Inventing online journalism: Development of the Internet as a news medium in four Catalan online newsrooms
David Domingo. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. 2006
Online journalism has developed in several directions and rhythms, taking different shapes in different online news projects. Scholars have offered empirical evident that these directions are, in many occasions, far from the utopias envisioned in the 90s. We are still inventing online journalism. A comparative research focused on four case studies of Catalan online newsrooms traces the material and organizational constrains in the definition and use of hypertext, multimedia and interactivity –those hyped Internet features– by online journalists.
Professional routines and values of the four online newsrooms are analyzed, with the aim of finding the similarities and divergences among different media traditions: a national newspaper (El Periódico), a public broadcasting corporation (CCRTV), a local newspaper (Diari de Tarragona) and a public-funded news portal (laMalla.net). Observation of the journalists at work and in-depth interviews provide a close look at the context and development of each case, interpreted with a constructivist approach to the social adoption of new technologies.
Some of the findings of the study include: immediacy is the main value in three of the online newsrooms; the rest of the online journalism utopias are shaped by this decision; news wires are the main –and almost only– source for most of online news; small sized staffs and the culture of immediacy discourage online journalists from going out or contacting first-hand sources, specially in traditional media online newsrooms; online journalists in traditional media environments tend to downgrade the value of their work in regard to their offline mates; the online-only project overcomes some of the problems with a specialization strategy, having each journalist focused on particular topics, and they are more sensitive to explore utopias.
The author argues that more comparative studies at an international level on the organizational and material structure of online newsrooms are needed to offer media companies a realistic stand point to continue the invention of the internet as a news medium.
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