Twelve new ethnographies in Volume 2 of Making Online News

Making Online News is back with brand new research straight from online newsrooms of Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. After the success of the first volume of the book, that has sold over 1000 copies in the first two years and has received very positive reviews from key journals, we were encouraged to make a call for chapters for a whole new volume. The response was magnificent: More than 40 researchers shared with us their recent ethnographies.

The selection process was hard, but we ended up with twelve chapters that explore changes in newsroom organization (cross-media production, transitions to digital-only, radios exploring podcasting), the development of online news genres (breaking news, feature journalism, electoral campaign coverage) and the challenges for journalism beyond the newsroom (bloggers, news agencies, user participation).

The second volume includes a preface by the editors -also available in this website- on how to teach online journalism with Making Online News, with selections of chapters about key topics on using both volumes as reading material in the classroom. The epilogue by Pablo Boczkwoski suggests the forthcoming challenges for online journalism research.

You can meet Chris Paterson at the Peter Lang stand of the ICA 2011 conference in Boston, on Friday, May 27 at 12:00 pm.

Review in New Media & Society

We are excited reading the review that the influential journal New Media & Society has devoted to Making Online News in their August 2009 issue. Sue Robinson (U Wisconsin-Madison) is the author of a very positive critique of the book, that praises its “global perspective” and “nuanced analyses” thanks to “the authors’ rejection of any deterministic perspective”.

Robinson suggests two weaknesses of the book, acknowledging at the same time that the book “provides a solid platform” for further research in online journalism. She notes that many of the chapters are based on ethnographies conducted before 2003. Ethnography is a method that does not provide quick results, and often an author’s best analysis of their ethnographic research comes years after they gather data. In the book, evidence from the case studies is relevant beyond its temporal time frame, as it shows that innovation processes and professionals’ attitudes are prone to reproduce existing practices than create new ones. And in the long run, the value of Making Online News will be documenting a historical period that was critical in the definition of journalism on the Internet (1998-2007).

The author of the review also warns that “some more stringent practitioners of ethnography would take issue with the liberal employ of the term”. We agree. In the introduction to the book we observe that the definitions of “ethnography” are very fluid, and that some of the research in the book is not classically ethnographic. We feel it is a strength of the book to portray the reality of this method through the diverse strategies of the chapter authors. At the time the book was assembled there were few ethnographic projects on online newsrooms meeting more stringent definitions of the method and they are represented in the book. We feel the diversity of approaches is a contribution to the methodological discussion on the future of ethnography.