Re-digitizing television news : adoption of digital technology, engagement, and online news distribution in Colombian television networks

García P., Victor Manuel
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Teams of online professionals working for TV news organizations are reacting to a powerful new wave of technological innovations brought by online video platform and live streaming features as these new tools are now in the hands of the laymen, particularly through social media. This digital technological trend not only has increased the interaction between television, online, and social media, but it is also changing TV formats, visual storytelling, and patterns of video news consumption, distribution, and engagement. This dissertation takes a socio-technological approach to understanding these changes and explaining how online professionals working for TV stations are implementing digital technologies into their newsrooms to distribute content and engage their audiences. This analysis unpacks the logics behind the implementation of digital technology in TV newsrooms. The study employs participant observation at two TV news organizations, Caracol News and City-ElTiempo TV, and in-depth interviews (45 people) with online professionals to understand their practices and organizational arrangements when implementing digital technologies in the adaptation of the traditional medium to the digital media ecosystem. I found that both organizational arrangements between traditional and online media, and social media technological designs conditioned the adoption of digital technology, the transition of television media to online settings, and the production of online content at Caracol News and City News-El Tiempo Television. Likewise, I found that innovative forms of online video and broadcasting are emerging from the relationship between TV news media, online media, and digital technologies. The relationship between online teams working for TV stations and online users mimics the traditional relationship between television professionals and TV viewers. Finally, I showed that news distribution and engagement—two very important actions in the current online news making process—have been absorbed by social media platforms, particularly by Facebook. In short, there is a mutual shaping between television news organizations (society) and digital technology—including social media—that is transforming the traditional medium, generating uncertainness about its future, and its contribution to society. The study sheds light on the relationship between online and traditional media, digital technology and audiences, finding that television news structures are suffering renewed transformations.