Why do Commenters Now Disagree So Often with Article Authors?

Executive Summary

  • One article proposes that commenters often argue against the author.
  • We propose an alternate hypothesis for why this so often occurs.


This topic started as a discussion around the article How to Understand Big Tech’s Degradation of Media

How German Media Has Been Similarly Degraded as US Media

In Germany, we are some years behind this development I guess but the direction is similar. The quality of newspaper articles is another symptom, a lot of copying of large media and newspaper agencies like DPA, extremely large media entities like Bertelsmann and Funke Mediengruppe cooperating e.g. in Content Alliance so you often get the same content in all papers and magazines. (this is) Partly a reaction to decrease of advertising income due to google etc but also a focus on increase of income regardless of lack of quality and pluralism.

There is an interesting article in German.

The 3rd point is interesting, about everybody without any insights in anything can get attention in forums, etc making it hard for high-quality journalism to stand out. – Dr. Rolf Paulsen 

The following quotation from the article recommended by Rolf caught my eye.

Why Authors Increasingly are Opposed to Their Readers and Commenters

Today the situation is different, and anyone who wants to recognize this new situation just has to look at the online forums and online comment pages of the newspapers. You can very often see that a journalist is writing. And he writes against his readers. It is mercilessly and often know-it-all panned by the majority of readers on the more or less open comment pages. Behind this is obviously what is explicitly formulated from time to time. The key word here is interpretative sovereignty. Until recently, let’s say until the year 2000, it was more or less clear with the journalists of newspapers, radio and television. Of course, one journalist was better known and more important than the other. Then the change began with the Internet. Readers developed their own view of the world and most importantly: They made their points of view public. Latent right-wing populist ideas did not always come to light, but often they did. Some journalists attract swarms of opponents. – Heise

The reason for this is not necessarily what the author points out. The author points out that the commenters essentially now have big egos. But I see that as less of an issue than something else. I see that the main reason is that the author will tend to write to the status quo and censor their PC message. The commenters do not have to be PC. Unlike the author, they do not have to write a comment that pleases the advertisers and other corporate interests where the publication is aligned and often disagrees with the author. This discrepancy is similar to that between the voters and the elected officials. Elected officials often pretend to be “democratically elected,” but their views tend, and policy tends to be in opposition to their constituents. Why? Because they really represent elite interests and only pretend to see the world as do the voters. Journalists pretend to be objective, but in reality, they represent elite interests. This means corporations, corporate malfeasance, covering up corruption, excusing concentrated power. There are exceptions. ProPublica would be one example. But they are a rare publication that actually challenges concentrated power.

Risk Aversion

I see a strong risk aversion on the part of journalists when they interview me. They tend to want to try to drive the interview down a highly conformist pathway. The journalist desires to take no risks and attribute controversial statements to an entity but never to endorse any view. I find, in many cases, the readers provide more insight than the author of the article. This is because current media often employes inexperienced writers who are cheap. If we think in the IT space, the coverage of a company is entirely complicit.

Would ComputerWeekly call out the real behavioral history of, say, IBM? Of course not.

You don’t find truth in the article, but you find it in the comments because the journalists are so cowardly and fired if they provided an honest view.


Modern media strongly tends to presume that the most conservative view supporting institutions must be the correct view. This view has nothing to do with reality but is the risk-averse approach to coming to conclusions. If one starts assuming that the most conservative proposal must be correct, it removes the open-mindedness to reach any number of conclusions. I now see most journalists following a very robotic modality, where they restrict their analysis only to what is low risk for them or what is maximally comforting.