#AoIR2018 has ended
Back To Schedule
Thursday, October 11 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Labour, Production and Consumption in Digital Culture Industries

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Nicole S. Cohen, Greig de Peuter
This presentation reports on an ongoing study of the wave of unionization in digital newsrooms in Canada and the United States. Since 2015, journalists at 24 online media outlets have organized unions. Taking a critical political-economic approach, our research reaffirms media labour’s capacity to fight back against capital’s efforts to wield internet technologies to intensify exploitation and weaken labour. Based on interviews with union staff and digital journalists leading the unionization campaigns in Canada, the US, and the UK, our presentation specifically addresses this research question: What motivates and enables primarily young digital journalists with limited experience in the labour movement to organize unions? Our presentation reveals five catalysts or conditions of possibility that generated and are sustaining the upsurge in digital media organizing. First, journalists see in unionization a strategy to mitigate difficult working conditions, including an intensive work regimen. Second, digital journalists are privileged workers in the sense that they are able to access unions. Third, the mostly young digital journalists who are the protagonists of the organizing have an openness to and confidence in collective action. Fourth, an impetus to organize is to diversify journalism and protect editorial integrity. Fifth, digital media workers are strategically positioned to take advantage of the vital force counter-publicity can play in disrupting the accumulation strategies of digital media firms. For internet studies, this study demonstrates that collective labour organizing is a key, yet understudied, entry point for engaging the contested materialities of the internet.

Michael Stevenson, Frank Harbers
This paper describes how to operationalize concepts from Bourdieu’s influential field theory using digital methods. Through a case study of journalistic organizations regarded as ‘innovative’ and ‘entrepreneurial’ we develop a set of research protocols for using empirical web research tools to determine how such actors are arranged within distinguishable yet interlocking hierarchies of market success and symbolic capital. In addition to some key findings about the politics of the ‘innovation’ label within journalism, our aim is to reflect on the feasibility of a ‘field analytics,’ or general set of digital methods for studying prestige and position-taking in diverse contexts of cultural production.

Jacob Nelson
Journalism professionals and researchers have recently argued that newsrooms adopt “audience engagement” as one of their chief pursuits. This term has many interpretations that stem from one underlying belief: journalists better serve their audiences when they explicitly focus on how their audiences interact with and respond to the news in the first place. Yet those who hope to make audience engagement normative must overcome news industry confusion surrounding how engagement itself should be defined and measured. Their efforts therefore present an opportunity to learn how journalism is changing, who within the field have the power to change it, and why they believe it should change. This study investigates two such efforts with ethnographic case studies of Hearken and City Bureau, organizations that aspire to make the audience a larger part of the news production process. An additional case study of The Chicago Tribune reveals how audience engagement advocates and legacy journalists differ in their assumptions about journalism and the public, and how they act on those differences. Drawing on Giddens’ structuration theory, this study illustrates what the future of journalism might look like should an audience-focused approach to news production become the norm, and exposes the obstacles that may prevent such a transformation from occurring.

Helen Kennedy, Robin Steedman, Rhianne Jones
Signing In forms part of a broader programme of research which explores the relationship between data, diversity and inequality in the media and creative industries. The empirical research will be complete by the end of the summer. Signing In uses focus group and interview methods to explore attitudes to sign in and related data mining: eight focus groups each with six participants (n=48) will take place, for which we will purposively sample for diversity (eg in relation to ethnicity, age, gender, class, disability, education), given the focus of the project on diversity and inequality, and because the effects of data practices on marginal groups can be more severe than on other groups, yet their voices are rarely heard (Lingel and boyd 2013). In addition to the focus groups, we will carry out eight in-depth, ethnographic interviews, which incorporate ‘ethnographic elements into standard interviews’ (Mason and Davies 2009: 590), such as observation of non-verbal dimensions, like participants demonstrating sign in experiences on their devices. One participant from each of the eight focus groups will be selected for interview, based on their contributions to the focus groups. Through these methods and related analysis of empirical data, the research aims to make contributions in four key areas, outlined below.

Thursday October 11, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Ballroom East