1
Mixed Methods Research Lab, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
2
Department of Communication, Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19085, USA
3
Department of Communication, University of Münster, 48143 Münster, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: José Rúas Araujo, John P. Wihbey and Daniel Barredo-Ibáñez
Journal. Media. 2021, 2(4), 572-583; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2040034
Received: 17 August 2021 / Revised: 20 September 2021 / Accepted: 29 September 2021 / Published: 12 October 2021
User commentary in digital journalism is commonly understood as a form of public user engagement and participation, a stance that reframes news organizations’ role as discussion curators as necessarily consequential. Yet, in recent years many news organizations have limited, or abandoned altogether, their commentary functions. This paper examines statements and policies published by such news organizations. Based on a thematic analysis of 20 comment removal statements, we found that the most common rationale for this shift was an effort to reduce incivility and misinformation among user comments. The statements analyzed also indicate that organizations are moving to outsource commentary to social media platforms. Tapping into normative discourses of (avoiding) uncivil, conspiracy-prone commentary seems to be an acceptable rationale for abandoning infrastructures established for public discussions or to move these to social media; yet, we found no reflection whatsoever about the additional power afforded to social media companies through such a shift. View Full-Text
Keywords: journalism; user comments; incivility; public discourse; online news; comment feature removal journalism; user comments; incivility; public discourse; online news; comment feature removal
MDPI and ACS Style

Nelson, M.N.; Ksiazek, T.B.; Springer, N. Killing the Comments: Why Do News Organizations Remove User Commentary Functions? Journal. Media. 2021, 2, 572-583. https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2040034

AMA Style

Nelson MN, Ksiazek TB, Springer N. Killing the Comments: Why Do News Organizations Remove User Commentary Functions? Journalism and Media. 2021; 2(4):572-583. https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2040034

Chicago/Turabian Style

Nelson, Maria N., Thomas B. Ksiazek, and Nina Springer. 2021. "Killing the Comments: Why Do News Organizations Remove User Commentary Functions?" Journalism and Media 2, no. 4: 572-583. https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2040034

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