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Diverse Discourse: Analyzing the Potential of Public Affairs Magazine Online Forums to Reflect Qualities of the Public Sphere

Diverse Discourse: Analyzing the Potential of Public Affairs Magazine Online Forums to Reflect Qualities of the Public Sphere (2015), written by David Wolfgang and Joy Jenkins, was published in Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 11: Iss. 1. This study explored the quality of public discourse within public affairs magazines and how the quality of discussion varied depending on whether the magazine was moderate and directed at a broader audience, versus liberal/conservative specific magazines which also held diverse perspectives. 

From the Abstract

Public affairs magazines have expanded beyond their print editions to offer online editions with forums for readers to discuss important public issues. For magazines that cater to ideologically specific audiences, online forums could serve as forms of alternative publics for presenting diverse viewpoints and values. The conversations that emerge also hold potential for portraying characteristics of the public sphere. This study used textual analysis to examine online comments associated with 21 articles from six different U.S. public affairs magazines representing various positions on the ideological spectrum. Using Dahlberg’s (2001) six-part assessment of quality public discourse, the analysis showed that moderate magazines serving a broad readership induced a lower-quality discussion. In contrast, liberal and conservative publications, when encouraging diverse and ideologically heterogeneous perspectives, produced quality discourse. These forums showed higher levels of quality characteristics such as exchange and critique of normative positions, reflexivity, sincerity, and constructive dialogue.

Download the case study from the Journal of Public Deliberation here.

About the Journal of Public Deliberation
Journal of Public DeliberationSpearheaded by the Deliberative Democracy Consortium in collaboration with the International Association of Public Participation, the principal objective of Journal of Public Deliberation (JPD) is to synthesize the research, opinion, projects, experiments and experiences of academics and practitioners in the emerging multi-disciplinary field and political movement called by some “deliberative democracy.” By doing this, we hope to help improve future research endeavors in this field and aid in the transformation of modern representative democracy into a more citizen friendly form.

Follow the Deliberative Democracy Consortium on Twitter: @delibdem

Follow the International Association of Public Participation [US] on Twitter: @IAP2USA

Resource Link: www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol11/iss1/art5

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