Learning to be A journalist: A preliminary study of cyborgs, college newsworkers
and RSI work culture
By Catherine L. Marston
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Iowa
1027 1/2 Third Ave.
Iowa City, IA 52240
e-mail: [log in to unmask]
Paper submitted to the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass
Communication annual conference, Baltimore, MD. August 1998.
The author wishes to thank Dawn Atkins, Gene Costain, Fabienne Darling-Wolf, and
Laura Donaldson for their feedback on and suggestions on earlier versions of
learning to be a journalist/
Learning to be A journalist: A preliminary study of cyborgs, college newsworkers
and RSI work culture
In August 1993, while I was a copy editor at the Austin American-Statesman,
we had a seminar on repetitive strain injuries (RSI) given by Chris Foran, an
occupational therapist. According to a 1991 Columbia Journalism Review article,
RSI has ranked as the country's leading occupational illness since 1987 (Hembree
& Sandoval, p. 41) this seminar was one effort by the Statesman management to
deal with the epidemic of RSI in our newsroom. At one point, Michelle Rice, the
news editor and my boss, asked Foran, "So, how much pain is normal when you're
working?" The question may seem silly now out of context, but so many people in
the room had been thinking the same thing. Foran replied, "Pain is not normal!"
and went on to discuss pain as an indicator of damage a sign that should be
taken seriously and acted on immediately.
Occupational injuries such as RSI are a blunt reminder of the physical
consequences of labor and why many journalists, as media scholar Hanno Hardt
(1995) puts it, are "casualties of industrialization and technological change"
(p. 4).This idea that pain might be normal for journalists raises the issue of
what constitutes "normal" journalistic work practices and values. A feminist
disability perspective on journalists and occupational health offers an
explanation for why Rice asked that question and why U.S. workers, such as
journalists, are alienated from their bodies and not conscious of their
computer-related work as actual labor.
The rise of RSI in the past decade (and my own experience of contracting
RSI from newspaper work) raises the question of what journalists' working
conditions have been throughout history, how journalists have viewed these
conditions, and how they have acted or not acted to protect themselves from
harm. It is crucial, according to Hardt, to locate journalists "in their
relationship to others in the workplace and in society, and ... provide them
with a strong sense of their own history and their own place in the making of
American culture. Such efforts may ultimately serve the interests of labor and
the needs of the working class to rediscover its own history and understand its
current situation" (p. 2).
This paper is an initial effort to explore and integrate feminist and
cultural theories of a preliminary ethnographic study I conducted in October
and November 1996 of the college newsworkers at the Daily Iowan, the campus
paper at the University of Iowa. By observing at the DI, I hoped to gain
insights into how these college newsworkers were beginning to be socialized into
the American journalistic work culture in terms of viewing (or not viewing!)
their bodies in relation to their work. I begin by exploring writings by
disability feminists, Emily Martin (a feminist medical anthropologist), and
feminist cybertheorist notions of controlling the body with consideration of
the cyborg as a theoretical concept related to my work. I will situate this
discussion and my ethnographic project within American journalistic work culture
as part of the contemporary American work culture. I loosely define "work
culture" as a negotiated, context-sensitive set of practices and beliefs
surrounding work. I refer to American journalistic work culture and contemporary
American work culture as "RSI work culture" because I believe cultural factors
are clearly implicated as causes of RSI and other occupational injuries.
Lastly, I will attempt to situate the college newsworkers at the Daily Iowan
within this feminist perspective on American journalistic work culture.
Considering that RSI is a disability caused by overwork, I believe there is
a need to understand the cultural factors that have caused its onset and
prominence at this point in our cultural work history. By examining the college
newsroom in particular, I hope to begin to explain why journalists keep signing
up for an occupation that could permanently disable them through RSI. I also
hope this work will contribute to including a much needed feminist disability
perspective in media research on newsworkers and occupational health (i.e.,
Marston, 1997), as well as adding to studies of student journalists.
learning to be a journalist/
Feminist theory, embodiment, and technology
There are no "minds" floating around, disconnected from their "bodies" an
interconnectedness that feminism continually reminds us of. Nancy Hartsock
(1983) in her arguments for a feminist materialism argues for this the notion of
grounding our theory in material reality. A concept of Hartsock's that I find
particularly relevant in regard to disability, such as RSI, is her reminder of
"the bodily aspect of existence. ... There is some biological, bodily component
to human existence" (p. 289). She reminds us that, as "embodied humans, we are
of course inextricably both natural and social" (p. 283-284). While Hartsock is
speaking specifically about the Marxian category of labor, her emphasis on the
interaction between the social and the "natural" is also important for feminist
scholars to remember when dealing with disability perspectives.
