Assessing the climate of public opinion in the user comments era: A new epistemology

Oren Soffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the role of user comments in evaluating the climate of public opinion. It aims to evaluate the relevance of quasi-statistical assessment of public opinion – which was tailored to traditional media – to the digital era. The article, based on 21 interviews with Israeli users of news websites, argues that comments-browsing on the Internet gives a new meaning to the notion of a quasi-statistical assessment of public opinion. The aggregation of different comments, each of which contains an implicit cue for the climate of public opinion, transforms them together into a direct cue. The effect of the merging of journalistic contents with user-generated contents side-by-side on the same website is also evaluated through the perspectives of persuasive press inference and exemplification theories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-787
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2017.


  • Epistemology
  • Israel
  • online news
  • public opinion
  • user comments


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