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Subject: AEJ 95 RussialJ CTP Computers and transformation of journalism
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:AEJMC Conference Papers <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 28 Jan 1996 19:49:16 EST
Content-Type:text/plain
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"Computers, Ambivalence and the Transformation of Journalistic Work"
 
 
 
 
 
 
John T. Russial
University of Oregon
 
 
School of Journalism and Communication
1275 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1275
 
 
E-Mail: [log in to unmask]
Phone: 503-346-3750
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Paper submitted to the AEJMC Communications Technology and Policy Division,
 1995.
 
 
"Computers, Ambivalence and the Transformation of Journalistic Work"
 
        Newspaper professionals have had a love-hate relationship with computers
 
          for more than two decades. Computers have greatly simplified such
tasks as
 
          writing and rewriting and have made it quite a bit easier to edit
copy.
 
         They have improved news-gathering by placing vast amounts of online
 
     information at journalists' fingertips, enabling reporters to sort
 
    extensive databases and find relationships that once would have taken
 
       months. In these ways, and others, computers have enhanced the
professional
 abilities of news gatherers as well as editors. Computers also have turned
 some copyeditors into compositors, designers into electronic paste-up
 
        operatives and photographers into digital darkroom technicians.
        Computerization has improved overall productivity and efficiency of
 
      newspaper pre-press operations by shifting work once done by production
 
         departments into the newsroom--automating the work of compositors and
other
 blue-collar employees. And as a result, the profession of journalism has
 
          moved toward the craftlike work of production for a significant number
of
 
          practitioners. This shift is where the deepest roots of ambivalence
about
 
          newsroom computers are based, in a transformation of intellectual work
that
 does not fit neatly into current theories about information technology and
 work.
        Ambivalence itself is a problem -- it is an indicator of dissatisfaction
 
          -- and it is reasonable to suspect that ambivalence can lead to high
 
      turnover and brain drain, which have been cited as important issues facing
 
          newspapers.[1] But there are potentially greater concerns. One of the
most
 
         serious issues in newsroom computerization, for example, is the loss of
 
         newsroom positions to production considerations, even as the percentage
of
 
          such newsroom positions increases.[2] There is evidence to support
this
 
      contention, but there is no analytical framework to ground it. Several
 
        studies indicate that paginators spend a substantial amount of their
 
      workday on production tasks, at least 20 percent and probably more.[3] If
 
        enough editors are not hired to make up for this loss of editing time,
the
 
          redefinition of editing to include electronic makeup represents a
 
   significant loss of newsroom editing positions.[4] Other production-based
 
        systems, such as digital darkrooms, might have a similar impact.[5] But
such
 
          effects are difficult to pin down because journalists adjust their
 
    behavior. They limit the time they devote to journalism in order to meet
 
          production needs. Consequently, it has been easy to dismiss such
effects as
 transitory phenomena -- problems that will disappear as systems and
 
      training improve. Likewise, it is easy to marginalize the many concerns
 
         expressed anecdotally by journalists as carping or Luddism.
        In the journalism academy, studies of computerization and work remain, on
 
          one hand, a loose collection of indicators of trouble, such as time
 
     constraints,[6] job dissatisfaction[7], burnout[8] and ambivalence.[9] On
the other
 
         hand, there has been no systematic way to frame the various positive
 
      impacts of information technology, such as the improvements in
          newsgathering that result from electronic database access[10] and
computer
 
        assisted reporting software and hardware.[11]
        This paper is an attempt to analyze news work and computerization, to
 
        suggest a framework for understanding the impacts and to provide
 
  suggestions for empirical study. It will examine what has been reported
 
         about newsroom computerization in light of debates in fields that have
more
 thoroughly analyzed and discussed issues of technology and work. It will
 
          argue that theoretical approaches outlined in sociology, industrial
 
     relations and management help explain the experience of news professionals
 
          who use advanced information technology. Newsroom experience suggests,
 
        however, that a crucial revision is needed if we are to better
understand
 
          the impacts of computers on newspaper professionals, particularly the
 
       problematic impacts.
 
Background
        About 20 years ago, newspapers began to introduce information technology
 
          into newsrooms and, in so doing, began to redefine the jobs of
reporters
 
          and editors. The process began slowly with optical character
recognition
 
          equipment -- the infamous "scanners" -- in the early-to-mid-'70s,
moved
 
         rapidly into VDTs in the mid-to-late-'70s, and somewhat slowly into
 
     pagination[12] in the '80s. In 1984, management scholar Nancy Carter
identified
 computers as a "predominate technology" in newspapers.[13] Since then,
 
     computerization of news work has intensified. Today, reporters use
 
    text-editing systems and library systems. Many use spreadsheet and database
 software as well as E-Mail and other internet services. Editors, graphic
 
          artists and photographers use all of the above as well as pagination,
 
       online and in-house graphics systems and digital darkroom and archiving
 
         systems.
        Computers have been hailed as the journalists' powerful new tools, but in
 
          newsrooms, as in many other white-collar workplaces, computers are
much
 
         more than tools. Because of computerization, many editors are now both
 
        journalist and printer. They spend much of their workday performing
 
     computer-based tasks that one or two decades ago were done by compositors
 
          and other production workers using craft-based technology. Pagination
is
 
          the most noticeable example. Copyeditors and designers who paginate
spend a
 significant portion of their time doing on a computer screen what
 
    composing workers did with Xacto knives.[14] A newer technology is the
digital
 
          darkroom, which computerizes many of the tasks photographers
traditionally
 
          performed in chemical darkrooms, such as "printing," adjusting
contrast,
 
          cropping, dodging and burning. It also enables journalists to perform
a v
 
          ariety of photo reproduction tasks that they had not performed before,
such
 as scanning, color correction and color separation. Many "back shop" tasks
 of composition, makeup and photo reproduction have become the
          responsibility of newsroom personnel, and the result is a sharp
reduction,
 
          if not elimination, of the back shop at many papers.[15]
        In the U.S. newspaper industry, information technology has been viewed
 
         anecdotally and largely uncritically for several decades. According to
 
        Anthony Smith, "The United States enjoys an inbuilt national
predilection
 
          for new technology, partly fostered by newspapers and journalism."[16]
The bias
 in newspaper publishing, as in American society on the whole,[17] is to cheer
 
