When journalists go “Below the Line”: Engaging with the audience in news comment spaces at The Guardian (2006-2013)
26th April 2018
Singapore Theatre, Melbourne School of Design
This paper longitudinally analyses how journalists at The Guardian engage with their audience in comment spaces, using an overarching quantitative analysis of comments; a content analysis of the comments by journalists; and interviews with journalists. The paper finds that the total number of comments has risen exponentially (n=110m). Journalist participation in comments varies significantly, with a small number of "super-participants". There is a very strong pattern, with journalist comments rising rapidly until 2012, before declining quickly. Interviews find that this pattern is explained by the huge increase in the volume of comments; changes in editorial priorities; and a shift to engagement to Twitter. When journalists comment, they engage in a wide variety of actions, including arguing and debating, providing further information, correcting errors, and defending their journalism practice.