Toward a tabloid press : the impact of news aggregation on content in 12 US news websites
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News aggregation is a developing form of professional journalism practice, one uniquely adapted to contemporary communication realities. News companies have always gathered content from a variety of sources when producing their products. However, the sheer volume of information, number of participants and speed of consumption online requires news workers to adopt new routines of collecting and disseminating information. These routines, some argue, fundamentally differ from the beat structure of traditional journalism. As recent ethnographic work has found, online news workers might value a sense of audience and newsworthiness over and above norms like objectivity and getting a good story (Anderson, 2013; Agarwal & Barthel, 2013). As economic pressures continue to strain resources and shrink the number of reporters on staff, news aggregation, both as a practice and a digital filtering tool, is becoming a staple of modern newsrooms. Few researchers have explored the impact of these divergent routines on content. Through a secondary data analysis of the Pew Research Center’s 2012 News Coverage Index, this thesis examines the topics and news-drivers in 12 US news websites. The analysis finds that in-house, so-called “original reporting” tends to rely on institutional actors and hard news topics. When stories are aggregated from a third-party source, soft news topics and celebrity stories are preferred. Finally, different professional practices seem to be favored depending on the type of online news organization. The findings suggest scholars, and those interested in journalism education, think of organizational pressures and professional norms as fluid online, particularly when connecting theories of news work to output in terms of content.