          on computers as the front-line troops in the march of progress. In
1964,
 
          for example, Robert Kenagy of IBM Corp. told the Associated Press
Managing
 
          Editors Association that "the computer will remove a great deal of the
 
        drudgery that exists in the newsroom today and free all people in the
 
       editorial department to be far more creative." In his 1972 textbook Ink
on
 
          Paper, printing and graphics expert Edmund Arnold said, "Used
properly,
 
         computers can free the editor's mind from details and be a valuable
tool
 
          toward the more creative aspects of editing."[18]
        Computers have streamlined pre-press operations, enabling newspapers to
 
          reap substantial savings in labor costs and overall page-production
time,
 
          and they have enriched many newsroom jobs. But along with the praise,
 
       journalists have complained about computers for years, particularly in
 
        certain job categories, and there seems to be growing awareness among
 
       managers that decisions to computerize news production operations have
had
 
          unintended consequences for journalists. Newspaper consultant David
Cole
 
          notes, for example, that "bright and dim spots come with all
pagination
 
         systems."[19] At a newspaper industry conference in late 1994, Peter
Bhatia,
 
          managing editor of the Portland Oregonian, explained one of the dim
spots:
 
        "Most of the people who sit at pagination terminals would not have
 
               chosen to be newsroom compositors. They came into this business
to be
 
               word people, not computer jockeys. So there is resentment by some
and
 
               a lot more resignation to the task than enthusiasm."[20]
 
 
Paul McFarlane, systems editor of the Carroll County (Maryland) Times,
 
        which began paginating in 1993, says the biggest drawback to pagination
is
 
          that "copyeditors become compositors." He noted that Times copyeditors
call
 themselves "pagination monkeys."[21] Anecdotal comments often indicate
 
     fundamental concerns. What is the source of the ambivalence many
 
  journalists have voiced about technological change? How does it relate to
 
          the transformation of journalistic work? Answering this question
requires
 
          focusing at the level of specific tasks.
 
Different jobs, different impacts
        Though all newsroom jobs have professional content, there are substantial
 
          differences, and the benefits and burdens of computerization fall
 
   differently on different job categories. The following is an inventory of
 
          widely used computer systems in newsrooms and the principal tasks
performed
 with these systems. Tasks are categorized as "journalistic," if the
 
      computer-based task has an analogue in traditional news work; "production"
 
          if the analogous task had been done by production departments before
 
      computerization, and "new" if there is no clear pre-computer analogue.
 
 
 
Newsroom computer systems and tasks
 
                                                          Traditional       Production        New
Text editing systems
        Writing stories                                         X
        Editing stories                                         X
        Writing headlines                                       X
        Coding stories for output                                                       X
 
Pagination
        Designing pages on screen                               X
        Assembling page elements for output                                     X
        Adjusting and aligning page elements                                    X
        Outputting pages                                                        X
 
Digital darkrooms
        Scanning images                                                 X
        Enhancing images: dodging, burning, etc.                        X
        Making color adjustments/corrections                                    X
        Making color separations                                                X
        Digital photo archiving                                 *               *
 
Graphics systems
        Scanning art                                                            X
        Enhancing scanned art--adding, eliminating detail               X
        Adding text to graphics                                 X
        Editing online graphics                                                                 X
 
Online libraries and databases
        Choosing databases, designing strategies                        X
        Performing searches                                     X
        Gathering information                                           X
 
Computer assisted reporting
        Data input/building databases                                                           X
        Data transfer and reformatting                                                          X
        Database sorting to find relationships                                                  X
        Using information in stories                            X
 
Internet services
        Exploring internet domains                                                              X
        Information and data gathering                          X
        Finding sources by E-Mail                                                               X
        Interviewing by E-Mail                                  X
 
Online editions
        Repackaging stories as online content                   *               *
        Updating stories                                                X
        Hypertext and other coding, screen design                       *               *
        Summarization, indexing                                 *                               *
        Linking pages                                                                           X
        Interacting with readers (E-Mail, chat                                                  X
 
* Task has characteristics of more than one category
 
        The main difference suggested by the table is between systems used for
 
         news gathering and writing, such as text-editing systems and online
 
     libraries, vs. systems used for news presentation and processing, such as
 
          pagination and digital darkrooms. News-gathering/writing systems are
 
      primarily journalistic in character. They enable journalists to do the
 
        tasks they had done, often better or faster. News presentation and
 
    production systems may enable editors to do some journalistic tasks better
 
          or faster, but they also entail doing additional work  -- work that
had
 
         been done in production departments. Some systems share characteristics
of
 
          both, such as graphic design systems, and some information
technologies,
 
          such as online news systems, entail tasks that have no clear
pre-computer
 
          analogue. In terms of jobs, the distinction is roughly between
reporting
 
          and editing, though the categories are not exclusive.
        The broad impact of newsroom computerization has been to redefine all of
 
          the tasks indicated in the table as journalism. For example,
journalists
 
          now do electronic makeup, therefore electronic makeup must be
journalism.
 
          Editors seeking copydesk jobs can expect to be asked to do electronic
 
       makeup, and journalism schools are expected to teach it.[22] Making color
 
       separations is becoming a journalist's task, therefore, it too must be
 
        journalism. But redefinition does not change the nature of those tasks.
Is
 
          there a level at which such tasks conflict with more fundamental ideas
of
 
          what constitutes journalistic work? If so, is this a likely source of
 
       ambivalence? In an era of technological intensification and convergence,
 
          many tasks will be "new" ones. What impact will these tasks have on
 
     journalistic work?
 
