A Change of Routine: Understanding the Relationship Between Newspaper Reporter Routines and New Technologies in the Age of Media Convergence and Economic Turmoil
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This study examines the role of the reporter in the newsroom amid economic challenges and changes to technology over the past 10 years and how reporter routines have changed in response to those challenges and changes. The past 10 years are significant from a technological standpoint because of the rise of social media and the growth of video and use of smartphones. During that same time period, the recession of 2007 hit and caused a large number of layoffs and the need to restructure the newsroom due to smaller staffs—all of which affect reporter routines. This study employed in-depth interviews conducted at three newspapers across the country with business, features, news, and sports reporters. In addition, the managing editor and executive editor at each newspaper were interviewed because they, too, influence reporter routines. This study finds that reporters are working increasingly longer hours to address new duties created by technologies and social media. Sports, which was first to adopt new technology, was also the one to most harness the power of technology and enthusiastically use it in a variety of ways, from tweeting to blogging to creating video. Features came in second for embracing technology, while the news section adapted to it to a lesser degree, and business not at all. This finding was true at all three newspapers. On the economic side, staffing cutbacks have resulted in the elimination of investigative teams, as those reporters are needed for daily work. In addition, the cutbacks to copy editors, as well as the need for speed, have resulted in “community editing,” the reliance on readers to help edit materials once they have been posted. As surprising was the widespread shift to immediacy first, in that reporters are encouraged to write short stories for online posting, if necessary, followed with continual updates throughout the day until the story for the print edition was ready to be filed. All this results in a change of routines for reporters.