Moderating the online discussion

Comment sections are increasingly common at the end of online media articles and blogs, encouraging users to post their opinions, and to stimulate discussion and interaction (Neilson, 2012). However, through researching the particular case of the Australian DJs Royal hoax, I discovered that there are still some online publications that do not provide a comment section at the completion of the article. Could this be attributed to the difficulty in moderating the discussion that is generated?

According to Allen (cited in Martin, 2012), “Debate and dissent is healthy”. Comment forums allow for the audience to be heard, actively participate in the discussion, however, concerns have been raised surrounding the editorial and ethical capabilities of the general public (Martin, 2012). Whose responsibility is it to moderate this content; our own, or the publications?

Australian DJ’s Royal Hoax

Recently in the news, was the scandal surrounding the two Australian DJ’s and the prank hey played on the hospital Kate Middleton was being treated at. Tragically, the nurse who put through the prank call, Jacintha Saldanah, committed suicide a few days after this news broke around the world. We’re all quick to lay blame and the comment sections on online publications and blogs provided the perfect avenue for people to vent their feelings.

The first article I clicked on, ‘Australian radio station boss refuses to sack royal prank DJs and claims THEY are the victims’, by the Daily Mail –, had over 4500 comments on the story, all within a two day period.

In and around the comment section on this article, Daily Mail has provided the following information:

  • “The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline”
  •  “These comments below have been moderated in advance”
  • “We are no longer accepting comments on this site”

In addition to this, Daily Mail has a rating system for the comments.


The next article I looked at, on Yahoo News (, there are 97 comments regarding this topic. Yahoo took a different approach to the moderation of this discussion. You have the ability to report abuse, and to rate the comments based on its content. However, if comments are found to be offensive, it is hidden, but can still be viewed if you click on it. There were a number of comments moderated on this website. These comments involved racism, remarks about the monarchy or jokes regarding suicide. I did not feel comfortable quoting these posts, so at your own discretion; refer to the above link to investigate further.


The third article I read was on Sky News ( In order to leave a comment on their website, you must sign up an account, and thus, “by posting a comment, you are agreeing to abide by our terms and conditions”.

Moderating techniques

The above articles demonstrate a number of different techniques to moderate the discussion on online articles. As a media student, I feel as though I have the right to view, and subsequently make my own judgements and decisions based on the discourse surrounding certain events and topics. But if I was the manager of an online publication, I would disclose that the comments do not reflect those of the company, to ensure that any backlash doesn’t affect their brand and reputation. I think it is important to allow the audience to remain anonymous when engaging in discussion, and thus, it is our responsibility to moderate what we write online.


Martin, F (2012), ‘Vox Populi, Vox Dei: ANB Online and the risks of dialogic interaction’, in Histories of Public Service Broadcasters on the Web, Editor, N. Brugger and M. Burns. New York: Peter land, pp177-192

Neilson, C (2012), ‘Newspaper Journalists Support Online Comments’, Newspaper Research Journal, vol33, no1, pp86-100


Technology helping the disabled

Those who have a disability are still treated as an ‘other’ in society, when many don’t want your pity, sympathy of special treatment. Consider Stella Young, a stand up comedian, who wants nothing more than to be treated the same as anyone else.

As someone whose life hasn’t been impacted by disability, I just assumed that with such intelligent technology available, there would not still be this gap dividing the abled and the disabled. After reading ‘The Business of Digital Disability’, by Goggin & Newell (2007), however, it came to my attention that we, as a society, do not provide as much inclusivity as I thought. Consider the self-serve check-in stations at airports, and how difficult that situation must be for vision impaired people to navigate (Goggin & Newell, 2007).

After thinking about this, I began researching the various technologies available to those who are vision, or hearing impaired.


Some useful iPhone apps I found based on the following blog, include;

  • Voice phone – voice activation for calling, when it’s difficult to type the numbers
  • SoundAMP lite – turns your phone into a listening device
  • ISpectrum Colour Blind Assistant – will identify any colour you take a picture of

Siri, however, is considered one of the most successful/useful apps for those who are disabled, allowing the simplest of tasks to be done through voice activation –

Google features

Google Chrome has a number of features to accommodate those who are either vision or hearing impaired users.