Communications research
        Academic researchers have looked at the impact of computers on news
 
      professionals in general terms. Weaver and Wilhoit reported from their
 
        1982-83 survey of American journalists that "perceived effects of new
 
       technologies are not clearly positive or clearly negative for a
substantial
 proportion of journalists ... for most journalists the perceived benefits
 
          of new technology greatly outweigh the perceived liabilities." They
note,
 
          however, that editors, particularly copyeditors, were the most
negative
 
         about the impact of technology.[23] Burgoon, Burgoon and Atkin came to
a
 
      similar conclusion[24]. Lindley reported that copyeditors whose careers
spanned
 hot type and VDT systems felt that complexity of coding and production
 
         concerns had increased but so had their control over the product.[25]
Those
 
         studies, and a variety of others that focused on such issues as the
effect
 
          of VDTs on error rates[26] and perceived autonomy[27] preceded
widespread
 
   implementation of news presentation and production technologies such as
 
         pagination and digital imaging.
        Studies done in the last several years suggest greater impact on specific
 
          job categories and increasing ambivalence. Russial reported that
pagination
 has given editors increased flexibility and control over the page makeup
 
          process but that it entails a production burden that can take time
away
 
         from editing[28] and can lead to greater task specialization.[29]
Underwood et. al.
 identify a "displacement effect" of pagination, which refers to the shift
 
          of production tasks into newsrooms and the consequent reduction in
 
    attention editors can pay to traditional editing.[30] Researchers have begun
to
 examine issues at the level of work and organization in newspapers[31] but one
 must look outside the journalism and communications literature for broader
 theoretical perspectives on technological change and work.
 
Perspectives from other fields
        Debate about computerization, work and organization has been robust in
 
         several fields -- sociology, industrial relations and management. These
 
         wide-ranging perspectives can be schematized several ways[32]. One
approach is
 
          to look at the impact of computerization at the "human interface" --
the
 
          point where tasks, skills and technology intersect.
        Some scholars, such as Braverman and Shaiken, argue that computerization
 
          degrades jobs through deskilling.[33] Some, such as Bell and Piore and
Sabel,
 
          argue that computerization tends to enrich jobs because it increases
the
 
          skill content ("upskilling");[34]  Some, such as McLoughlin and Clark
and
 
       Zuboff, are more equivocal, and perhaps their views are more suited to
the
 
          complexity of factors that influence work and technology. They say
that
 
         computerization can either enrich or degrade jobs depending on how jobs
are
 designed and how workers and managers negotiate the use of computers.[35]
 
        Newspaper computerization suggests yet another possibility:
Computerization
 can enrich some jobs through upskilling, degrade others through
 
  deskilling, and somewhat paradoxically, upskill and degrade still other
 
         jobs at the same time and by the same mechanisms.[36]
 
Labor process theory and deskilling
        A good starting point to examine the issue of new technology and skills is
 Braverman, a neo-Marxist whose Labor and Monopoly Capital[37] set off a
 
      lengthy debate about skills and deskilling. Braverman, and later advocates
 
          of the labor process approach, argued that there is a deepening divide
 
        between mental and manual labor and that the routinization and
          simplification of many highly skilled blue-collar jobs was not a
byproduct
 
          of new technology but the reason for its introduction. According to
 
     Braverman, capitalist owners and managers strive to deskill workers by
 
        separating the conception of work from its execution in order to control
 
          the workforce. A well-studied example is the impact of numerical
control,
 
          which transferred the skill of machinists into computer programs.[38]
Before
 
          numerical control processes were implemented, machinists planned and
 
      executed metalworking jobs. With numerical control, the conceptual
 
    function--the planning of the machine setup -- was shifted to engineers or
 
          computer technicians. Machinists became machine tenders--watching
machines
 
          execute the jobs planned by others.
        Braverman argues that deskilling is also the logic of technological change
 in white-collar work, and others have examined white-collar occupations,
 
          such as computer programming,[39] social work and engineering,[40] in
his terms.
        Braverman has been sharply criticized for oversimplifying the concept of
 
          skills and for overstating the role of deskilling as a conscious
managerial
 strategy.[41] Labor process theory does, however, capture the fundamental
 
        impact of information technology on certain occupations. In printing,
for
 
          example, linotype operators and compositors were deskilled; they lost
their
 craft-based skills, and their control of the work, as computer typesetting
 replaced hot metal composition.[42]
        Labor process theory, which is grounded in the separation of conception
 
          and execution of tasks, offers little help in understanding the impact
of
 
          computerization on journalists. From the newsroom perspective, the
 
    computerization of production tasks was a strategic reintegration of
 
      conception and execution. It represented a return to the era of the
 
     "printer-journalist,"[43] and it was done to reduce costs and increase
control.
 News production systems such as pagination and digital darkrooms represent
 further steps in which conception and production (execution) have been
 
         reunited.
 
Flexible specialization and upskilling
        Flexible specialization entails a more optimistic view of technology than
 
          Braverman's and a much rosier view of the relationship between new
 
    technology and skills. This perspective, associated with Michael Piore's
 
          and Charles Sabel's 1984 book, The Second Industrial Divide, holds
that
 
         rapidly changing product market conditions require a flexible core
labor
 
          market--one that can quickly adapt to meet whatever challenges arise.
It is
 a strategy of permanent innovation based on flexible multi-use equipment
 
          and multi-skilled workers, and it represents, in effect, a revival of
the
 
          craft form of production.[44] According to Piore and Sabel, the
computer is "an
 instrument that responds to and extends the productive capacities of the
 
          user.[45] Rather than degradation of work through deskilling -- the
outcome
 
         predicted by the labor process school -- flexible specialization is
seen as
 enriching work by increasing worker skills, or "upskilling."
        Such a return to a craftlike organization of work has been hailed by some
 
          as the path to competitiveness. Critics, however, argue that flexible
 
       specialization fails to address the possibility that information
technology
 can be used to substitute technology for human labor" or automate, as
 
