Australian journalist-blogs: bear-pits of abuse or a new arena of civic engagement

This is an archived copy of an event that has already passed. It is online for informational purposes only.
  • Date:
  • Location: University Of The Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs 4556 Queensland

The Faculty of Arts and Business are holding Research Seminars by academic researchers and visiting scholars on a range of topics each Wednesday.
The sixth seminar in the Thirteen week series is being presented by Ms Mary Garden
Title: Australian journalist-blogs: bear-pits of abuse or a new arena of civic engagement
Presenter: Ms Mary Garden
Chair: Mr Peter English
Week & Date: Week 6, Wednesday 28st August
Time: 1-2pm
Venue: Building C, Ground Floor, Room LT7 (near Café C)
Staff, students, graduates and members of the public are welcome to attend.   
The comment feature has enabled blogs to become interactive and dialogical, transforming them into an online space where discussion and debate can take place. Yet this important dimension of a blog has been overlooked with the focus of most studies being on the posts of bloggers. For example, there have been large-scale content analyses of networks of hyperlinks using tools such as IssueCrawler or Leximancer. In recent years, scholars have also investigated deliberation on newspaper sites, but have looked at the ubiquitous readers’ comments to online opinion articles rather than blogs per se. My doctoral study examined Australia’s mainstream media blogosphere and those political blogs authored by journalists. As well as interviews with journalists and editors, comment-threads were evaluated to determine if they resembled bear-pits of abuse and polarized repetitive ranting or if there were any that demonstrated civil public debate, or deliberative discourse.
In spite of the domination of the few, there was a high level of interactivity in many blogs as well as high participation by some bloggers, which contrasts with the results of overseas studies. In addition, a significant number of users expressed disagreement with the journalist or other participants. While the presence of disagreement suggests heterogeneity of views, some of the blogs revealed high levels of flaming as well as unreasonable opinions and fallacious arguments. There emerged clear distinctions between blogs on the tabloid sites and those on the site of The Australian and the sole Fairfax blog Blunt Instrument where discussions were more reasonable and civil due to their more stringent moderation. Overall, the blogs suggest a level of political engagement not seen in earlier formats.
Mary Garden’s doctoral thesis is titled ‘Blogging in the mainstream – Australian journalist-blogs and public deliberation’. A former primary and secondary school teacher, Mary is the author of The Serpent Rising: a journey of spiritual seduction (based on her years in India in the 1970s). She has had many feature articles published in magazines, newspapers and online sites in Australia and overseas. During her candidature she has had three journal articles relevant to her thesis published in high-quality peer-reviewed journals
Please contact Kirsty Neylan on 5456 5595 or email if you have any questions or need further information.  Have a great day and we look forward to seeing you at the seminar @ 1pm in LT7!

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University Of The Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs

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