Catharsis and Community: Divergent Motivations for Audience Participation in Online Newspapers and Blogs

Eugenia Mitchelstein


This article examines political talk practices in two different contexts: online newspapers and blogs. It draws on a mixed-methods study that combines a survey of participants in both spaces with interviews with bloggers and moderators at news websites. The survey indicates that participants have divergent motivations to contribute to both online forums. Whereas participating in blogs was mostly linked to discussion and socialization motives, posting comments in online newspapers was usually associated with self-expression needs. In turn, interviews revealed that bloggers welcome interaction with readers and appreciated their comments, whereas newspaper moderators did not participate and had a low opinion of the quality of users’ contributions. These findings suggest that online discussion is a multifaceted phenomenon shaped by the motivations and practices of participants and facilitators.

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