As long as there has been news media, there has been audience feedback. This book provides the first definitive history of the evolution of audience feedback, from the early newsbooks of the 16th century to the rough-and-tumble online forums of the modern age. In addition to tracing the historical development of audience feedback, the book considers how news media has changed its approach to accommodating audience participation, and explores how audience feedback can serve the needs of both individuals and collectives in democratic society. Reader writes from a position of authority, having worked as a "letters to the editor" editor and has written numerous research articles and professional essays on the topic over the past 15 years.

chapter |14 pages


chapter 1|13 pages

Audience Comments, the Spice of History

chapter 2|17 pages

“Packets of Letters”

Audience Comments Before Freedom of the Press

chapter 3|17 pages

“A Sure Sign of Liberty, and a Cause of It”

Audience Feedback and the Emergence of the Free Press

chapter 4|23 pages

Commodification of Comments

Professional Bias and Gatekeeping of Letters to the Editor

chapter 6|20 pages

Concerning “Crackpots”

The Media's Love-Hate Relationship with Feedback

chapter 7|20 pages

“In My Opinion…”

Commenting as Individual Agency

chapter 8|19 pages

“We, the People…”

Commenting as Collective Action

chapter 9|15 pages


Gatekeeping in an Age without Fences