Date of Award

December 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Pamela J. Shoemaker


Commenting, Digital News, Digital News Platforms, Newsworthiness, Participatory Journalism, Shoemaker

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Audience participation with digital news content has become a central feature of news consumption. These participatory news behaviors – commenting on, sharing, and “liking” news stories – have implications for both newsreaders and producers of news. This dissertation tests a structural model of commenting behavior using survey data (N = 335). The model builds on suggestions of a connection between hostile-media effects and commenting. This study adds newsworthiness to the structural equation, hypothesizing that newsworthiness increases readers’ perceptions that an article will influence other readers. These relationships should increase hostile-media effects, and, therefore, a reader’s likelihood of commenting. The model tested had indicators of good fit, although hostile-media effects did not play a prominent role in the structural model. Readers, rather, were more likely to comment if they found the article threatened norms – a dimension of newsworthiness – and if they had routinely commented on news stories prior to the study. The study also revealed that readers are more likely to comment if they are male, and if they believe their comments can influence the conversation.


Open Access