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Yes We Censor: The Impact of Commenting Policies on Two Nonprofit Community Journalism Websites
Unformatted Document Text:  RunningHead: Yes We Censor 4 one that potentially allows reporters and the public to become networked in a conversation about public issues. Others have pointed to the promise of the Internet to create a Habermasian public sphere, where readers and journalists alike can engage with each other about issues of the day, thereby strengthening democratic norms and values (Gore, 2008; Papacherissi, 2002, 2004; Simpson, 2010). Studies of how mainstream journalists actually perceive and interact with user comments have had mixed results, however. Most evidence shows that traditional journalists still view their role as disseminating information in a top down or vertical approach, rather than a horizontal, peer to peer manner (Dueze, 2003; Hermida & Thurman, 2007; Singer, 2005; Nielsen, 2010). Other authors have been critical of the practice of allowing anonymous posts in news websites (Reader, 2005; Schotz, 2007). An emerging digitally native model of community journalism may provide some insight into the impact of heavily censoring and moderating comments online, which traditional news organizations have been reluctant to do. Partly in response to massive layoffs among traditional news media, a new model of community centric, journalism sites began appearing in 2005 as nonprofit educational organizations. The editors of these sites formed the Investigative News Network in 2009, which supports non-profit news organizations in conducting high-impact, public interest stories on the local, regional or national level (INN, n.d.). Many of these digitally native news outlets have identified their mission as one of increasing civic participation and engaging the public in conversations about local issues (INN). The purpose of this qualitative, multiple case study is to describe the comment policies and moderation practices of two digitally native nonprofit community journalism sites. The sites were purposively chosen because the editors of each outlet have said that they are satisfied with

Authors: Nee, Rebecca.
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RunningHead: Yes We Censor 
 
 
 
one that potentially allows reporters and the public to become networked in a conversation about 
public issues. Others have pointed to the promise of the Internet to create a Habermasian public 
sphere, where readers and journalists alike can engage with each other about issues of the day, 
thereby strengthening democratic norms and values (Gore, 2008; Papacherissi, 2002, 2004; 
Simpson, 2010). 
 
Studies of how mainstream journalists actually perceive and interact with user comments 
have had mixed results, however. Most evidence shows that traditional journalists still view their 
role as disseminating information in a top down or vertical approach, rather than a horizontal, 
peer to peer manner (Dueze, 2003; Hermida & Thurman, 2007; Singer, 2005; Nielsen, 2010). 
Other authors have been critical of the practice of allowing anonymous posts in news websites 
(Reader, 2005; Schotz, 2007). 
 
An emerging digitally native model of community journalism may provide some insight 
into the impact of heavily censoring and moderating comments online, which traditional news 
organizations have been reluctant to do. Partly in response to massive layoffs among traditional 
news media, a new model of community centric, journalism sites began appearing in 2005 as 
nonprofit educational organizations. The editors of these sites formed the Investigative News 
Network in 2009, which supports non-profit news organizations in conducting high-impact, 
public interest stories on the local, regional or national level (INN, n.d.). Many of these digitally 
native news outlets have identified their mission as one of increasing civic participation and 
engaging the public in conversations about local issues (INN).  
 
The purpose of this qualitative, multiple case study is to describe the comment policies 
and moderation practices of two digitally native nonprofit community journalism sites. The sites 
were purposively chosen because the editors of each outlet have said that they are satisfied with 


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