Beyond the "sewer": online media forums as shapers of digital public opinion in the framework of Colombian peace talks (2012)

Silvia Montaña, Victoria González, César Ariza

Abstract


Comments to online news are complex spaces for discussion of political life. Its informal, free and anonymous nature, promote participation dynamics of interest for the research on the formation of public opinion on the Internet. This paper analyzes participation dynamics among the users of these media spaces during the preparatory stage of the peace process in Colombia in September and October 2012. A sample of the forums associated to thirteen news stories from three Colombian online newspapers (eltiempo.com; elespectador.com and elcolombiano.com.co) was analyzed using qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative analysis considers discursive aspects of the users from the idea of "mundane citizenship" raised by Maria Bakardjieva. As for the quantitative perspective, aspects such as concentration of contributions from the commentators and the frequency of their interventions were taken into consideration. The most prolific commentators were identified and their different participation strategies were analyzed. The conclusions raise future research questions, such as the influence of the moderation strategies used by online media on the behavior of the users of the forums.


Keywords


Colombia; Colombian Press; Mundane citizenship; online discussion forums; comments; participation

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Journal of Latin American Communication Research - 2014

 

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