Winner of the 2011 Best Book Award, Communication and Information Technologies Section of the American Sociological Association
Before news organizations began putting their content online, people got the news in print or on TV and almost always outside of the workplace. But nowadays, most of us keep an eye on the headlines from our desks at work, and we have become accustomed to instant access to a growing supply of constantly updated stories on the Web. This change in the amount of news available as well as how we consume it has been coupled with an unexpected development in editorial labor: rival news organizations can now keep tabs on the competition and imitate them, resulting in a decrease in the diversity of the news. Peeking inside the newsrooms where journalists create stories and the work settings where the public reads them, Pablo J. Boczkowski reveals why journalists contribute to the growing similarity of news—even though they dislike it—and why consumers acquiesce to a media system they find increasingly dissatisfying.
Comparing and contrasting two newspapers in Buenos Aires with similar developments in the United States, News at Work offers an enlightening perspective on living in a world with more information but less news.
Selected book reviews:
“The author does what a good organizational ethnographer should do, which is to make his subjects come alive—to clarify the premises his subjects hold and the pressures they face so that the reader understands their choices. He introduces us not only to the frenetic pace of the online newsroom but to the more relaxed and independent atmosphere of the features department, as well as illuminating the complex relations between print reporters and their online counterparts. [...] this fine study of journalists and their readers may hold implications for other industries and work worlds as diverse as finance, product engineering, management consulting, weapons-systems design, and higher education.”
–Paul DiMaggio, Administrative Science Quarterly
“In the tradition of classic sociology of news studies from the 50s to 70s, Boczkowski is among a handful of scholars who are breathing new life into the field. This book will become part of the new canon of sociology of news and scholarship on innovation, imitation, and use of technology in organizations. It is useful and essential reading for scholars and graduate students.”
–Kimberly Meltzer, Science, Technology & Human Values
“Boczkowski’s ground-breaking book offers a pathway to understanding the shortcomings of journalism in the early days of the digital age. Although it is based on data collected in the southern part of the Western Hemisphere, its lessons are relevant worldwide. The implications of such a theoretical framework can guide research on news across media. In that case, imitation might be more than just flattery. It might help develop a new paradigm for understanding journalism in the digital age.”
–John V. Pavlik, Social Forces
“News at Work is [a strong] work conceptually, methodologically, and in its overall contribution to the field. Boczkowski skillfully combines rich newsroom ethnographic data, a series of in-depth interviews with a diverse group of news consumers, and a meticulous longitudinal content analysis of print and online newspapers in Argentina to provide a nuanced and insightful look at news production and consumption. [...] As a result of this multifaceted approach, we learn not only what changes are taking place among news producers, products, and consumers as the internet becomes a crucial news medium but also how and why those changes are being enacted and how each affects the others.”
–Jane B. Singer, New Media & Society
“Boczkowski’s contribution is extremely important to the field. He elucidates the way in which journalists imitate each others’ work—within the technological and organizational field—and empirically proves imitation’s rise. He also shares with us a story of news as a new cultural dimension of the workplace. He brings these thoughts together to consider what these effects mean for the quality of democratic discourse, what Boczkowski calls a ‘spiral of sameness’—one that has likely deleterious effects on the quality of democratic discourse.”
–Nikki Usher, Journal of Communication
Download the introduction.
Available at Amazon.