David Michael Ryfe
This chapter canvases the literature in the sociology of news production for explanations as to why, in the face of great change around them, American newspapers have failed to innovate. It finds three sorts of explanations in this literature: journalists are anchored to habits; they have deep investments in traditional practices and values; and they routinely re-enact long-standing definitions of what journalism is and of what it is for. Each explanation is elucidated through examples taken from the author's recent ethnographic work in several newsrooms.
According to many observers, journalism in the United States is undergoing a profound transformation. The argument rests principally on the new possibilities for cultural production brought on by the Internet. The Internet opens the doors into the field of journalism to many new entrants, thereby displacing journalists from their traditional role as gatekeepers of public conversation. As a multimedia networked medium, for example, the Internet creates the possibility of nonlinear – in other words non-authorial – storytelling (Pavlik, 2001). It allows “people formerly known as the audience” to produce their own news (Gillmor, 2004). It gives political actors an opportunity to reach their constituencies without the mediation of journalists (Bimber, 2003). It changes the way in which knowledge in public life is ...