The objective of Making Online News is to bring the rich tradition of news production sociology to investigate the production of online journalism. After the success of Volume 1 (2008) the first edited collection of ethnographies of online newsrooms, published in 2008, the editors Chris Paterson and David Domingo have put together 12 new case studies in Volume 2 (2011). Chapters in the books are authored by well known journalism scholars and bright young researchers from a dozen of countries. A pedagogical guide suggests how to use both volumes in the classroom and the blog in this website is an open forum to debate the present and future of online journalism.

Enter the online newsroom

Until now, publications on the developing arena of online media have mostly consisted of theoretical discussions, descriptive overviews and empirical research focused on content, producer’s attitudes, and audience behaviours. Little has been published about the daily work of online journalists, how it differs from traditional media production, and what consequences it has for the character and quality of online news. We aim to fill this void. Research has tended to stay outside the doors of online newsrooms, and there is a lot to learn from entering.

Understand the development of online journalism

Online journalism has taken center stage in debates about the future of news. Instead of speculating, this volume offers rich empirical evidence about actual developments in online newsrooms. The authors use ethnographic methodologies to provide a vivid, close analysis of processes like newsroom integration, the transition of newspaper and radio journalists to digital multimedia production, the management of user-generated content, the cov- erage of electoral campaigns, the pressure of marketing logics, the relationship with bloggers or the redefinition of news genres.

The chapters in the volumes go beyond the usual discussion in online news debates on what the new medium could be; they show how the Internet has actually been incorporated to newsrooms and what decisions online editors and journalists have made. They explain that many factors constrain the development of online news; factors that we need to be aware of to take online journalism to the next step.

They describe, for example, how from the many ideals about how the Internet could make journalism better, only one, namely immediacy, has been widely adopted by online newsrooms. The professionals are exploring other ideals, such as audience participation, with reluctance. A reason identified by authors in the book is that immediacy resonates more easily with existing journalistic culture than engaging in a dialogue with the audience.

Ethnography let the authors understand the role of professional culture, business pressures, organizational change, competition, reporters’ technical skills and their image of the audience in shaping online news as we know it today.

A toolbox for professionals, scholars and students

Online editors often complain that they are exploring the Internet as a new medium without a map, and online journalism instructors say that they have a hard time explaining to their students the work routines of online newsrooms. These books offer tools for both of them: to make informed decisions and to describe in detail current developments and practices.

For scholars, the books are an invitation to follow the path of ethnography (usually neglected because it is time-consuming and offers results only after a long-term analysis) and counter the technologically deterministic approaches that are still often behind many studies of online news. See the pedagogical guide for a suggestion of clustered readings from chapters of both volumes of Making Online News.

First-hand data, international scope

The volumes provide revealing, current qualitative data and innovative theory based on that data, with an international perspective that offers the reader the opportunity to understand the commonalities and differences of online journalism in countries such as the US, the UK, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Australia, Malaysia, China and Zimbabwe.