A Tale of Two Stories from “Below the Line”: Comment Fields at the Guardian

Todd Graham, Scott Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyzes the nature of debate on “below the line” comment fields at the United Kingdom’s Guardian, and how, if at all, such debates are impacting journalism practice. The article combines a content analysis of 3,792 comments across eighty-five articles that focused on the UN Climate Change Summit, with ten interviews with journalists, two with affiliated commentators, plus the community manager. The results suggest a more positive picture than has been found by many existing studies: Debates were often deliberative in nature, and journalists reported that it was positively impacting their practice in several ways, including providing new story leads and enhanced critical reflection. However, citizen–journalist debate was limited. The results are attributed to the normalization of comment fields into everyday journalism practice, extensive support and encouragement from senior management, and a realization that comment fields can actually make the journalists’ life a little easier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-338
Number of pages22
JournalThe International Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • climate change coverage
  • comment fields
  • Guardian
  • journalism practice
  • public sphere
  • readers’ comments
  • UGC

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