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Don't Turn Them Off: How to Improve Online Comment Sections

About This Course

Creating digital discussion spaces that yield quality commentary has proven elusive for many newsrooms. Trolls, spam, incivility, misinformation – the list of problematic content appearing in news comment sections could go on. Politics, in particular, seems to bring out some of the worst in discussions.

How can online political discussion be improved?

This Webinar will present research recently conducted by the Engaging News Project and the National Institute for Civil Discourse that will present strategies for improving online discussion.

As a bonus, you can download the full research reports to use in your newsroom.


Civil Discourse in Online Spaces

Focus Groups

Background & Facts Prior to Comments

What Will I Learn:

  • Tips for using methods that enhance respectful conversation
  • What leads people to comment
  • Tools and strategies that lead to more productive comment spaces
  • Ways to incorporate research findings into comment sections

Who Should Take this Course:

Social media directors, editors, reporters and anyone working on engaging audiences on social media.

Course Staff

Raquel Goodrich

Raquel Goodrich is the Director of Digital Communications for the National Institute for Civil Discourse. Raquel holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Maine and a Bachelor of Social Sciences from Unity College. Raquel manages the Institute's digital communication platforms, and seeks to use virtual technologies to strengthen American’s roles in our democracy. Raquel also helps to spearhead the Creating Community Solutions Initiative, part of the National Dialogue on Mental Health. Her work with CCS includes leading the Communications strategy and developing Text, Talk, Act, a text-massaging platform that leads participants through a meaningful dialogue via their cell phones.

Raquel’s work focuses on providing online platforms where Americans can engage in civil discourse around the issues that are most important to them. Recognizing a lack of safe spaces in the online environment, she utilizes technology and best practices to encourage people to take responsibility for their democracy.

Natalie Jomini Stroud

Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud (Ph.D., Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania) is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Assistant Director of Research at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2012, Stroud has directed the grant-funded Engaging News Project, which examines commercially-viable and democratically-beneficial ways of improving online news coverage. In 2014-15, she was a fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University. Stroud is interested in how the media affect our political behaviors and attitudes and how our political behaviors and attitudes affect our media use. Her book, Niche News: The Politics of News Choice (Oxford University Press) explores the causes, consequences, and prevalence of partisan selective exposure, the preference for like-minded political information. Niche News received the International Communication Association's Outstanding Book Award.