        Zuboff uses the term. A second criticism is that flexible specialization
 
          may not result in upskilling, and that upskilling of jobs in the core
labor
 market "may be associated with a deskilling of others" in the periphery.[46]
        Like Braverman, Piore and Sabel are talking primarily of production
 
      contexts. In theory, flexible specialization may be a useful way to
 
     approach information technology in newsroom contexts. Given the plethora of
 different computer systems in newsrooms, the development of multi-skilled
 
          workers would seem to offer greater flexibility in news gathering as
well
 
          as news presentation and processing.
        In many newsrooms, elements of the core labor market -- copyeditors and
 
          page designers -- were retrained to handle pagination systems, and
 
    photographers were retrained to handle digital image processing. In some
 
          cases, the "core" labor market of journalists has been fragmented into
 
        professional editors and skilled operatives, who may be called "design
 
        assistants,"  "paginators," or even "Chief Quarkers."[47] The trend,
however,
 
          has been toward inflexibility, not flexibility. One study of 12
newspapers
 
          found an increasing task specialization in paginating newsrooms, an
outcome
 related to the cost of systems and the need to develop special expertise
 
          to use the systems efficiently.[48]
        In effect, many professionals have become pagination production
 
  specialists.[49] A similar outcome is possible with digital darkroom systems,
 
          as photographers and copyeditors become digital imaging specialists.
On one
 level, this may appear to be an "upskilling," but on another it is a
 
       degradation of professional work. Even though editors learn new skills,
 
         they have less time for their traditional journalistic tasks because
they
 
          need to perform electronic production tasks.[50] This outcome echoes
the
 
      newsroom's earlier experience with VDTs, when editors were required to
take
 on a greater bundle of tasks -- primarily composition coding and
 
   proofreading -- previously done by compositors.[51] The technology may extend
 
          journalists' production abilities, but it also compromises their
 
  journalistic abilities.
 
Automating and informating
        Another influential view of computers and work is that of Shoshana Zuboff,
 who argues that information technology can be used to either automate or
 
          "informate." Automating is the replacement of skills by machinery
 
   (deskilling). Informating refers to the erosion of the requirement for
 
        workers to execute tasks based on action-centered skills and an increase
in
 the need for them to use mental, or "intellective," skills such as
 
     understanding and judging information.[52] This change is construed as
 
    positive; it represents an upskilling and an enrichment. Computers are the
 
          key -- they make it possible to shift the work process from
action-oriented
 behavior, such as looking at the level of fluid in a wood pulp vat, to
 
         more abstract skills, such as judging the progress of a pulp-making
process
 by reading numbers on a computer screen.
        According to Zuboff, technology must be understood in its social context.[53]
 
          The transformation of work she identifies may result in
"epistemological
 
          distress" among workers used to action-oriented behavior, whether
 
   blue-collar or white-collar. It may also result in attempts by managers or
 
          experts to retain control. The point, Zuboff argues, is that this
shift is
 
          problematic for both workers and managers because it tends to dissolve
the
 
          distinction.
        Zuboff's approach may be a fruitful way to look at the impact of
 
   news-gathering systems. The integration of database and library systems
 
         and, perhaps, internet applications, into the professional context of
 
       newsroom work may reflect what Zuboff calls the informating capabilities
of
 new technology. Computer Assisted Reporting and Research (CARR) is a good
 
          example. CARR hardware and software enable reporters to interact with
data
 
          bases, manipulate data and determine relationships between, say, motor
 
        vehicle driving records and school bus accidents. They provide reporters
a
 
          window on and a tool to manipulate large masses of information, and
they
 
          are a significant source of background information, evidence and story
 
        ideas. These computer-based systems open new horizons to reporters and
in
 
          so doing enhance professional skills.[54]
        Another example of a technology with informating potential is the online
 
          news library. Hansen and Ward report evidence that reporter and
librarian
 
          roles are converging in newspapers,[55] an outcome that Smith
predicted more
 
          than a decade and a half ago when he noted that "a kind of historical
 
       collusion is developing between journalism and librarianship."[56] News
 
     librarians once were considered low-status filers and retrievers of news
 
          clips. They have developed valuable skills in shaping and performing
 
      database searches and now are becoming part of reporting teams.
        A third example is graphic design systems, which have enabled editorial
 
          artists to create and edit informational graphics as easily as others
edit
 
          text. Before computerization, graphic artists had relatively low
status in
 
          the newsroom. According to Roger Fidler, who founded the Knight-Ridder
 
        Graphics network, the new generation of graphic artists "tend to be
 
     actively involved with reporters and editors and take great pride in their
 
          ability to inform readers through graphics."[57]
        The integration of pre-press production systems, such as pagination and
 
          perhaps digital darkrooms, into newsrooms represents a different
impact.
 
          Such computer systems may have informating elements. Pagination may,
for
 
          example, give a copyeditor or page designer a wide range of feedback
about
 
          the pre-press production process as a whole by providing tracking
 
   information about the status of stories, ads and photos destined for a page
 or section. This requires the development of new skills and new strategies
 for interacting with data. But from the point of view of editors, the
 
        impact is neither fundamentally automating nor informating.
        Zuboff says the informating capability of "the smart machine" tends to
 
          eliminate the distinction between white and blue collar work.[58] The
bias that
 runs through her perspective is that integrating the mental and manual
 
         dimensions of work would necessarily be a positive outcome of
technological
 change. The experience in newsrooms suggests that the outcome may be
 
       positive, negative or mixed, depending on whose job has changed and how.
 
          News production systems do, in effect, dissolve the distinction
between
 
         white and blue collar, but they dissolve it by eliminating one category
of
 
          worker.
        News production systems have an automating effect from the perspective of
 
          production departments. But they are not predominantly informating
from the
 perspective of the newsroom. Rather than undermine the boundaries of
 
       managerial authority, which is the outcome Zuboff suggests, they
undermine
 
          the boundaries of professional discretion. Editors are adversely
affected
 
          by the same process that deskills production workers, and this is not
a
 
         positive outcome for either group.
        Zuboff's dual constructs--automating and informating--are useful in
 
      explaining the experience of nonprofessional workers in the face of
 
     information technology. They provide insights into the impact on some
 
       classes of white-collar/managerial workers. And they might offer a
 
    blueprint for change in the nature of such work. But they fail to capture a
 substantial impact of information technology on professional workers in
 
          newspaper newsrooms. Studies of information technology and work have
looked
 more thoroughly at change from the perspective of the manual or craft
 
        worker, not as thoroughly from the perspective of the intellectual
worker.
 
Deprofessionalization
        Some scholars have examined professional occupations and technological
 
         change. In the literature, there are two main approaches to explaining
a
 
          decrease in the professional characteristics of an occupation --
 
  deprofessionalization (the white-collar analogue of deskilling) and
 
     proletarianization. Technology can deprofessionalize if it makes a
 
    profession's specialized knowledge available to nonprofessionals. The
 
       profession might lose its monopoly of specialized knowledge or its
ability
 
          to restrict the application of that knowledge to accredited members.
 
