chapter  6
20 Pages

Multi-skilling as a Solution? Changing Workfl ow and Journalistic Practice and the Implications for International


Digital technologies and the digitization of editorial production processes have had profound effects on journalists and their news (Lambert 2007, 61). Digitization has progressively brought together what were previously in analog environments discrete steps in sourcing, constructing, disseminating and receiving journalism. In fully digitized form these now occur seamlessly (Australian Broadcasting Corporation 1999, 4). Digitization has allowed newsrooms to be “integrated” (Powell 1998, 62). Yet integration “is about more than bringing digital media into the main newsroom. The very nature of the newsroom has changed. . . . It’s about creating a single hub for all editorial decisions, and a single workfl ow for all stories” (Kirby 2007). Starting with the computerized input of “copy” by reporters in newspapers in the 1970s (Frost 2003, 29), the level of integration has escalated from intra-to inter-and even extra-media, bringing together across multiplying platforms text, sound and vision; print, broadcasting and online; and producers and users. Two diametrically opposed broad responses to these developments have emerged (Curran 2010). Optimists believe that these new conditions are “exciting, and rich with possibility” (McNair 2009, 349). Pessimists fear that international news in particular will be made superfi cial, sensational, less “professional”, loosely quality controlled and more narrowly focused on the so-called developed world (Berger 2009; Manning 2008, 253; Matheson and Allan 2009, 57, 71). In television especially, studies have found that digitization shapes the news production process (Chen 2003; Lin and Davidson 2007; Yen 2005). However, empirical studies are needed to untangle the complicated interactions between changing news technologies and journalistic practices (Cottle and Ashton 1999, 26) to provide data with which to then assess the likely impact on the fl ows and counter fl ows of international news.