Feminist disability theorist Susan Wendell (1996) delineates how disability
is socially constructed in our society. She argues that there are literal
physical social conditions that affect peoples bodies, damaging them: such as,
wars, disease, crime (including rape), high-risk working conditions, and
contamination of the environment. The increased pace of life is also a creator
of disability in our society, according to Wendell. This pace is taken for
granted by nondisabled people, but actually causes disabilities (such as RSI and
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder).
Thomson further argues that the "normate," our mythic ideal of what is
normal, must create cultural Others to define itself against. Much of the recent
scholarly interest in "the body" has endeavored to reveal this historically and
contextually sensitive conception of the normal being defined against what is
seen as deviant in race, gender, able-bodiedness, sexual orientation, etc. (for
example, Terry & Urla, 1995; Jacobus, Keller, & Shuttleworth, 1990). Thomson
writes that there are many parallels between the social meanings attributed to
female bodies and disabled bodies in relation to this norm of interest to
feminist scholars. Thomson argues for a feminist theory that includes multiple
axes of identity and uses what queer theorist Eve Sedgwick calls a
"universalizing" view of difference that enables many cross-cutting groups to
coalesce around disability concerns (as opposed to a "minoritizing" view which
would make disability into the concern of only a narrow group).
Wendell argues that the oppression of people with disabilities comes from
the lack of room in our cultural space for real, feeling bodies. Most
able-bodied people "do not want to know about suffering caused by the body"
(1989, p. 111), because they fear it. So, it is a way that everyone can further
distance themselves from the reality of the bodies they live in. Disability,
according to Thomson, subverts the liberal American ideal that everyone can
become a master of destiny and self (p. 41). "The disabled body stands for the
self gone out of control, individualism run rampant" (Thomson, p. 43).
This idealizing of and alienation from the body comes from a desire to
control the body, something that feminist theorists have analyzed in respect to
our patriarchal culture. "Idealizing the body and wanting to control it go
hand-in hand; it is impossible to say whether one causes the other" (Wendell,
1989, p. 113). Feminist medical anthropologist Emily Martin (1994) explores the
concept of immunity in American culture from polio in the 1950s to HIV in the
1990s via examining media content and scientific studies and conducting
ethnographic research. She finds that we are increasingly pressured to alienate
ourselves from our bodies by thinking of them as "flexible" in health and work
Western medicine also plays into this myth that the body can be controlled
by directing research and medical care "toward [more] life-threatening
conditions than toward chronic illnesses and disabilities. Even pain was
relatively neglected as a medical problem until the second half of this century"
(Wendell, 1989, p. 114). The person with a disability, who cannot be simply
"cured" within this system, is seen as abnormal and even at fault for their
disability. Ignoring the perspectives of people with disabilities also fosters
unrealistic notions of our bodies' limits and abilities. In this case, when we
make people with disabilities the "other," we are "othering" our own bodies, as
well. RSI, of course, is disability that cannot merely be "cured"
after-the-fact; it has been caused by unrealistic ideas about what is an
appropriate amount of work. However, RSI is also a disability caused from an
interaction with technology and technology has often been hailed as liberatory
and reviled as evil.
Feminist cybertheorist Anne Balsamo (1996) warns against analyses of
technology that are merely determinist, and argues that technology is not
necessarily a tool of power elites. The technologies themselves, she argues,
"have limited agency" (p. 123). What is crucial in analyses of technology,
according to Balsamo, is to examine though ways technologies and their uses are
determined by broader cultural and social forces.
Exploring feminist cybertheory
It is not a coincidence that VR emerges in the 1980s, during
a time when the body is understood to be increasingly vulnerable
(literally, as well as discursively) to infection as well as to
gender, race, ethnicity, and ability critiques. ... The critical p
oint here is that these new technological applications... do not
create disembodied citizens. Rather, they are themselves
consequences of social changes already in place (Balsamo, p. 127).
