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Victims or conspirators? Understanding a hot-issue public’s online reactions to a victim cluster crisis

Victims or conspirators? Understanding a hot-issue public’s online reactions to a victim cluster... PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to qualitatively understand the reactions of online publics to a victim cluster crisis as the crisis unfolds and offer a new way of tracking online hot-issue publics using comments on online news articles.Design/methodology/approachThis research uses a mixed-methods approach, employing both descriptive quantitative techniques and qualitative thematic analysis.FindingsQualitative analyses of online news comments on BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post revealed that publics’ reaction to the cyber-attack on Sony, the following threats of attack, and Sony’s response to it largely ran counter to the situational crisis communication theory’s (SCCT) assumptions about victim cluster crises. Analyses also revealed a pattern in the volume of comments on the two online news outlets, supporting the conceptualization of hot-issue publics growing and decreasing as news coverage of an issue rises and falls.Research limitations/implicationsThe analysis was limited to one incident and two online media.Practical implicationsThis paper provides empirical support for the use of online news comments to track hot-issue publics and what is important to them. In addition, tracking the tone and content of the comments allows for an examination of the fit of SCCT assumptions and provides a way for practitioners to understand public opinion and adapt communication plans based on insights gleaned from such data.Originality/valueThis study is one of few to provide empirical support for the conceptualization of hot-issue publics, and to do so using online news comments. In addition, it is one of very few to study the SCCT in real-world settings, examining real publics’ reactions to real issues. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Communication Management Emerald Publishing

Victims or conspirators? Understanding a hot-issue public’s online reactions to a victim cluster crisis

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1363-254X
DOI
10.1108/JCOM-08-2016-0067
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to qualitatively understand the reactions of online publics to a victim cluster crisis as the crisis unfolds and offer a new way of tracking online hot-issue publics using comments on online news articles.Design/methodology/approachThis research uses a mixed-methods approach, employing both descriptive quantitative techniques and qualitative thematic analysis.FindingsQualitative analyses of online news comments on BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post revealed that publics’ reaction to the cyber-attack on Sony, the following threats of attack, and Sony’s response to it largely ran counter to the situational crisis communication theory’s (SCCT) assumptions about victim cluster crises. Analyses also revealed a pattern in the volume of comments on the two online news outlets, supporting the conceptualization of hot-issue publics growing and decreasing as news coverage of an issue rises and falls.Research limitations/implicationsThe analysis was limited to one incident and two online media.Practical implicationsThis paper provides empirical support for the use of online news comments to track hot-issue publics and what is important to them. In addition, tracking the tone and content of the comments allows for an examination of the fit of SCCT assumptions and provides a way for practitioners to understand public opinion and adapt communication plans based on insights gleaned from such data.Originality/valueThis study is one of few to provide empirical support for the conceptualization of hot-issue publics, and to do so using online news comments. In addition, it is one of very few to study the SCCT in real-world settings, examining real publics’ reactions to real issues.

Journal

Journal of Communication ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 7, 2017

References