Into the Newsroom
Exploring the Digital Production of Regional Television News
Into the Newsroom provides a rigorous investigation into the everyday rituals that are performed in the television newsroom, and offers a unique suggestion that news is both a highly haphazard and yet technologically complicated process of deliberate construction involving the interweaving of reflexive professional journalists as well as developing, unpredictable technologies. Arguing specifically for a recognition and an exploration of technological agency, this book takes the reader on an exciting journey into the digital newsroom, using exclusive observation and interviews from those journalists working on the BBC's recent pilot project of local television news as part of its empirical evidence.
This is an essential introduction for both those seeking to understand news processes at the level of every day routines and practices, and for those students and scholars who are eager to adopt new and challenging ways to theorise news as practice.
Table of Contents
This will outline the main aims of the book which is to identify, explore and develop an understanding of regional and local news production, by adopting an alternative theoretical focus to the reading of news. The purpose of a new theoretical focus is to examine the detailed construction of news facts, to illustrate that news production is neither dominated by ideologies that are slavishly followed by unwitting journalists, nor manufactured by news organisations whose primary function is to enhance the democratic potential of society. Internal routines, self-reflexive practices, technological contingency and a plethora of unstable and constantly changing practical constraints and opportunities govern news production.
This will provide an over view of existing literature and show how the argument of this book will differ in both its practical and theoretical approach. It will outline traditional studies of media production, as well as provide some context and explanation of Actor Network Theory, and explain how this can enhance an exploration of news. It will discuss some of the limitations of previous studies of news production and explain how this book may offer an original and more detailed explanation of news work.
This will provide a more detailed account of the ethnographic methods used for the research carried out in the book. It will outline why the research was conducted in particular environments, specific newsrooms and video journalism bureaux. It will also discuss any methodological implications of the way in which the research was carried out and the data gathered. It will also provide a more detailed methodological rationale as to the use of ANT in reading news. The chapter will also summarise my own experience as a BBC journalist and producer, thus providing the empirical evidence with further methodological validity.
The following four chapters will be specifically empirical, looking at separate aspects of regional news production. This chapter provides an analysis of the digital infrastructure of the BBC Nottingham newsroom, in particular the "media hub" – a digital matrix through which all audio and video material is processed and transmitted. It will explore the ramifications of operating a digital central server and will provide observation and interviews with those who use the hub, or who come into contact with it on a daily basis. Interviews include production journalists, video journalists, media hub operators, producers, directors and technicians. The chapter will also provide diagrams and photographs of the newsroom and the digital matrix.
This chapter will be dedicated to an in depth study of the aggressive implementation of video journalism, known as Personal, digital Production, into the BBC regional newsroom in Nottingham. Nottingham has been chosen as it has been selected by BBC Nations and Regions as the test bed for developing video journalism more quickly than any other region. The chapter will also incorporate two weeks observation and interviews at the BBC training school in BBC Newcastle, where it will examine Michael Rosenblum’s training routine, including separate interviews with him and other BBC trainers, as well as trainees attending the course and follow up interviews when trainees have returned to their separate regions. It will then concentrate on an analysis of how successfully Nottingham has adopted video journalism production, examining managerial strategies and directives, daily working practices, and how the new technology has affected the existing news production set up. Using ANT as a theoretical tool, I will explore how and in what way new technologies determine the alteration of news agendas and the outcome of the final news product.
This chapter will concentrate on the development of the use of Live reporting, paying particular attention to the effect of the technologies that are being used, structuring the analysis in such a way that a team of satellite truck operatives and separate journalists, producers and directors are observed and interviewed during a week’s daily operation of live broadcasting.
Having spent the last three chapters concentrating on the more technological aspects of digital news production, this chapter will be dedicated to the daily tasks and routines of the journalists on the news production network. It will look at how they relate to one another, how decisions are made, and changed, and how they interact with the new technologies. It will also provide further analysis of the use of ANT and critique certain aspects of ANT as a theoretical tool for defining and exploring human action in the wake of digital technologies.
This chapter will look at the development of the BBC pilot project in Birmingham, paying particular attention to the use of the associated digital technologies, the development of video journalism training and opportunities, a second look at the BBC training centre in Newcastle, and how the BBC Birmingham newsroom is adapted to provide a local TV service. It will provide a comparative analysis of local TV in the USA and in Europe and will involve observation of journalists and managers in the UK and overseas, as well as interviews with those directly involved in the BBC project. It will look at any earlier audience findings and conclude with an analysis of the BBC’s own decision as to whether or not to extend the service throughout the BBC’s regions.
The conclusion will return to traditional readings of media effects and whilst acknowledging their worth, will argue that this book has provided a separate and original look at the mechanics of news production in the digital age, pointing out further important technological developments- as well as shown how a unique theoretical approach to exploring media, at the specific level of practice, can greatly enhance out understanding of what we all view on our TV screens.
Emma Hemmingway is Senior Lecturer in Journalism at the Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism at Nottingham Trent University. She previously worked for the BBC over a period of 12 years within a variety of roles, which included TV reporter, producer and also news editor.