Studying journalists in changing times: understanding news work as socially-situated practice

Industry insiders and media academics often voice unease about the transformations taking place in the global news industry. Despite its usefulness in drawing attention to the twists and turns of organizational change and innovation in news production, much of the research on this topic shows less interest in journalists’ situated experience than is helpful. This article suggests that academic attention might be usefully refocused to the changing nature and experiences of journalists as they encounter the changes taking place in their industry. Such a focus can be justified on theoretical grounds: the implications of change in the news industry for its traditional democratic role cannot be understood without understanding in detail what journalists do and how they do it. While acknowledging that news production takes place in the context of competitive commercial enterprise, the authors argue that fruitful avenues for empirical enquiry can be opened up by adopting a more practice-centred analysis. The article concludes by introducing recent research that joins this pursuit.