References to journalism-as-a-conversation abound in audience-centered literatures. Missing, though, are clear conceptual and operational definitions that allow theory building for purposes of explanation and prediction, a key goal in science. This essay identifies limitations to related audience-centered concepts in journalism and offers a richer, more coherent definition of conversation as a multidimensional phenomenon with a distinct democratic bent, consisting of both socio-psychological and technological features. The features/variables that theoretically appear to best index conversation: social presence, friendliness, informality, coorientation, and interactivity.
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