Sheryl Hamilton (1996) writes that cybertheorists attempt to examine the
interaction between human bodies and machines. She believes that feminist
cybertheorists have not strayed too far from Donna Haraway's original feminist
formulation of the cyborg from about 10 years ago. Haraway (1989) defines a
cyborg as "a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature
of social reality as well as a creature of fiction" (p. 174). She believes we
are all cyborgs, under this definition, at this period in history, because U.S.
scientific culture has breached all dualistic boundaries specifically those
boundaries between human and animal; organism and machine; and between physical
and non-physical (p. 176-177).
Hamilton outlines 3 different ways the cyborg is used in feminist
cybertheory: as metaphor, dreamlike fantasy, and / or literal being:
I suggests that the cyborg is most richly cast as all three.
Some feminist cybertheorists accept the cyborg as metaphor, often
for postmodern subjectivity; some consider the cultural
representation of the cyborg and the fantasies [usually masculine]
those representations embody; and yet other work considers the
potential of real cyborgs, of the fusion of body and machine
through communication and information technologies (p. 14).
Hamilton says the latter category, cyborg as literal being, is the least
explored with speculation that cyberspace, the Internet, and virtual reality
are making our bodies irrelevant (p. 20). Balsamo discusses "the body on the
electronic frontier," with technology such as the computer, I would argue, as
the covered wagon of this frontier. However, Balsamo doesn't problematize this
particular American, progressive metaphor of the frontier as colonial conquest
and the computer as an agent of colonization, erasing our bodies. Balsamo
does go on to reveal the virtual reality industry's tactics of painting VR as a
way to "experience it live" (p. 120), but without the "excess baggage" of our
bodies since VR technology provides experience "through an internalized
technological gaze" (p. 125).
Balsamo finds this supposed "body-free environment," which claims to be
free from gender and race (and, I would add, dis/ability), to be very gender
biased. After her VR experience, Balsamo "discovered that this conceptual denial
of the body is accomplished through the material repression of the physical
body" (p. 123). I believe that Haraway would agree with Balsamo that unpacking
whoever "controls the interpretation of bodily boundaries" is a feminist issue
(Haraway, p. 193).
Hamilton says the primacy of technology and cultural processes in this
coupling of the "literal cyborg" are not problematized. I would agree and
disagree. Haraway seems more intrigued with the cyborg as "political metaphor"
notion, while I believe Balsamo truly grapples with the literal cyborg in her
discussion of VR.
Disability scholars David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder (1997) argue that most of
the recent scholarship on "the body" has ignored a disability perspective.
Literature and these studies of "the body," in fact, only recognize disability
as a metaphor for "nearly every social conflict outside of its own ignoble
predicament in culture" (p.12). Mitchell and Snyder critique postmodern theory
and cybertheory for merely using disability in relation to technology:
without comment on the conflictual relationship of disabled
people to the equipment that theoretically affords them access to
able-bodied populations, architectural structures, and cultural
commodities. Nor is there any serious effort to specify the nature
of this usage within disabled communities themselves (p. 8).
Mitchell and Snyder specifically implicate the metaphor of prosthetic
identification used in cybertheory. This metaphor suggests that able-bodied
users of technology are functioning like persons with disabilities who use
assistive technology or prosthetics. Disability is also used as a metaphor in
Rosanne Stone's (1992, as cited in Crary & Kwinter) suggestion that having
alternative identities in cyberspace is comparable to having Multiple
Personality Disorder a comparison that is demeaning and ignores the lived
reality of MPD, as well as the fact that persons with MPD do not choose to have
When feminist cybertheory becomes more grounded in experience (as Balsamo
suggests with her VR experience), and moves beyond theoretical abstractions, I
believe it becomes more clear that we cannot uncritically use disability as a
metaphor for embodiment in cyberspace. Nor can we literally fuse bodies with
machines in every case in some sort of liberatory celebration of cyborgs.
Following Balsamo's more cautious cybertheory approach, I believe RSI is a
painful and jolting reminder of the physical consequences of the cyborg of
ignoring the body in performing repetitive tasks such as keyboarding on the
Internet and on deadline at work (or performing any repetitive assembly-line
work). To add to Wendell and Thompson, RSI as a disability is a biological
reality being caused by social constructions about what the limits of a "normal"
Journalism and American work culture
Work is being redefined as both literally female and
feminized, whether performed by men or women. To be feminized
means to be made extremely vulnerable; able to be disassembled,
re-assembled, exploited as a reserve labor force; seen less as
workers than as servers; subjected to time arrangements on and off
the paid job that make a mockery of a limited work day...
