Labour, new media and the institutional restructuring of journalism

  • Compton J
  • Benedetti P
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Abstract

Thousands of news workers were laid off in the United Kingdom and North America in 2008-2009. While daily newspapers were particularly affected, labour cuts also hit broadcasters and news magazines. Popular commentary has often attempted to explain the cuts as a result of Internet competition, aging audiences for news and a slumping global economy. Optimists suggest the rise of new media practices such as blogging and citizen journalism have, despite the contraction of newsrooms, expanded the range of information and opinion available to citizens. This paper is an attempt to clarify what is an unquestionably chaotic moment in journalism. Our focus is the labour of reporting*the quotidian work of gathering information of public interest and packaging it into a story. The paper uses Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory to contextualize the use of new media technologies by amateur and professional journalists in an attempt to understand the power relations that inform the work of reporting. We argue that labour rationalization in combination with the use of new technologies, shrinking audiences, 24-hour news cycles, and intensified hyper-commercialization is fundamentally reorganizing the division of labour in newsrooms. Importantly, we argue there is little empirical evidence to suggest that unpaid citizen journalists will replace the lost labour of reporting*the work of collecting information, synthesizing it and presenting it for public consumption via storytelling.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Bourdieu
  • Citizen journalism
  • Institutions
  • Labour
  • New media
  • Social fields

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Authors

  • James R. Compton

  • Paul Benedetti

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