Year: 2023 Source: Crisis. (2012). 33(4), 222–229. DOI: 10.1027/0227-5910/a000134 SIEC No: 20231098
Background: Events of extraordinary violence attract media attention. Recently, much media reporting has moved to the Internet, giving readers the possibility to comment online. Aims: To analyze the content of public cognitions and the emotional tonality of attitudes expressed in spontaneous Internet comments on a familicide-suicide case reported in the Estonian media. Methods: A content analysis is based on the comments of 6,333 readers following media coverage. Descriptive statistics were used for quantitative data analysis. Results: Of all comments, 27.6% were without manifest content. Manifest content categories were “value judgments” (35.2%), “risk and protective factors” (27.2%), and “critics of media portrayal” (10.0%). As to emotional tonality, the comments were most often angry (34.5%), ironic (24.7%), or neutral (23.3%). “Critics of media portrayal” had the most clearly pronounced emotional tonality, the majority being angry or approving. Comments about “value judgments” were most frequently anguished. Conclusions: An analysis of Internet comments can provide valuable information about value judgments and attitudes in society. From an ethical and preventive perspective, similar homicide and suicide stories should not be open for unmoderated public discussion. Nevertheless, the study represents an original methodological approach for such research and also provides some guidance for public relations campaigns.