Why Are There So Few Comments on Mainstream Media Blogs?

In my Social Media Marketing 101 talk, I begin by reviewing seven fundamental shifts in media culture over the past decade. One of them is that old nugget of ‘conversation’, and how news consumers can talk back to news creators. My favourite example of this is the CBC News home page, which advertises its conversational aspect after every headline. On top of the whole two-way conversation business, the number of times a story has been recommended and commented upon is useful metadata for visitors.

Yesterday, I wondered aloud why so many blogs on mainstream media sites have so few comments. Consider, for example, the Global TV News blog. Most posts have no comments, and the most talked about recent post has all of four. I randomly picked a couple of blogs on The Province’s site, and the results are similar. It’s interesting to note how few comments Lisa Bettany’s blog on The Province site has compared to her personal blog, where she’s got lots.

There are exceptions, but most mainstream media blogs experience the same lack of conversation as, well, the average blog. The difference, of course, is that Global or The Province has a big built-in audience (both online and off) which they can direct at their blog content. When mainstream media sites like the CBC or The Province permit comments on stories, there tends to be torrents of discussion. One would think that the more informal blog posts would attract more interaction, but they don’t seem too. Maybe they’re simply too buried in the site?

Obviously, the lines between ‘a blog post’ and ‘an article’ are blurring everywhere, including on TV and newspaper sites. I don’t have any obvious answers for why mainstream media blogs attract so few comments. Maybe they’re just really under-read? What do you think?

I asked this question on Friendfeed and Twitter. Here are the Friendfeed responses, and I’ll embed the Twitter answers below, after the jump.

toddlucier: I&#39ve had cdn mainstream media block lots of my comments. Not exactly a social experience.

about 18 hours ago

pjdoubleyou: reader demographics makes sense to me, people not used to media interaction etc.

about 19 hours ago

8chocolate: Sometimes there&#39s ads btwn where U comment and maybe missed. Also never register to comment. Hate that.

about 19 hours ago

tofufighting: My opinion: its audience prob doesn&#39t think their comments will be responded to

about 19 hours ago

buzzbishop: registration restrictions? i know that keeps me from commenting

about 19 hours ago

dbarefoot: Why do so many mainstream media blogs have so few comments? Are they too buried in big sites? Reader demographics?

about 19 hours ago


  1. My guy reaction was that it was reluctance from commenters to register, but that doesn’t make any sense when, (a) as you say, and if I understand you correctly, news stories on the SAME SITE (with the same registration) get far more comments than blog posts, and (b) other non-media blogs that require registration get lots of comments.

    My guess is that somehow neither readers nor writers are taking the media blogs very seriously compared to news articles from the same source. And maybe a combination of heavy moderation and lack of response is making those who do comment feel like it’s not worth it?

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