(Haraway, p. 190).
I will begin this section by exploring Juliet Schor's (1992) discussion of
U.S. work culture. Then I will briefly discuss the journalistic work culture
(professional and academic) by focusing on ideas from Hanno Hardt. Lastly, I'll
weave in a discussions of RSI flowing from the "internalized technological" gaze
inherent in U.S. and journalistic work practices.
Harvard economics professor Juliet Schor (1992) argues that American
workers are working nearly a month more per year with less time off than they
were 40 years ago. She notes that most researchers believe work is declining in
the United States. Those researchers, she writes, extol the American notion of
progress believing our lives are better than before and that American workers
are experiencing better working conditions because of technology. Schor herself
warns about considering the context of technology, since it can harness humans,
as well as free them (p. 6). She believes potentially liberating technology
unfortunately has arrived in a context of powerful economic incentives to
maintain long working hours.
Schor challenges those experts who say work has decreased from the medieval
era before the market system. She points out that the medieval laborer who
allegedly toiled from sun-up to sundown actually worked a very intermittent
schedule, with many rest and food breaks throughout the day and holidays
throughout the year. Schor argues that capitalism created strong incentives for
employers to keep hours long. These incentives began with a fixed wage that did
not vary with hours, which reappeared in twentieth century as the fixed annual
salary (the main reason for white-collar workers' long hours). "Other incentives
also came into play by the end of the nineteenth century, such as employers
desires to keep machinery operating continuously, and the beneficial effects of
long hours on workplace discipline (p. 48). Factories, and the use of artificial
lighting, allowed the working day to stretch into the night (p. 50). "By the
nineteenth century, the English agricultural laborer was working six days per
week, with only Good Friday and Christmas as official time off" (p. 51).
Two work trends around the turn of the century aimed to increase work pace
and further control workers Taylorism and Fordism trends that I see as
grandfathers of the RSI work culture. According to Schor, Frederick Winslow
Taylor's "scientific management" aimed to eliminate the conflict between capital
and labor, by paying strictly on the basis of actual work done. The setting of
rates was allegedly made "scientific" to insulate them from conflict, by using
time-and-motion studies to determine the pace (or "standard times") of
individual tasks. "Piece rates were then calculated on the basis of these
standards" (Schor, p. 58). This strategy, however, didn't eliminate conflict,
because the "process of discovering standard times became a game of cunning
between the operative and the man with the stopwatch" where workers would add
extra movements to resist being held to a certain standard time (Schor, p.
58-59). This process intentionally disassociated/alienated the labor process
from the skills of workers, as well as increased the pace of work.
With the increase in mechanization came an incentive for employers to make
sure they hired fewer workers and kept current skilled workers working longer
hours: "Once capital is invested, its owner has strong financial incentives to
see that it used as extensively as possible" (Schor, p. 59-60). In 1914, Henry
Ford created the moving conveyor belt, which gave management more control over
work pace. . Workers resisted, so Ford instituted an employment rent of a
$5-day, which Schor calls "a sophisticated economic incentive." Employment rents
were successful in making repetitious, low-paying jobs valuable to workers. "At
Ford, observers described the men as 'absolutely docile' after the 5-dollar day
came in," Schor writes (p. 59-62).
Schor shows that work has increased for all workers, across all categories
and occupations. The most visible group is women, who are coping with a double
load of overwork in the household and overwork at their jobs (p. 20). The
introduction of work technologies often affects marginalized groups such as
women first, but the damage caused by these technologies is ignored specifically
because of assumptions about women or from just ignoring women. Messing, Neis,
and Dumais (1995) argue that women's occupational health problems become quite
severe because they usually have to exist for quite some time and gain enormous
numbers (and transfer to male workers) before women are heard. They say women
were originally blamed for problems with the introduction of VDTs. In fact, they
argue, women paid the price for lack of research into possible health problems
from VDTs and the lack of workers' voices in implementing this technology women
suffered from miscarriages and still suffer from musculoskeletal problems such
However, Schor illuminates a possibly more disturbing trend: that overwork
is beginning with teenagers. Teens are working longer hours than ever before.
