Let's get back to the blog business

It’s time to get back to the blog business. From time to time, I will be recommending articles and studies related to journalism, social media, and the tremendous upheaval that is the news business today.

And I thought I would start with a study that caught my eye. It’s ironic because comments, as many have heard me say countless times over the years, do not come under the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman. But I know it is of some interest. And this makes for excellent reading. Three academics have published a study (which I heard about via Twitter) entitled “10 things we learned by analyzing 9 million comments from the New York Times. That’s a lot of comments. The work was done through the Engaging News Project, which is housed at the University of Texas. Their stated goal “envisions a vibrant American news media that more effectively empowers the public to understand, appreciate, and participate in the democratic exchange of ideas.”

Sounds worthwhile to me –and their site seems to be full of interesting, and well –engaging looks at aspect of modern media.

So as not to keep you in suspense, here are the ten findings from the study based on those 9 million comments over a six year period.

  1. The number of comments increased after The New York Times redesign in November 2011.
  2. Use of abuse flags declined following the redesign.
  3. The redesign had little effect on the number of recommendations per comment.
  4. The use of uncivil terms declined slightly after the redesign.
  5. Receiving a recommendation or being selected as a “NYT Pick” relates to a boost in how many times a commenter posts.
  6. The New York Times receives more comments on weekdays than on weekends.
  7. Rejection rates and the use of uncivil terms in the comments are higher on weekends than on weekdays.
  8. Comments containing profanity and using fewer words are more likely to be rejected.
  9. Comments containing profanity and using fewer words are less likely to be selected as NYT Picks.
  10. Using partisan and uncivil terms in a comment corresponds with a greater number of user recommendations.