Archive For The “Online Commenting” Category

Participation Inequality: Women and Online Comments

By | March 30, 2017

Online comments sections are our modern day venues for collaboration, for public discourse, for democratic deliberation. The internet was supposed to even the playing field for participation.
 But for many women, wading into the incivility of online comments or social media exchanges is like walking alone down a scary back alley, or into an angry […]

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The harbinger of our hateful electorate? Look no further than online comments

By | December 18, 2016

The contentious post-election climate has left many Americans wondering how our democracy became so spiteful. I think it’s time to heap some blame on online comments. The ability to say offensive things online on a daily basis without consequences has led to new, and more harmful, norms for civic behavior. Toxic fuming online, ad hominem […]

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Nasty online comments continue, unabated and emboldened by Election 2016

By | November 10, 2016

Around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10, I discovered through my Twitter feed a thoughtful column about the potential makeup of the United States Supreme Court when Donald J. Trump becomes president. The commentary piece, “Don’t Expect the Supreme Court To Change Much,” was written by Cass R. Sunstein, an academic I admire, and published 16 […]

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Think Mark Twain would have used social media?

By | September 26, 2016

For writers, social media is both a tool and a trap. If social media had existed when Mark Twain was publishing, think the American author and humorist would have used it? The writer also known as Samuel Clemens put a 100-year embargo on his autobiography. Why? He was known to be fiercely protective of his […]

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Reading too many comments

By | July 29, 2016

I’ve spent two mind-numbing weeks watching the national political conventions. The online comments surrounding them? Fear, loathing, anger, hype, snark. So much polarization. All mistrust and motivated reasoning. Just take a glimpse at WSJ’s Blue Feed, Red Feed for realtime examples. “Live chat” comments on YouTube live streams of the #RNCinCLE and #DemsinPhilly conventions were undoubtedly the […]

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Consequence-free speech

By | July 28, 2016

“My mood, I say, was one of exaltation. I felt as a seeing man might do, with padded feet and noiseless clothes, in a city of the blind. I experienced a wild impulse to jest, to startle people, to clap men on the back, fling people’s hats astray, and generally revel in my extraordinary advantage.” […]

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What journalists should realize about social media: A poem, of sorts

By | April 26, 2016

What is social media? It’s a billboard a live broadcast channel an archive and a library. It’s also a conversation. Unscripted and unpredictable. A customer service feedback line and a crowd-sourcing tool. It’s a polling center a debate arena an angry mob and an echo chamber. Social media is a snark machine. It offers publishing […]

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Social media is often the antithesis of a safe space

By | February 5, 2016

Back in mid-November 2015, I attended the Association of Opinion Journalists Minority Writers Seminar on a fellowship. During the four day workshop at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, I banged out a rough personal essay about what happened the first time I assigned my journalism students to use Twitter. It was a commentary […]

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To Comment or Not To Comment

By | October 7, 2015

I spend a lot of my time mulling over ways for journalists to elevate online discourse on news stories. Below is a presentation I gave at the 2015 Excellence in Journalism conference in Orlando, FL on September 18. Joining me was Talia Stroud of the Engaging News Project. My prepared script for “To Comment or […]

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Journalism Still Teaching Me How to Take a Stand

By | August 25, 2015

Growing up in a blue-collar, mixed-race family in Connecticut, I was exposed to two distinct styles of argument. My fiery paternal grandmother (a descendant of those witch-burning Salem, Massachusetts Puritans) was the type to declare her opinion on any and all topics, whether you asked for it or not. Shanahan family debates involved loud voices […]

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