Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Breaking journalism down: Work, authority, and networking local news, 1997–2009
by Anderson, Christopher W., Ph.D., Columbia University, 2009, 328; 3373707
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation analyzes changing forms of local newswork and the shifting occupational status of news institutions during a period of cultural and economic transition. To better understand these economic, cultural, and organizational shifts in local journalism, the dissertation focuses on (1) challenges to professional journalistic status, (2) changing forms of newswork, and (3) the difficulties and possibilities of cross-institutional journalistic collaboration. These foci can be summarized as questions of how journalists work, how they work together, and how journalistic authority is changing. Given that the very definition of journalism has become highly contentious, this dissertation advances a research method known as “networked ethnographic analysis.” In this method, relevant on- and offline cultural producers in a single city (Philadelphia, Pa.) are mapped using social network analysis, which are then analyzed qualitatively through participant observation, online ethnography, archival research and in-depth interviewing.

How is newswork changing? To the degree reporting and editing in Philadelphia are changing, it is in inverse proportion to their degree of insularity from web-grounded notions of shifting concepts of news time, reporting at a distance, and increased demands for content. There are also emerging forms of newswork in Philadelphia, forms that include web production and varieties of formal and informal blogging. Journalists are also increasingly becoming conscious their audience, though in a highly quantitative fashion. How are journalists forging new collaborative chains with other institutionalized and deinstitutionalized newsworkers? They are rarely doing so. Cross-institutional collaboration between different professional and semi-professional news institutions was uncommon during the time period and in the location analyzed here, due in part to cultural barriers between institutions, and in part because of bureaucratic, organizational impediments. How is journalistic authority, finally, changing? The failure of local organizations to weave together a news production network out of the unbundled structures and practices of decomposing news institutions has resulted in a deeply fractured system of local journalistic authority.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gitlin, Todd
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 70/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Journalism, Mass communications
Keywords: Authority, Internet, Journalism, Journalism, online, Local news, Networking, Newswork
Publication Number: 3373707
ISBN: 978-1-109-34491-2
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