"In middle-class homes, much of this work is motivated by consumerism: teenagers
buy clothes, music, even cars" (p. 26). Teens are working full-time in addition
to full-time school. "Teachers report that students are falling asleep in class,
getting lower grades, and cannot pursue after-school activities" (p. 27). So, it
would seem that Americans are being socialized, at a young age, into a culture
that celebrates overwork at the expense of health, relationships, and leisure.
Schor argues that employers can now ask for more and more, with the lure of
the carrot (income) and the fear of dismissal. However, there is a price to pay
for working long hours at a forced pace. Schor writes that studies in even the
early twentieth century showed worker fatigue impairing efficiency and their
ability to function off the job. "If the demands of work are too great,
productivity sufferers, because people are just not capable of maintaining the
pace" (p. 65). There are physical limits to what humans can do. Unfortunately,
workers are encouraged to push those limits, suggesting that work itself by
definition has become harmful since industrialization. Journalistic work
certainly is no exception.
Journalistic work culture
As Hardt (1990), Smith & Dyer (1992), and Hardt and Brennen (1995) have
noted, traditional media histories have ignored individual rank-and-file
newsworkers and their working conditions. These histories, instead, are
"biographies of power" that detail the institutional power of news organizations
and of star reporters and editors. These histories assume that what is important
about newspapers, for example, is their circulation and technologies. The
effects of these technologies on newsworkers is ignored. An occupational health
perspective demands that the history of newsworkers themselves be uncovered.
Because technology itself has become so internalized in the practice of
journalism, a history of newsworkers and their working conditions by necessity
must include a discussion of technology (i.e. Hardt, 1990). Scholars in the
Hardt and Brennen (1995) anthology and Ted Curtis Smythe (1992), begin to trace
the introduction of industrial technologies into the newsroom around the turn of
the century and how this negatively affected working conditions, job tasks, pay,
professionalism and divisions between newsroom and composing staff, the public
service ethos, and specialized training of newsworkers (i.e., Salcetti, 1995;
Salcetti (1995) specifically examines a historical turning point in the
mechanization of the newsroom around the 1880s when she believes newspapers hit
their mechanical stride. The introduction of the telegraph, the typewriter, and
the telephone increased expectations of speed and productivity for newsworkers.
It actually changed the nature of certain job tasks. For example, reporters
became mere news gatherers (not writers) who called in their stories to rewrite
staff who did the actual writing, often affecting the accuracy of the work. This
is merely one example of a division of labor, a compartmentalizing of newswork.
Reporters thus became an expendable, entry-level position.
This technology affected the actual working conditions and job tasks, but it
also became a means to place different monetary values on different newswork.
Reporters were paid poorly compared to editors (Salcetti; Smythe, 1992; Solomon,
1995). Solomon argues that this same time period saw the rise of a commercial
model of journalism, where profit became the focus. He, like Salcetti, focuses
on how the introduction of technology caused an increase in the specialization
and division of labor. One of his examples is "the descent of the copy editor"
as copy editing tasks became divorced from creativity to merely include
repetitive, boring drudgery that was not valued. The creation of the copy editor
and reporter also created a division of labor that was somewhat confrontational
since, by definition, copy editors edited reporters' work. Solomon speculates
that this is one of many factors preventing solidarity in the newsroom.
Journalists worked under a forced pace, with little pay, with long hours, and
no time for social life. Brennen (1995), in her study of novels written by and
about journalists, 1919-1938, details more closely some of the particulars of
newsroom working conditions. Brennen sees these novels as a valid source of
information about the real working conditions, following Raymond Williams'
notions of cultural materialism; she doesn't blindly accept their portrayals,
but situates them as realist novels. Newsrooms in the novels were dirty, noisy,
and stressful. The newsworkers within might work 24 hours, without sleep and
without a decent meal. Newswork was portrayed as for the young. Those who stuck
with it longer, she writes, are portrayed as suffering from early death from
overwork, alcoholism, drug abuse, and insanity. The novels also include examples
of reporters being socialized into suppressing the news and facing discipline
(including firing) for not following the rules. Although she mentions the
alienation and demoralization caused by this, she doesn't specifically mention
the novels portraying other effects on the newsworkers' health.
