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Online journalism paper co-authored by PhD student to be presented at international symposium

PhD student Burton Speakman is a co-author with Associate Professor Hans Meyer on a paper that will be presented April 16 at the International Symposium for Online Journalism in Austin, TX.

The article will also be published in the ISOJs journal that corresponds with the conference. The article relates to the publics willingness to comment on online newspaper stories.

The Internet possesses some of the characteristics necessary to overcome the Spiral of Silence, a media theory designed to explain why some people do not join conversations. Chief among these online advantages is the ability to remain anonymous. In addition, forum moderators and managers can impose group norms, such as moderation and measures to ensure civility, that could alleviate some spiral of silence concerns. Using a nationwide survey asking participants if they comment at the end of news stories and why or why not, this study examines whether anonymity, group norms or other online functions have helped to lessen the effects of the spiral of silence. The study focuses specifically on comments at the end of news stories to examine the impact journalists can have on the conversation. Despite the advantages of the Internet, the study finds that spiral of silence persists, but journalists who noticeably moderate comments have an effect. The key, however, to overcoming the spiral of silence is helping commenters feel a part of a community with other forum participants, and that may be the best role for journalists to fulfill.

March 23, 2016

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