Toyin S. Onayinka, Asor K. Tsebee and Ayotunde Alao, Ph.D; Department of Mass Communication, Adeleke University
Habermas’s Public Sphere provided a platform of permeableness, permanence and freedom of discourse to groups that were generally seen but not heard. Therefore, the work investigated online newspapers comments section and how such comments could be situated within Habermas’s Public sphere. The study brought to the fore, through the identification of ‘tipping point comments’ the underlying normative influences in the selected internet public discourse by participants as it affected the ‘Chibok girls’ and ‘#BringBackOurGirls’ saga. It discovered that newspaper online comments were variegated even from a common theme. The paper therefore concluded that the presence of a unifying topical theme was not enough moderation to limit comments within a boundary of a dominant discourse. In newspaper online readers’ comments, anything and everything were able to have space and were therefore allowed. The paper recommended that such public sphere discourse should be seen as a form of feedback by government officials.
Keywords: Habermas, Public sphere, Chibok girls, newspaper, online comments