      Several researchers report that computer aided design (CAD) systems have
 
          this effect -- they enable technicians to take on design
responsibilities
 
          that had been closely held by engineers. Others, however, argue that
CAD
 
          systems can upskill design work for engineers as well.[59] A better
example
 
         might be computer programs that make professional knowledge available
to
 
          nonprofessionals, such as expert systems or write-your-own-will
software.
        Proletarianization, a Marxist concept, looks at the loss of
          professionalism in terms of relations of production. The principal
 
    indicator would be the degree of a profession's shift from the category of
 
          self-employed to employed and the concomitant loss of autonomy. One
example
 might be the loss of autonomy and the increase in oversight that accompany
 the integration of physicians and physician groups into health care
 
      systems as employees. Computers are used to calculate professional
 
    "productivity," and compensation can be adjusted accordingly.[60]
        Proletarianization is of little help in understanding technology and news
 
          work -- most newspaper journalists are employees.
Deprofessionalization is
 
          a more appropriate concept. The impact of news production systems does
 
        appear to deprofessionalize editors,[61] but in a rather unusual way.
After a
 
          technology such as pagination is implemented, editors retain their
 
    professional knowledge (their editing skills) as well as their monopoly in
 
          its application. What they lose is much of their discretion in
applying it
 
          in the face of production imperatives.[62]
 
 
Technological enlargement
        The experience of journalists with news production systems suggests a need
 for another way to explain the impact of information technology on work. A
 category of impact is needed that is not captured by the idea of
 
   deskilling, that is neither automating nor informating, that is not
 
     deprofessionalizing through loss of exclusivity. It would explain an
 
      outcome in which professional work becomes more specialized yet less
 
      flexible. Professional work is degraded through the addition of skills,
 
         through reintegration of conception and execution, through the
redefinition
 of production tasks as journalism.
        Job "enlargement," a concept taken from industrial relations and the
 
       sociology of work, is perhaps the closest fit. On the assembly line, the
 
          classic case of enlargement is a speedup -- an assembly line worker is
 
        required to perform four tasks rather than three in a given amount of
time.
 The result often is diminished quality, because workers cannot pay as much
 attention to each task. Perhaps the concept can be stretched a bit.
 
      Traditional job enlargement for an editor might mean having to edit 20
 
        stories instead of 15 in a shift. The shift of production work into the
 
         newsroom adds tasks of a different order. They are not as intellectual
as
 
          traditional editing tasks[63] --  yet they often must take priority if
the
 
        paper is to be published.[64] Editors retain their exclusive control
over the
 
          intellectual tasks that editing encompasses, but they lose discretion
over
 
          the emphasis they can place on those tasks. Another analytical
category is
 
          needed to explain this phenomenon, perhaps "technological enlargement"
of
 
          professional work.
        This is more than an academic exercise. Computers have contributed to the
 
          redefinition of journalism, but this transformation has happened
"behind
 
          the backs" of journalists. It has occurred through thousands of small
 
       decisions about who is supposed to do what with which computer system in
 
          hundreds of newsrooms. And it is likely to continue as the scope of
 
     computerization continues to expand in daily newspaper newsrooms.
 
New tasks
        Newspapers have avidly pursued such information technologies as audiotext,
 online newspapers and the internet in the last few years. Other computer
 
          technologies may find their way into newsrooms as well. A few
newspaper
 
         executives, for example, are suggesting that newsrooms use database
 
     marketing systems to generate story ideas and provide readers with targeted
 reports.[65] Will database marketing, a tool typically used by advertising and
 marketing departments, become journalism? Another innovation, online
 
       interactivity, is already being redefined as journalism, as a glance at
any
 recent trade journal issue will indicate. Little is known about how such
 
          innovations will affect journalists. If, for example, online newspaper
 
        subscribers expect to have speedy interactive access to reporters and
 
       editors, will journalists have to limit the time they spend on reporting
 
          and editing to respond to readers? Will interactivity provide
reporters
 
         with new sources of information and expose them to perspectives they
may
 
          not have considered?
        Regardless how information technology tasks are defined, it is fair to ask
 what they have to do with journalism. Do they enhance journalistic
 
     practice or detract from it? Many of the tasks that journalists might be
 
          asked to perform with new computer systems do not have analogues in
either
 
          the pre-computer newsroom or in production departments. An important
 
      question for journalists and journalism educators is whether these new
 
        tasks will have an informating impact or whether they will result in
 
      technological enlargement, as news production systems have done.
        In order to ask such questions and to understand and to be able to
 
     critically examine the implementation of information technology,
 
  communications scholars need a way to explain what is happening at the
 
        level of skill and task--the human interface. A useful conceptual frame
 
         must take into account the idea that computer technologies can have
vastly
 
          different impacts on different classes of professionals within the
same
 
         white collar organization. Computerization isn't just about computers.
It's
 about what specific computer systems are designed to do and how they are
 
          implemented.
        The wrong question is the general one: "What impact has computerization
 
          had on news professionals?" A better question is richer with
specifics:
 
         "Has a given type of computer system enhanced a journalist's
professional
 
          and creative skills? Or has it limited the journalist's discretion in
 
       applying those skills?" One provisional answer, based on framing the
 
      question this way, is that computers primarily enhance news gathering,
 
        while computers both enhance and degrade news editing. The greater the
 
        degradation, which can be seen in limitations on discretion, the greater
 
          the ambivalence, and, perhaps, the greater the impact on quality of
work
 
          and quality of work life?
 
Suggestions for research
        What are the implications for journalism research?
        One suggestion is to locate technology studies at the level of work --
 
         what it is professionals do all day and how their workday changes after
 
         information technology is implemented. Important considerations are
 
     inventories and analysis of tasks, and more important, an analysis of time
 
          spent on tasks, the nature of those tasks, and changes in professional
 
        discretion in choosing which tasks to concentrate upon. In addition,
 
      technological change should be examined in terms of indicators, such as
 
         time, job satisfaction, burnout, retention, and, ultimately,
journalistic
 
          quality.
        Technology also should be examined at the level of organizational change.
 