For vision impaired users;

  • Change font size and types
  • Change contrast of colours (black background, white writing)
  • Use keyboard shortcuts
  • ChromeVox allows for voice activated commands

For hearing impaired users;

  • Sign language interpretation app
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Use of captions

This link will also provide the ways in which Android accommodate its vision and hearing impaired users. So whilst there are ways in which technology provides benefits for those who are disabled, there is still a long way to go in society to bridge the gap.


Goggin, G & Newell, C (2007), ‘The Business of Digital Disability’, The Information Society: An International Journal, vol 23, no 3, pp159-168

The changing of ‘White Bread Media’

The term ‘White Bread Media’, as proposed by Dreher (forthcoming 2014), suggests the notion of unequal representation of race in the media. This is such an important issue, as the media does not only play a role in reflecting society, but also assumes the role of a key player in public debates, representing and shaping our understanding of the notion of race and stereotypes (Dreher, forthcoming 2014).

Whilst there are countless examples of how minorities and ‘racial others’ are misrepresented and depicted in a negative light in the media, I will examine the positive representation of these groups. In particular I will be discussing the depiction of the African-American race in  the America television series Suits According to the blog, Balancing Jane, ( Suits is ranked as one of the most racially diverse American TV shows on television at the moment.

Although both of the leading roles in this series go to white, males, Jessica Pearson (played by Gina Torres) plays the role of the managing and naming partner of the law firm, Pearson Hardman. Jessica plays the role of a woman in power, who has experienced great success in the field of law. In addition to this, she is an African-American woman, in her forties, who is not married, nor is she a mother. In essence, she is married to her work.

Rachel Zane (played by Meghan Markle) is the young, beautiful and independent paralegal who is aspiring to become a lawyer. Whilst she has dark features (and in real life is half African-American) it was not mentioned or communicated in the show that she is African-American until half way through the second season when her dad is introduced (much to the surprise of Mike (Patrick J. Adams), one of the leading males).

Both women play an important role in shaping societies understanding of the Africa-American woman, providing a role model for young women to aspire to. This case demonstrates the positive representation of a diverse range of races. Due to the media’s undeniable influence, more shows need to made with positive representations of diversities in race in order to contribute to changing society views.


Dreher, T. (forthcoming 2014), ‘White Bread Media’ in the Media and Communications in Australia eds. S Cunningham and S Turnbull, Allen and Urwin.

Feudalisation of the internet: Who knows the most about you?

The feudalisation of the internet is quite a relevant and contemporary issue that regardless of our individual understanding of the issues at hand has the potential to have major repercussions years from now. In digital terms, feudalisation refers to the centralised control of a network, such as the internet. This introduces the concept of the walled garden, which refers to closed, hierarchical, centralised databases. Examples of walled gardens include Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Apple App store and Google Play, to name a few. These databases exhibit control, surveillance and censorship over information that we not only see but also produce. ‘Tethered devices’ (Zittrain, 2008) play a role in the delivery of walled gardens

Lecture slides; week 8 –

I want to explore the notion of surveillance a little more….

“The more we know about you, the more valuable your data is, the more of it we want to keep”

Points raised in this week’s lecture suggests that companies such as those aforementioned know more about us than some of our closest friends do. But do we really care? Do we care who sees and distributes our information? Who are we without this data?

Consider the case of Max Schrems. Max, after three years of using Facebook requested for them to present him with all of the information and data that they had on him. After payment, they sent him 1222 pages of information.

Now, consider Bongo

what does bongo know about youbongo3

Bongo compiles information on individuals from websites, emails, cookies, third parties as well as interviews and phone calls. Upon requests, Bongo will send a reply text message to you, detailing ANY information you want on a certain individual.

Are we losing control of who we are? The repercussions of so much detailed information and data being held to our name could have devastating effects in the future. What would we give to make this information disappear?


Zittrain, J. 2008, ‘Tethered Appliances, Software as Service, as Perfect Enforcement’ in The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it, Yale University Press, New Haven, pp101-126,

Tertiary Education: Should it be a privileged right?

The Ivory Tower analogy poses quite a dystopian perspective regarding the university institution, suggesting that they are secluded, and have nothing to do with the real world. On the other end of the scale are MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), which as the name suggests, offers courses for no cost, via online (Mallon, 2013).


Free Online classes: Unlocking the Ivory Tower –

Should a tertiary education be freely available to anyone? As someone who is playing tens of thousands of dollars to earn my degree, I feel as though the service of tertiary education should be limited to institutions, such as universities and colleges. Kind of selfish, I know – however, the Australian Governments HECS-HELP system is making the transition into tertiary education easier.

