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How to Cope with Dark Participation: Moderation Practices in German Newsrooms

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Comments in designated sections of newspaper websites and on social media platforms are the most prominent form of user participation in journalism, offering the opportunity to connect to the audience. Yet, rising levels of dark participation in the form of hate speech, disinformation, and strategic attempts to influence public opinion, provide new challenges for media organizations and require moderators to ensure a minimum of discursive quality. Newsrooms employ a variety of moderation strategies. Based on computer assisted telephone interviews with German journalists working for online newspapers (N = 274), we identified explanatory factors for the implementation of discursive-interactive and authoritative-interactive moderation practices. The results suggest that left-leaning media tend to engage more in authoritative-interactive as well as discursive-interactive moderation than right-leaning media. If media organizations establish a participative communicative setting, moderators engage more with the audience although the prevalence of dark participation is higher.




Wintterlin, F., Schatto-Eckrodt, T., Frischlich, L., Boberg, S., & Quandt, T. (2020). How to Cope with Dark Participation: Moderation Practices in German Newsrooms. Digital Journalism, 8(7), 904–924.

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