The transformation of the newsroom : the collaborative dynamics of journalists' work

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Date

2008-08

Authors

Schmitz Weiss, Amy Christine, 1976-

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Abstract

This study examines online news production through a cross-national comparative ethnography of two newsrooms: The Chicago Tribune in Chicago, Illinois and El Norte in Monterrey, Mexico. The researcher looks specifically at the extent of collaborative group work in the online newsroom. First, the researcher investigates the degree to which online newsrooms operate organizationally as collaborative groups when producing content for the website, as opposed to functioning individualistically when producing content for the website. The second facet examined is the cultural variability (Hofstede, 1980) of collaboration in the two online newsrooms, particularly whether the United States and Mexican online newsrooms support a collectivistic or individualistic and a high-context or low-context culture schema (Hofstede, 1980; Hall 1976). The last facet explored is how the collaborative behavior of the journalists in the two newsrooms supports or interferes with the practice of journalistic principles of verification and comprehensiveness and if this helps to make journalism better. This study found the El Norte newsroom has a collectivistic and high-context communication culture whereas The Chicago Tribune newsroom has an individualistic and low-context communication culture. Both newsrooms support the principles of verification and context in the news that is produced for the Website that helps to make the news accurate and comprehensive. It can be inferred, however, that the collectivistic, high-context communication culture is more supportive of a collaborative work environment that is conducive to making the journalists work together to help make the news accurate and comprehensive for the public. When the news is accurate and comprehensive, the public has better-informed citizens to make decisions in their daily lives as part of a democratic society. This study also has implications for the journalism and business industry as to the benefits of collaborative groupwork on the service or product outcome in an organization.

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