Identifying factors of online news comments

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Abstract

The purpose of this project was to identify the factors which should be studied based on the available components of the online comments and using available data analysis tools. The factors were the geographic locations, the number of readers' recommendations as a sentimental indicator, and top phrases of the comments. The selected news story was the execution of Troy Davis reported by The New York Times on September 21, 2011 (Severson, 2011). Troy Davis, an African American, was convicted of murdering an off-duty police officer in Savannah, Georgia in 1989. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the appeal despite worldwide opposition to Davis's death sentence. This story was selected due to the significant international level of attention it received, and the topic of “death penalty.” There were 1527 comments collected on December 22, 2011, 60 days after the story was published online. The comments were classified into 2-tier geographic categories based on the 4 regions and 9 divisions defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. The preliminary results indicated that the geographic locations, the number of readers' recommendations as a sentimental indicator, and top phrases of the comments were appropriate research factors for studying online news comments.

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