Interstitial Dialogues: A Phenomenology of News-Comments




microposts, news comments, reading experience, phenomenology, interface, news layout


This paper presents findings from a study that examined the phenomenological detail of the reading process involved in everyday encounters with news microposts. In recent decades, reading the news has become characterised by the micro-texts of social media, but the fine-grained detail of this encounter as a reading experience is often overlooked. In a series of reading exercises, long-form news articles and short-form news comments were shown to structure different reading experiences in terms of meaning and dialogue. These differences were linked to the specific layout of the texts within the website interface. The high volume of negative space surrounding the comments explained the dialogical mode by which the participant-readers made sense of these texts. The findings contribute to understandings of social media as phatic communication and challenge pessimistic accounts that link micro-texts to a decline in critical engagements with the news.