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Rebuilding the News

Rebuilding the News: Metropolitan Journalism in the Digital Age

C. W. Anderson
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 218
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  • Book Info
    Rebuilding the News
    Book Description:

    Breaking down the walls of the traditional newsroom,Rebuilding the Newstraces the evolution of news reporting as it moves from print to online. As the business models of newspapers have collapsed, author C. W. Anderson chronicles how bloggers, citizen journalists, and social networks are implicated in the massive changes confronting journalism.

    Through a combination of local newsroom fieldwork, social-network analysis, and online archival research,Rebuilding the Newsplaces the current shifts in news production in socio-historical context. Focusing on thePhiladelphia Inquirer, thePhiladelphia Daily News, Anderson presents a gripping case study of how these papers have struggled to adapt to emerging economic, social, and technological realities.

    As he explores the organizational, networked culture of journalism, Anderson lays bare questions about the future of news-oriented media and its evolving relationship with "the public" in the digital age.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0935-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Language & Literature, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Timeline of Digital News: Developments in Philadelphia and Nationally
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. INTRODUCTION Local Journalism on the Brink
    (pp. 1-12)

    In August of 2000, a hoary political institution—the Republican National Convention, assembling in Philadelphia—confronted a new kind of media network. As the national Republican Party descended on the city in the summer of 2000, its delegates were met by hundreds of convention protesters carrying cell phones, videocameras, and old-fashioned pencils and paper notebooks, all calling themselves reporters and all networked into a website that displayed reports from the street protests as news broke. Growing out of the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999 and expanding to several other American and European cities in the months that...

  6. PART I How Local Journalism Went Online

    • 1 Philadelphia’s Newspapers Go Online (1997–2008)
      (pp. 15-33)

      In 1997, Jennifer Musser-Metz, a web producer at, sat at her desk turning piles of raw interview tape into RealAudio files, preparing them for uploading to the World Wide Web. The interviews were by thePhiladelphia Inquirer’s foreign correspondent Mark Bowden, and the subject was the American military adventure in Somalia of 1993, one of the defining episodes of the early Clinton presidency. Bowden had not yet published the book that would bear the titleBlack Hawk Down,and the Ridley Scott film was four years away. But as Bowden and his editors at the newspaper prepared to run...

    • 2 Alternate Paths in the Transition to Online Journalism (2000–2008)
      (pp. 34-52)

      The Philadelphia branch of the Independent Media Center (IMC) movement, a network of more than 150 participatory media projects around the world, opened its doors in 2000 to cover protests at the Republican National Convention. One irony of the Philly IMC’s early journalistic success is that the organization was originally conceived as a limited, “tactical” media intervention documenting a rolling series of political protests. It was not originally seen as a permanent “citizen journalism” project per se.¹ While it would be a mistake to identify the establishment of the Philly IMC with the “birth” of participatory journalism in Philadelphia, the...

  7. PART II Local Newswork in the Digital Age

    • 3 A Day in the Life of Twenty-First-Century Journalism (July 16, 2008)
      (pp. 55-82)

      On Wednesday, July 16, 2008, an early-morning news story broke inside thePhiladelphia Inquirernewsroom. It was not a dramatic tale; nor did it shape city politics and culture for years or even days to come. Indeed, it some ways it was the kind of story that even journalists themselves shudder to admit they take seriously: it was a report of a car crash, a multiple-fatality accident on Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia. What turned this story from a run-of-themill crash piece into a story worth devoting news resources to, in the minds of the reporters and editors at the...

    • 4 How News Circulates Online: The Short, Happy News Life of the Francisville Four (June 2008)
      (pp. 83-100)

      This chapter broadens Chapter 3’s ethnographic analysis of newswork, focusing on how a single news story—the wrongful arrest of four area home owners on trumped-up charges—diffused across the entire Philadelphia news ecosystem. Chapter 3 looked at newswork practices from the vantage point of the traditional newsrooms; the events discussed in this chapter also occurred inside the editorial nerve centers where newsroom managers, bloggers, and reporters exercised their news judgment. However, the chapter also examines how the story in question leapfrogged across different media and how different news outlets contributed original reporting, analysis, and commentary to the journalistic mix....

  8. PART III Building News Networks

    • 5 What We Have Here Is a Failure to Collaborate (2005–2009)
      (pp. 103-132)

      At approximately 10:00 A.M. on an ordinary Monday at the offices of thePhiladelphia Daily Newson 400 North Broad Street, a well-sourced columnist took a surprising phone call: Anne d’Harnoncourt, longtime director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a leading member of the city’s cultural elite, had passed away suddenly the previous night. She was only sixty-four and seemed to be in excellent health; her death came as a shock to members of the tabloid’s staff. Also something of a shock was the possibility that, if it could report the tip quickly enough, theDaily Newsmight scoop...

    • 6 Dark Days and Green Shoots (2009–2011)
      (pp. 133-158)

      As the first decade of the twenty-first century drew to a close, the Philadelphia media ecosystem seemed to be perched a knife’s edge between rebirth and collapse. While earlier parts of this book alluded to the various pressures affecting the professional status and occupational stability of journalists and journalistic organizations, this chapter explicitly discusses exogenous factors reshaping journalistic work: the encroachment of web metrics into formerly autonomous journalistic practices, the increasing precarity of newswork (as the number of digital content producers increases and the ability of news organizations to extract revenue from advertising declines), and the fragility of modern informational...

  9. CONCLUSION Reporting and the Public in the Digital Age
    (pp. 159-166)

    In the dead of night on November 30, 2011, protesters affiliated with Occup Philadelphia—the ideological grandchildren, perhaps, of the anti-globalization activists who stormed the Republican National Convention in 2000 with their protest banners and digital cameras—were evicted from Dilworth Plaza. Reporters with thePhiladelphia Daily NewsandPhiladelphia Inquirerwere on the scene, transmitting developments to Twitter’s live coverage platform Cover It Live. At the same time, the long-dormant Philly IMC had reawakened, providing a raft of participatory media coverage of the protest. Blogs and Twitter feeds sprang into action, some chronicling the midnight expulsion, and others weighing...

  10. APPENDIX: Methodology
    (pp. 167-176)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 177-194)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 195-210)
  13. Index
    (pp. 211-217)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 218-218)