The dogged commitment of journalists to such seemingly grueling work is
complex and requires a consideration of what Hardt calls the tension between
lofty ideals and exploitation. First of all, newsworkers are easily called
into work because of their public service ethos: a First Amendment mandate that
allows news organizations to hide their profit-seeking and exploitation of
newsworkers under the guise of informing the public (i.e., Salcetti; Solomon).
Under the public service ethos, even if workers are unionized, they may not find
themselves able to strike because they'd see themselves as betraying the public.
The desire of newsworkers to see themselves as professionals also plays a
major role. Solomon argues that as the commercial model of journalism became
prevalent, newspapers themselves became a high-capital expenditure meaning that
publishers began to come from a much higher class background than newsworkers.
Hardt (1990) adds that the addition of technology affected this ideology of
professionalism by creating another specialization/division of labor: between
what was seen as the intellectual labor of newsroom workers and the manual labor
of the composing room workers. Once newsroom workers began to ally themselves
with white-collar interests, unionization seemed too blue collar. Publishers, by
creating such organizations as the ANPA, also began fighting attempts at
unionization, fearing any loss of control over workers. This exercise of control
helps explain the anti-labor bias of newspapers. Ironically, as Solomon points
out, newsworkers such as reporters became expendable, with no bargaining power,
while typesetters with needed, specialized skills unionized and had more
bargaining power and better working conditions. This suggests that newsworkers
historically are actually more "blue collar" in salary and working conditions
than they'd like to believe.
Lastly, with this increase in specialization, Salcetti argues that
journalism programs began to reflect the need for specialized training. The
conferring of degrees created another class division in the newsroom, between
those without degrees and those from higher socioeconomic background who did
have degrees. Journalism schools struggled with (and still do) whether to
function like trade schools, that serve the interests of publishers seeking
workers, or to model other professional schools, which would "serve"
civilization with journalists educated in a broad liberal arts tradition. By
excluding composing room work, journalists only needed to be taught certain
skills. Hardt (1990) critiques journalism programs as lacking self-criticism and
any criticism of the media because of the close ties between journalism schools
and the news industry. He argues that journalism historians have had to work
within this restricted environment that fosters elitist media histories.
Hardt urges a focus on the histories of rank-and-file journalists and their
working conditions as a necessity for creating a collective history and sense of
struggle, and to better inform college journalists about the realities of the
workplace they will be entering. Without such a focus on working conditions and
the occupational injuries related to these conditions, I would agree that it
seems that journalists are uncritically educated and socialized into ideals of
public service and professionalism that hide the less savory and even physically
dangerous realities of the journalistic workplace.
RSI work culture
Thus, the moral generosity that seeks to compensate for
physical differences makes cultural outcasts of its recipients by
assuming that individual bodies must conform to institutional
standards, rather than restructuring the social environment to
accommodate physical variety (Thomson, p. 51).
Thomson, above, remarks on how persons with disabilities have been excluded
from the workforce under the guise of moral generosity from a Puritan and
classical liberal standpoint but it seems clear that even "able" bodies are
expected to conform to certain work standards, instead of vice versa. This
inability to integrate the complex, physical realities of work and our bodies
has helped foster, I believe, the current epidemic of disability from work
itself - occupational injuries such as repetitive strain injuries (RSI) in
computer workplaces. The research analysis of RSI and other occupational
injuries should focus on more than accommodation after-the-fact. Because
occupational injuries are preventable, the focus should be studying the complex
cultural causes of RSI and advocating prevention through changing the
organization of work tasks and required work hours and days.
Repetitive stress injuries are not a new phenomenon, according to Wolkomir
(1994). He says that in 1713, scribes suffered from writer's cramp. However,
"[w]ith industrialization, which demanded ceaseless iterations of precise arm
and hand motions, strain injuries proliferated. Mostly, the crippled workers
suffered silently" (p. 90). The assembly-line nature of industrial work has been
affecting "blue collar" workers for some time. It's only within the last 10
years or so that we've even heard of repetitive stress injuries, because of the
introduction of the computer to the "white collar" workplace clearly a
workplace that affects more middle- to upper-class workers.
