Towards the operationalization of controversial news: a study of online news articles and reader comments during the 2017 presidential election in South Korea

Abstract

In this brief research note, we propose a set of concepts and methods for identifying and operationalizing controversial news items. Based on an analysis of online readers’ comments posted in response to political news articles in the lead-up to the most recent South Korean presidential election (May 9, 2017), we develop what we term as “controversy indicator.” We calculate a controversy score using the total number of reader comments and the proportion of “upvotes” (indicating approval) and “downvotes” (indicating disapproval) a given news article elicits. Our findings demonstrate the potential usefulness of the controversy indicator in understanding the contemporary news environment, which is becoming increasingly divisive and polluted with disinformation.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Hui Wung Woon, who had collaborated on an earlier piece in Korean. This work was supported by the 2018 Yeungnam University Research Grant (Grant No. 218A380075).

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Correspondence to Yeon-Ok Lee or Han Woo Park.

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Hyejin Park is regarded as co-first author.

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Kim, C.W., Park, H., Lee, Y. et al. Towards the operationalization of controversial news: a study of online news articles and reader comments during the 2017 presidential election in South Korea. Qual Quant 53, 1097–1108 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-018-0804-8

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Keywords

  • Controversy indicator
  • Election
  • News consumption polarization
  • Online news
  • Reader comment
  • South Korea