Knowledge is mediated through universities, to filter the quality of information. In contrast, the amount of information that is available online is infinite, creating a surplus. Therefore, online tertiary education has the potential to alter the integrity of the tertiary degree. Think about it, if we make tertiary education open to anyone and everyone, won’t the value of being educated diminish because it won’t be filtered? Do you agree?

I’m not advocating though, that we shouldn’t be able to access information online for free. As a student, there is nothing more annoying than finding an article online, reading the abstract and realising it’s got everything you need, only to be refused access and asked to pay money to gain access.

I believe it is the role of the education institution, which students pay considerable amounts of money, to ensure that we have access to as much information possible. Databases such as Summon should provide students with unfettered access free articles, particularly those which are particularly useful, but usually require subscription.



Mallon, M. 2013, ‘MOOCs’, Public Services Quality, vol 9, no 1, pp46-53

How soon until the printed newspaper becomes obsolete?

In 1996, only 15% of newspapers had online websites; today, there would be VERY few who do not have an online presence (Neilson, 2012). In addition to this, comment boards are increasingly common proceeding online stories, encouraging users to anonymously post their opinions, and interact with not only the journalist, but other readers (Neilson, 2012).

This is changing the nature of the communication channels for journalism; with two-way communication replacing the previous one-way communication channel (Neilson, 2012).

The list of Australian newspapers with an online website is extremely long

Some include;

  • The Sydney Morning Herald
  • The Australian
  • The Age
  • Daily Telegraph
  • Illawarra Mercury

Just last week, the Illawarra Mercury has taken an online presence one step further, by introducing the ‘Digital Edition’.

“The Mercury’s new digital edition enables readers to enjoy the familiar experience of our traditional print edition with all the ease and convenience of a digital medium.”

This digital edition is available from 6am, Monday through to Saturday, and can be read on an iPad, PC or laptop.

Another recent change to the newspaper industry came from Fairfax Media Limited last month, reducing the Sydney Morning Herald from broadsheet to a more compact tabloid size.


Fairfax are also planning to close 2 of their printing facilities, in Sydney and in Tulllamarine., moving them to more regional areas.

With the printed newspaper increasingly being represented online, the size of the publication decreasing, and with readers finding out their news from other avenues such as blogs, feeds and social media, how long will it be before the printed newspaper becomes obsolete? 2 years? 5 years?


Neilson, C 2012, ‘Newspaper Journalists Support Online Comments’, Newspaper Research Journal, vol33, no1, pp86-100

Free Speech, or Abuse? The Twitter Debate

Recent events on the Social Media platform, Twitter, have caused their privacy policy to come under fire and raised questions of ‘whose policy matters?’

Late last year, Charlotte Dawson, an Australian Media Personality, was victim of abuse, by ‘trolls’ on Twitter. The assault was so powerful that she was taken to hospital and admitted to the Psychiatric ward at St Vincent’s Hospital after reports of Dawson attempting to take her own life (


Australia has laws protecting people from abuse, but through the use of platforms such as Twitter, this line is blurred. Why can’t these people be prosecuted? And where does free speech come into question?

Under legislation by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA), “Interest server providers are required to assist officers and authorities of the Commonwealth, state and territories in law enforcement” (

A clash of policies emerges as Twitter is an American company, and will not join forces with Australian authorities to help protect its users and the Australian public. Stephen Conroy, Australian Communications Minister, in light of what happened with Ms Dawson is “urging” twitter to take international issues seriously and become accountable for what happens on their website (

The ACMA has released information on how to protect yourself from trolls ( and includes the following;
1. Ignore the troll by not responding
2. Block the troll
3. Report the troll – if they continue contact the police
4. Talk with friends and family – or call the helpline on 1800 55 1800
5. Protect friends from trolls – pass on this wisdom

So whose job is it to protect those online? It is Twitter’s? The Australian Governments and Media Authorities? The Australian Federal Police, and Police at State and Territory levels? OR our own.

Has media convergence made it too difficult to censor? (Flew, 2012) My answer is no! Twitter need to man up and take tweet reports seriously, by tracking IP addresses and refusing trolls the right to abuse others. If the same behaviour occurred on the streets in Australia, offenders would be prosecuted.

Flew, T. 2012, ‘Media Classification: Content Regulation in an age of convergent media’, Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy, 143 May: 5-15

Further reading;