          Does information technology improve or hinder efforts to make such
changes?
 A more specific question is whether there is a correlation between the
 
         implementation of a computer system and newsroom task specialization. A
 
         working hypotheses might be that the introduction of news production
 
      systems will correlate positively with newsroom task specialization,
 
      because of the need for specialized expertise, and that the introduction
of
 news-gathering systems will not. A related question is, What are the
 
       relationships between information technology and various approaches to
 
        newsroom "re-engineering," such as topic teams, newsroom circles,
display
 
          desks and design desks? Ryan says, for example, that display desks
need
 
         "wordsmiths, visual specialists and people proficient with computers"
and
 
          that by working together, these specialists would learn one another's
 
       skills. "Before long," he says, "each display editor would be expected to
 
          know how to do every job."[66] If news production technology leads to
greater
 
          task specialization, this outcome may be unlikely.
        Have newsrooms been reorganized to solve production problems or to improve
 journalistic quality? If the technology's informating potential is
 
     exploited in re-engineering, the result should be an increase in employee
 
          satisfaction and better quality. If the mode of introduction is
 
 technological enlargement, the opposite should be evident.
        Communications research, which has examined technological issues at the
 
          levels of audience effects and culture, has invested little time on
studies
 of technology at the level of work. The absence of a conceptual framework,
 or even the rudiments of one, has meant that there is no road map for
 
        research into a major industry trend and its often-unintended
consequence
 
          -- the transformation of journalistic work. Consequently there is
little
 
          basis for offering guidance and criticism to an industry pursuing
greater
 
          and greater computerization.
 
 [1]  David Weaver and G. Cleveland Wilhoit, The American Journalist, 1986
 
 
   (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press). Also Wilhoit and
 Weaver, "U.S.
 
          Journalists at Work, 1971-1992," paper present
ed to the AEJMC Media
 
     Management and Economics Division, Atla
nta, August 1994.
[2]  The percentage of daily newspaper journalists iden
tified as supervisors and
 
     copyeditors has slowly increased
at the expense of journalists identified as reporters.
 
            This
 increase continued even after the number of daily newspaper journalists pe
aked in
 
           1990. Supervisors and copyeditors have substantial
production responsibilities. Cornelius
 
            F. Foote Jr., "Minor
ity, Total Newsroom Employment Shows Slow Growth, 1994 Survey Says,"
 
 
        ASNE Bulletin, April/May 1994, p. 20-22.
[3]  John Russial, "Pagin
ation and the Newsroom: A Question of Time," Newspaper
 
     Resear
ch Journal, 1994, 91-101; Doug Underwood, C. Anthony Giffard and
 
 
    Keith Stamm, "Computers and Editing: The Displacement Effect of Paginat
ion
 
          Systems in the Newsroom," Newspaper Research Journal, Spr
ing 1994, 116-127.
[4]  The relative percentage of copyeditors and supervi
sory editors has
 
        increased slightly in the last several years
 as the total daily newspaper
 
          editorial workforce has decline
d, according to surveys reported in the ASNE
 Bulletin May/June 1993 and A
pril 1994. It is unclear how much of the
 
       relative increase in
 editors represents positions created to offset the
 
         impact of
 pagination, but it is unlikely that the increase is enough to
 
 
  offset a 20 percent reduction in editing staff positions. The effective
 
 
 
         loss of editing staff positions due to pagination's impact cou
ld be greater
 than the number of editing jobs lost through cutbacks durin
g the last
 
        recession.
[5]  In a preliminary study of newsroo
ms and digital darkrooms, I observed photographers
 
            and phot
o editors at 10 newspapers performing many tasks that had been done by prod
uction
 
            workers before the introduction of AP Leaf systems a
nd Adobe Photoshop into newsrooms.
[6]  John Russial, "Pagination and the
Newsroom: A Question of Time."
[7]  John M. Shipman Jr., "Computerization
and Job Satisfaction in the Newsroom: Four
 
          Factors to Consi
der," Newspaper Research Journal, Fall 1986, 69-80.
[8]  Betsy B. Cook, St
eve R. Banks and Ralph J. Turner report that copyeditors have
 
 
   significantly higher levels of emotional exhaustion than reporters and t
hat copyeditors
 
            who have multiple role assignments -- copye
diting, layout and design -- have the lowest
 
            levels of pers
onal accomplishment, making that type of position a high-risk job for
 
 
        burnout. The authors did not correlate the use of computer techn
ology with multiple role
 
            assignments, but it is likely that
 many copyeditors in that category use news production
 
            syst
ems such as pagination. "The Effects of Work Environment on Burnout in the
Newsroom,"
 
          Newspaper Research Journal, 14, 3&4, Summer and Fa
ll 1993, p. 123-134.
[9]  Underwood, Giffard and Stamm, "Computers and Edi
ting."
[10]  Jean Ward and Kathleen A. Hansen, "Journalist and Librarian R
oles, Information
 
         Technologies and Newsmaking," Journalism
Quarterly 68 (Fall 1991) 491-498;
 
       Hansen et al., "Local Break
ing News: Sources, Technology and News Routines,
 Journalism Quarterly 71
(Autumn 1994) 561-572.
[11]  Elliot Jaspin, "The New Investigative Journal
ism: Exploring Public Records by
 
        Computer," in John V. Pavl
ik and Everette E. Dennis eds., Demystifying Media
 
    Technology
, (London: Mayfield) 1993, 142-49.
[12]  John Russial, "Pagination and the
 Newsroom: Great Expectations," dissertation,
 
         Temple Univer
sity, 1989.
[13]  Nancy M. Carter, "Computerization as a Predominate Techn
ology: Its Influence on the
 
            Structure of Newspaper Organiza
tions," Academy of Management Journal, June 1984,
 
          p. 251-268.
 
