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Cross-media News Work - Sensemaking of the Mobile Media (R)evolution

Doctoral thesis
Authors Oscar Westlund
Date of public defense 2012-01-20
ISBN 978-91-88212-96-2
Publisher University of Gothenburg
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Language en
Keywords Cross-media news work, Journalism, Technology, Business, Newspapers, Mobile media, Convergence, Sensemaking, Participation, Media Production
Subject categories Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified


This dissertation makes a longitudinal study of transforming tensions in media production processes. It focuses on the thoughts and actions of new and mobile media in the interplay between staff from editorial-, business and IT departments in an organization coupled with the old newspaper medium. It makes the story of change processes in a relatively typical large regional newspaper organization in the Western world (Göteborgs-Posten, Sweden). This case-study from Sweden, a country with high newspaper and ICT-diffusion, contributes to expand the geographic gaze of research into journalism, business and technology in a digital era. The aim of the dissertation is to study sensemaking of mobile media over time, which has been done through numerous in-depth interviews with a broad selection of media workers from 2008 to 2011. The sensemaking approach conceives interpretations and actions to take place in heterogeneous and circular patterns, and make possible for studying how media workers make sense by structuring and constructing unknown matters such as mobile media. Deriving from previous research on transforming news media organizations, the dissertation has considered four particular tensions in order to grasp important and contemporary contours of change. This involves investigating how tensions come into play between different actors, namely how media workers from the editorial, business and IT departments make sense of and negotiate their inherent boundaries. It also focuses how the tension between old and new comes into play, as these media workers of a newspaper organization (the old) make sense of mobile media (the new). Two particularly important tensions are being reshaped when it comes to their role as a news media producer. The first concerns producer vs. user, namely how their former relationship to users as linear is potentially being refashioned to accommodate for participation. The second concern humans vs. machines (technology), that is, how media producers relate to machines carrying out tasks previously performed by journalists. The study bear witness not only on how mobile media was shaped in a formative phase of development, but also how this work transformed how journalism, business and technology was approached and perceived. Newspaper journalism used to be tangled with print, but relatively disentangled from commercial and technological forces. Now, journalism is becoming decoupled from the upside of commercial contributions, and simultaneously is becoming increasingly blended with technology and commerce in its production, presentation and distribution. These transformations deserve further attention.

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