What happens when journalists join in the discussion in the often-frightening comments section below their articles? That’s one of the questions I sought to answer in my book, Discussing the News: the uneasy alliance of participatory journalists and the critical public, published earlier this year. In traditional newspaper culture, journalists do not often engage with their readers. So, as a researcher I jumped at the chance of witnessing an attempt to foster a more conversational relationship between journalists and the public at the newly-founded Slovak daily, Denník N.
This book examines two new roles that journalists assume in a participatory media environment – the administration (moderation) of online discussion and the monitoring of and engagement in comments below their articles. Based on a three-year ethnographic study, the book argues that as media organizations face a crisis in their ability to represent the public, the challenge is to orchestrate participatory journalism as a collective accomplishment in which everyone is not a journalist but everyone can be a contributor.