New Article: Innovation Clusters & Newsroom Change

The second article from my collaborative newsroom study with Jane SingerMelissa Tully, and Shawn Harmsen has just been published by Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. Whereas the first piece looked at job insecurity and newswork, this article uses diffusion of innovations theory to examine the various changes happening in American newsrooms. In Diffusion of Innovations, Roger’s notes that innovations rarely appear one at a time; instead, they typically overlap with each other or are introduced as packages. While most diffusion studies isolate and track a single innovation, we used Roger’s concept of “innovation clusters” to parse out three interdependent yet distinct changes taking place at the newsroom that was the focus of our case study. This cluster of innovations includes changes in technology use, changes in audience relationships, and changes in professional culture. Using survey and interview data, we conclude (spoiler alert):

Although our findings demonstrate that many respondents are broadly accepting of all three types of innovation, responses to changes in professional culture are generally more tepid than responses to changing community relationships and the adoption of new technologies. Overall, reaction to change hinges greatly on issues of relative advantage, compatibility, and complexity. Changes that newsworkers see as beneficial to the news product and consistent with their understanding of journalism are viewed favorably, while journalists are resistant to adopt changes that they believe challenge journalistic autonomy and judgment, hurt the quality of the news product, and/or have been communicated poorly by the company’s leadership. (p. 18)

The article, “Making Change: Diffusion of Technological, Relational, and Cultural Innovation in the Newsroom,” will be out in print later this year, but it is currently available through JMCQ’s OnlineFirst. The abstract is below:

Diffusion of innovations theory typically has been applied to the spread of a particular technology or practice rather than the interplay of a cluster of innovations. This case study of a news company undergoing significant change seeks to offer a deeper understanding of multi-faceted industry upheaval by considering the diffusion of three interdependent yet distinct changes. Findings suggest technological change faces the fewest hurdles, as journalists recognize the need to adapt their practices to newer capabilities. Changes to audience relationships face greater resistance, while responses to changes to the professional culture of journalism remain the most tepid.

New Article: Precarious Newswork

In the past few years, Jane SingerShawn HarmsenMelissa Tully and I have been looking into the changing newsroom. If you haven’t noticed, the news industry in the United States has been experiencing tremendous change. The four of us have been exploring how these changes affect those at the front lines of producing news.

Our first manuscript from this project was published online at Journalism Practice. The article “Newswork within a culture of job insecurity: Producing news amidst organizational and industry uncertainty” examines how uncertainty in the industry and at a specific company with a history of layoffs affects the news practices of those who remain behind. In it, we argue that a culture of job insecurity has a limiting effect on newsroom change as those who fear their jobs are in danger are unlikely to risk altering well-understood practices, while many others who perceive job security would rather accommodate than initiate change.

Here’s the abstract:

Rapid change in the news industry and the prevalence of layoffs, buyouts, and closings have led many newsworkers to experience job insecurity and worry about their long-term futures in journalism. Our research uses a case study of employees at an independently owned media company in the United States to explore the various ways newsworkers respond to this culture of job insecurity and how their responses affect efforts to change news practices. Findings demonstrate that those who believe their jobs are at risk are unlikely to change their practices and even some who perceive job security are reticent to initiate change. As a result, the culture of job insecurity in the news industry has a limiting effect on changes to journalism practice.

Featured image courtesy of Poynter.