On-line commenting on opinion editorials: A cross-cultural examination of face work in the Washington Post (USA) and NRG (Israel)

Elda Weizman, Gonen Dori-Hacohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Readers’ comments on op-eds have mostly been analyzed by researchers as cases of disagreement, and in the Israeli context they are further described as aggressive and abusive. These insights have been gained based on the use of offensive vocabulary and un-hedged directness. The present contribution proposes a cross-cultural examination of commenting, comparing responses to opinion editorials in the internet sites of the Washington Post and its ideologically counterpart in Israel, NRG, three op-eds for each language. To do so, we (a) introduce a coding scheme which accounts for commenting, based on a distinction between agreement/disagreement, logos-oriented vs. ethos-oriented (ad-hominem and ad-personam) comments, and literal vs. ironic keying; (b) postulate a scale of threat to negative face; and (c) compare the use of the various commenting strategies in two sets of data, the internet sites of the Washington Post for American English, and the Israeli NRG site for the Hebrew. Findings indicate (1) a higher preference for the more threatening no-logos and ad-personam comments in the NRG data as compared to the WP, (2) similarities between the two sites in the use of irony vs non-irony, with preference for ironic keying in anti-ethos as compared to anti-logos. We discuss the implications of these findings in terms of the commenting arena in the public sphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalDiscourse, Context and Media
Volume19
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Ad-hominem
  • Ad-personam
  • Disagreement
  • Ethos
  • Face-threats
  • Irony
  • Logos
  • Negative face
  • On-line commenting
  • Op-eds
  • Positive face

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