[14]  Russial, "Pagination and the Newsroom: A Question of Time"; Underw
ood, Giffard and
 
            Stamm, "The Displacement Effect."
[15]  A
rne L. Kalleberg et. al, "The Eclipse of Craft: The Changing face of Labor
in the
 
            Newspaper Industry," in Daniel B. Cornfield, Workers
, Managers and Technological
 
          Change, 1987, (New York: Plenum)
. Recent trade journal reports make the
 
         same point. See, for
example, David M. Cole, "Pagination, Page by Page,"
 
          presstime
, February 1995, p. 29; Anna America, "The Power of Pagination,"
 
 
    presstime, April 1994, p. 44-47; Julius Duscha, "The Alameda Model,"
 
 
      presstime, April 1994, p. 48-50.
[16]  Anthony Smith, Goodbye
Gutenberg: The Newspaper Revolution of the 1980s,
 
          (New York:
Oxford), 1980, p. 132.
[17]  James W. Carey and John J. Quirk, "The Mythos
 of the Electronic Revolution," in
 
          Carey, Communication as
Culture: Essays on Media and Society, (Boston: Unwin
 
          Hyman) 1
989.
[18]  "Automation," The APME Red Book 1964, The Associated Press, 22,
 p. 50; Edmund
 
        Arnold, 1972, Ink on Paper, (New York: Harpe
r & Row), p. 74.
[19]  Cole, "Pagination, Page by Page."
[20]  M.L. Stein
, "Joys and Sorrows of Pagination," Editor & Publisher, Dec. 24,
 
 
    1994, p. 24.
[21]  Cole, "Pagination, Page by Page."
[22]  Robert McC
lain, the head of a training firm that specializes in Macintosh
 
 
 
    applications for newspapers, says, "In most cases, today's graduates a
re far from ready to
 step into a paginated or partially paginated newspap
er." McClain says writing, editing
 
            and design skills should
 be taught first, but he argues that computer page design
 
      t
echnology "has become a tool of the trade and should be better taught by ou
r colleges and
 universities." Robert McClain, "Journalism Education Shoul
d Include More Computer Trai
 
           ning," Newspapers & Technology,
 January 1994, p. 21.  Paul Lester of California State
 
          Univ
ersity, Fullerton, argues that journalism schools have to link technologica
l concerns
 
            with a philosophy of education. Paul Lester, "Te
chnical Convergence Equals Professional
 
            and Academic Conver
gence," Viewpoints, The Official Newsletter of the Visual
 
 C
ommunications Division of AEJMC, Fall 1993, p. 8.
See also John Russial, "
Beyond the Basics: Mixed Messages About Pagination and Other
 
 
  Skills," Newspaper Research Journal, forthcoming.
[23]  Weaver and Wilho
it, The American Journalist, p. 154-157.
[24]  Judee K. Burgoon, Michael B
urgoon and Charles K. Atkin, "The World of the Working
 
            Jour
nalist," (New York: Newspaper Advertising Bureau) 1982.
[25]  William R.
Lindley, "From Hot Type to Video Screens: Editors Evaluate New
 
 
    Technology," Journalism Quarterly 65(2) Summer 1988, p. 485-89.
[26]
See, for example, Larry D. Kurtz, "The Electronic Editor," Journal of
 
 
  Communication, 30, (Summer 1980, 54-57); Linda J. Shipley and Jame
s K.
 
        Gentry, "How Electronic Editing Equipment Affects Editin
g Performance,
 
        Journalism Quarterly, (Autumn 1981 371-74,378)
; Starr D. Randall, "Effect
 
          of Electronic Editing on Error Ra
te of Newspapers," Journalism Quarterly,
 
          (Spring 1979 161-165
); Gerald F. Stone, 1987, Examining Newspapers,
 
     (Newbury Park
: Sage), p. 58-59.
[27]  Shipman, in a review of literature on newsroom co
mputerization and job satisfaction,
 points out that "computers can be use
d for greater control of workers and a lessening of
 
            autonom
y, or they can help achieve greater decentralization and freedom in the wor
kplace."
 Shipman, "Computerization and Job Satisfaction in the Newsroom."
 
[28]  Russial, "Pagination and the Newsroom: A Question of Time"
[29]  J
ohn Russial, "Pagination and Newsroom Organization," paper presented to the
 AEJMC
 
            Communications Technology and Policy and Newspaper D
ivisions, Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 13, 1995.
 Carter noted an increase in specia
lization in newsrooms after VDTs were introduced.
 
         Carter, "
Computerization as a Predominate Technology."
[30]  Underwood, Giffard & S
tamm, "Computers and Editing."
[31]  Ward and Hansen, "Journalist and Libr
arian Roles"; Russial, "Pagination and Newsroom
 Organization;" Underwood,
 Giffard and Stamm, "Computers and Editing"; Eric
 
          Wolferman,
"Pagination: Avoiding Frustration in the Newsroom," 87-95 in
 
 
Pavlik and Dennis, Demystifying Media Technology; Roger F. Fidler,
 
 
    "Computer Graphics and the News," 96-98, in Pavlik and Dennis.
[32]
 Two approaches are detailed in Beverly H. Burris, Technocracy at Work,
 
 
    (Albany: State University of New York), 1993, and Ian McLoughlin
 and Jon
 
          Clark, Technological Change at Work, 2nd edition, (B
uckingham: Open
 
     University), 1994.
[33]  See Harry Braverman
, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work
 
          in the
Twentieth Century, (New York: Monthly Review Press) 1974; Harley
 
 
    Shaiken, Work Transformed: Automation and Labor in the Computer Age, (N
ew
 
          York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston), 1984.
[34]  Sociologist
Daniel Bell, computer scientist Herbert Simon and other information
 
 
         society, theorists argue that advanced technology benefits workers
 by eliminating
 
      unskilled, tedious jobs and providing in th
eir place jobs that offer greater variation and
 greater opportunity for m
eaningful work. See Daniel Bell, 1973, The Coming of
 
     Post-Ind
ustrial Society, (New York: Basic); Herbert A. Simon, 1979, "What
 
 
     Computers Mean for Man and Society" in John Burke and Marshall Eakin,
 
 
       Technology and Change, (San Francisco: Boyd & Fraser), 68-76.
 Flexible
 
        specialization theorists adopt a similar view of te
chnology and skill. See
 
          Michael Piore and Charles Sabel, The
Second Industrial Divide, (New York:
 
          Basic) 1984.
[35]  McLo
ughlin and Clark, Technological Change at Work; Shoshana Zuboff, In
 
 
       the Age of the Smart Machine, (New York: Basic) 1988. A related appr
oach,
 
          sociotechnical systems, is summarized in Jon Harrington
, Organizational
 
         Structure and Information Technology, (New Y
ork: Prentice-Hall), 1991, p.
 
