This book investigates journalists’ work practices, professional ideologies, and the power relations that impact their work, arguing that reporters’ lives and livelihoods are shaped by digital technologies and new modes of capital accumulation.
Tai Neilson weaves together ethnographic approaches and critical theories of digital labor. Journalists’ experiences are at the heart of the book, which is based on interviews with news workers from Aotearoa New Zealand and the United States. The book also adopts a critical approach to the political economy of news across global and local contexts, digital start-ups, legacy media, nonprofits, and public service organizations. Each chapter features key debates illustrated by journalists’ personal narratives.
This book will be of great interest to researchers and students of journalism, media and communication, cultural studies, and the sociology of work.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Digital Reporter
1. Global Changes and National News
2. The Digitization of Journalism: Typewriter, Camera, and Electronic Tape
3. The Entrepreneurial Journalist and Subjectivities of Digital Labor
4. Social Media Metrics and the Reified Journalist
5. The News Machine
6. Unionizing Digital Newsrooms
Conclusion: Writing for Algorithms
Afterword: The Ideology Problem
Tai Neilson is a lecturer in media at Macquarie University, Sydney. His areas of expertise include the political economy of digital media and critical cultural theory. Tai has published work on journalism and digital media in Journalism, Triple-C, Fast Capitalism, and the Global Media Journal. He is a co-editor of the book Research Methods for the Digital Humanities. Tai earned his PhD in Cultural Studies from George Mason University in Virginia. He also has an MA in Sociology from the New School for Social Research in New York and a BA (Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington.
"Deftly combining political economy and cultural theory, Tai Neilson explains the significance of digital journalism for society and for the workers who labour in the industry. A must read for those who wonder and worry about the future of democracy in a media world driven by clicks, algorithms and dollar signs."
– Vincent Mosco, Queen's University, Canada, and Fudan University, China
"Tai Neilson has succeeded in bringing together political economy, materialistic and cultural studies approaches on the work of journalists in New Zealand and the United States. This results in a rich palette of resistance as well as exploitation, of experimentation as much as standardisation, of love and suffering for the job. This book marks an important step in the struggle for better working conditions and quality journalism."
– Mark Deuze, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
"All journalists are today digital workers operating in media organisations that have experienced the structural transformation towards digital capitalism. Tai Neilson’s book is an excellent study of digital journalists’ labour in digital capitalism. He shows how the digitalisation of journalism has in the context of capitalism been confronted by the intensification of exploitation, the reification of journalists’ work, and the ideology of entrepreneurship. This book is an essential work and a must-read for anyone who cares about a democratic public sphere and wants to understand digital journalism."
– Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster, UK
"One of the challenges in restoring trust in news is re-establishing that there is value in the work of professional journalists. Through detailed interviews with working journalists about the impacts of digital platforms, Tai Neilson identifies new ways to understand the invisible labor of news work, and how journalist can build a future that goes beyond "business as usual" in a time of great disruption."
– Terry Flew, University of Sydney, Australia
"Drawing from careful ethnographic research and a diverse range of critical theory, Tai Neilson expertly elucidates the politics of digital news work—both the exploitation of journalists and the potential for resistance. It is a devastating portrait, but also a hopeful one. I urge students and scholars of digital labor, political economy, and journalism studies—as well as concerned citizens who care about the future of media and democracy—to read this important book."
– Victor Pickard, University of Pennsylvania, USA