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Languages: English
Types: Doctoral thesis
Subjects: ccms, csi, pol
This thesis considers the importance to democracy of online spaces where citizens can engage in dialogue on issues of public concern. Specifically, it evaluates the BBC's news and features provision on its website dedicated to the 2005 UK Parliamentary General Election, entitled Election 2005. Particular attention is given to sections such as the Election Monitor, the UK Voters' Panel and Have your say, to which people were encouraged to submit their views and comments for posting. Given the leading status of BBC News Online in the UK (the remit for which is defined, in part, by its Royal Charter obligation to provide a public service), it is vital to examine the Election 2005 website and its role in the democratic process. \ud \ud The principal aim of this thesis is to analyse the ways in which BBC News Online deployed its website to facilitate spaces for citizens to engage in dialogue during the 2005 UK General Election. To achieve this aim, the thesis makes use of web dialogue analysis, which is a method proposed and defined for the purpose of this project. The case study is divided into three chapters: the first dealing with online news in which citizen voices were found to be marginalised; the second concerning different genres of online feature articles, wherein citizen voices was the most prominent source; and the third focussing on sections where people were encouraged to submit comments. \ud \ud Through analysing the nature of source utterances (quotations and paraphrases), and comments submitted to debate sections, the thesis found little dialogue taking place in any of the sections on the BBC's Election 2005 website. It argues this was caused by a) the deliberate intention of BBC staff to discourage dialogue, and instead facilitate a 'global conversation', b) the manual process used to publish comments to the site, and c) people being at the time unaccustomed to participate in any meaningful debate using online forums. In this way, the thesis seeks to contribute to a developing area of scholarship concerned with news media representations of national elections, online journalism and citizenship.
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