          86-88.
[36]  Russial, "Paginat
ion and the Newsroom: Great Expectations."
[37]  Braverman, Labor and Mono
poly Capital.
[38]  See, for example, Shaiken, Work Transformed: Automatio
n and Labor in the
 
          Computer Age.
[39]  Philip Kraft, "The In
dustrialization of Computer Programming," in Andrew Zimbalist,
 
 
  Case Studies on the Labor Process, (New York: Monthly Review) 1979.
[40]
  See, for example, Charles Derber, ed., Professionals as Workers, 1982,
 
 
      (Boston: G.K. Hall).
[41]  Skills may, for example, have as mu
ch to do with politics and control of work as
 
           they do with
craftlike competencies. See, for example, Stephen Wood, ed., The
 
 
  Degradation of Work? Skill, Deskilling and the Labor Process (London:
 
 
 
       Hutchinson) 1982; Wood, ed., The Transformation of Work, 1989,
 (London:
 
         Unwin Hyman); and Peter J. Senker, "Automation and
Work in Britain,"
 
      89-110, in Paul S. Adler, ed., Technology a
nd the Future of Work, (Oxford
 
          University: Oxford) 1992.
[42
]  Arne L. Kalleberg et al., "The Eclipse of Craft: The Changing Face of La
bor in the
 
            Newspaper Industry," 47-71 in Daniel B. Cornfiel
d, ed., Workers, Managers and
 
     Technological Change, New York:
 Plenum) 1987; Cynthia Cockburn, Brothers:
 
          Male Dominance and
 Technological Change, (London: Pluto) 1983.
[43]  Marion Dearman and John
 Howells, "Computer Technology and the Return of the
 
      Printe
r-Journalist," Journalism History, Winter 1975, 133-136.
[44]  McLoughlin
and Clark, p. 48.
[45]  Cited in Burris, Technocracy at Work.
[46]  Summa
rized in McLoughlin and Clark, p. 52-53 and 69.
[47]  Stein, "The Joys and
 Sorrows of Pagination," p. 24. The reference is to an
 
         Englis
h major hired by a Washington state newspaper on the basis of his
 
 
     ability to handle Quark Xpress, the most widely used desktop publishin
g
 
         software in newspapers.
[48]  Russial, "Pagination and New
sroom Organization."
[49]  Leland Ryan, "Goodbye Copy Desk, Hello, Display
 Desk," ASNE Bulletin, April
 
        1991; Jane Harrigan, "Why Do So
Many Editors Have Such Bad Attitudes?"
 
        Quill, March 1993; Rus
sial, "Pagination and Newsroom Organization."
[50]  Russial, "Pagination a
nd the Newsroom: A Question of Time;" Underwood, Giffard and
 
 
  Stamm, "Computers and Editing."
[51]  William S. Solomon, "Technological
 Change in the Workplace: The Impact of Video
 
          Display termi
nals on Newspaper Copy Desk Work, dissertation, University of California,
 
 
 
           Berkeley, 1985. Nancy Carter and John B. Cullen noted an inc
rease in task specialization
 
            in newsrooms with increasing c
omputerization, The Computerization of Newspaper
 
        Organization
s, (Lanham: University Press of America) 1983.
[52]  Zuboff, cited in Burr
is, p. 149.
[53]  Zuboff's perspective is consistent with the sociotechnic
al systems approach. See
 
           Burris, Technocracy at Work.
[54]
  Inputting data into a database can be a time-consuming task, but once it
is done,
 
            the data can be used and reused.
[55]  Ward and H
ansen, "Journalist and Librarian Roles."
[56]  Smith, Goodbye Gutenberg, p
. 115.
[57]  Fidler, "Computer Graphics and the News," p. 96.
[58]  Zubof
f, In the Age of the Smart Machine, p. 393.
[59]  Senker, "Automation and
Work in Britain."
[60]  Eliot Freidson, Professionalism Reborn, (Chicago:
University of Chicago)
 
          1994, p. 131. Zuboff cites an example
of information technology providing
 
          corporate headquarters wi
th up-to-date data on production at various
 
      plants, thereby g
iving corporate executives a way to track the performance
 
          of
plant managers. Zuboff, In the Age of the Smart Machine.
[61]  Whether new
spaper reporters and editors are professionals is a complex question.
 
 
           Under federal labor laws, an employee is a professional if his o
r her work requires
 
        advanced knowledge or specialized instr
uction in a field, or if it requires creativity, or
 
            iginalit
y and the exercise of discretion, and if it is predominately intellectual a
nd
 
          varied in character. The federal government considers jo
urnalism as a quasi-profession:
 
            "Obviously the majority of
reporters do work which depends primarily on intelligence,
 
 
diligence and accuracy. It is the minority whose work depends primarily on
invention,
 
          imagination and talent." Labor Relations Reporte
r, Wage and Hour Manual, Bureau of
 
       National Affairs Inc. Bi
nder 6-A, p. 660.
        Johnstone et al., in their study of American journalist
s, conclude that journalism is a
 
            profession in most of the
senses in which the term is commonly used: "[I]t is clearly a
 
 
   full-time occupation; there are established training facilities for its
practitioners;
 
           several professional associations for workin
g news people are in existence (though
 
       patronage of them is
 rather low); there is legal sanction, of a kind, for its work
 
 
    territory; and formal codes of ethics have been developed." John W.C. J
ohnstone et. al,
 
            1976, The News People, (Urbana: University
 of Illinois), p. 102.
[62]  Russial, "Pagination and the Newsroom: A Ques
tion of Time."
[63]  News production systems, it can be argued, have shift
ed professional work toward the
 manual dimension. There is a great deal o
f physical manipulation of a mouse and keyboard
 
            involved in
 pagination and digital darkroom work. This is certainly the view from the
 
 
          perspective of paginators who develop repetitive stress inj
uries.
[64]  Russial, "Pagination and the Newsroom: A Question of Time."
 
[65]  Jim Rosenberg, "Targeting Marketing with Insight: Applying Artificial
 Intelligence
 
            to Database Marketing," Editor & Publisher, J
une 19, 1993, 34, 59; Larry
 
      Sackett, "Marketing Departments A
re Great News Sources," Editorially
 
      Speaking, Gannett Co. new
sletter, p.7.
[66]  Ryan, "Goodvye Copy Desk, Hello Display Desk," p. 10.

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