Occupational health statistics and studies on journalists are difficult to
come by. The best examples currently are anecdotal. For example, Jill
Rackmill, who moved quickly through the ranks at "Dateline NBC" from intern to
associate producer, first experienced RSI pain when she was 21 from her
newswork. However, she says ignored it, because "journalism is a culture where
you work through pain" (Burkitt, 1996) a clear example of how pain is "normal"
in journalistic work and how journalists are alienated from their bodies in a
work culture that fosters RSI. Like journalists, the proliferation of computers
in universities has created a RSI problem for faculty and students who use them
to write, e-mail, and explore sources on the Internet (Rimer, 1997).
A contemporary occupational health perspective on newsworkers needs to take
their history into consideration and the societal context of work in the United
States into consideration. Newsworkers today are not immune from part-time,
temporary, and shift work and increases in work hours caused by capital
accumulation strategies dating back to the 1880s (Solomon, 1995), along with
increases in occupational illnesses from technology such as RSI (Foreman &
Swanson, 1995; Hembree & Sandoval, 1991). Major newsrooms saw their first cases
of RSI in the mid-1980s with the increased use of computers in the newsroom
(i.e. the Los Angeles Times and Newsday). Hembree and Sandoval blame
musculoskeletal injuries such as RSI partly on the "overwork ethic" and "macho"
newsroom management attitudes towards work. Foreman and Swanson argue that two
other major technological innovations around computers have increased
musculoskeletal injuries such as RSI: pagination and the mouse. Pagination has
made trips to the composing room obsolete, meaning newsroom workers can
continually type in the newsroom. Pascarelli says the mouse inherently causes
strain because of the grip necessary to use it.
I've focused mainly on occupational health problems such as RSI that are
musculoskeletal injuries from technology and overwork for newsworkers. However,
these are not the only contemporary issues. Cook, Banks and Thompson (1995) and
Thompson, Fernback and Heider (1993) have studied occupational stress in
newsworkers. Cook, Banks and Thompson surveyed full-time copy editors at 15
daily papers and found that supervisor leadership style and personal hardiness
are related to job stress and health problems in the copy editors. Forty percent
of their sample was planning to leave journalism. One of the stress factors was
the changing expectations of technical skills for copy editors, especially
related to design (such as pagination), and the lack of training for these new
expected skills related to new technology. Thompson, Fernback and Heider
performed a limited case study of a newspaper in Colorado and found that
management style and demands affected occupational stress more than deadline
work. The workers involved described a transient management culture that
insisted on making its mark on workers while making them feel devalued. Despite
this stress, workers found comfort in camaraderie, creating a family-like
atmosphere through support and banter. While these studies represent a beginning
attempt to capture an occupational health perspective on journalists, neither
one represents an in-depth effort to capture newsworkers' perspectives on their
own working conditions.
Biographical and autobiographical works highlight these occupational health
problems, along with more specific accounts of strain from racial and gender
discrimination. Nan Robertson's (1992) biographical study of women newsworkers
at the New York Times uncovers countless incidents of discrimination. However,
she also details a history of the paper's occupational health problems, ranging
from depression and melancholia, to alcoholism, suicide, and heart attacks.
Robertson herself admits suffering from severe depression and alcoholism after
the death of her husband. Jill Nelson (1993), an African-American writer
formerly working for the Washington Post, discusses the racism and sexism she
fought there as well as her own drinking and overwork habits. As she asserted
her voice more in her writing and became more active in the union, she was
disciplined indirectly through reassignment and by having her stories buried.
Finally, Nelson suffers an emotional breakdown, unable to even leave bed because
she is so depressed and demoralized.
I've suggested, from a feminist disability perspective, that disability is
socially constructed from biological reality. Occupational injuries themselves
are biological realities caused by societal constructions about ability that
don't consider the limits of workers' bodies. The history of newsworkers
suggests that difficult working conditions have been held in tension with lofty
ideals of professionalism and public service. Nelson's in-depth account provides
us with an answer to the question of what the real toll of dealing with
management control over workers and discrimination is, suggesting that
newsworkers themselves provide the best perspective on their working conditions.
College newsworkers and their bodies learn journalistic work
Now here's a big secret: The past two days, we DI staffers
have been straddling one of the biggest polarizations of our
lives one leg basking in the warm rush of journalistic ecstasy,
the other standing knee-deep in missed assignments (Wilbur, 1996).
So, how do these cultural factors contributing to alienation of the body in
our RSI work culture play out? Hamilton points out that a "frequent criticism
leveled against recent feminist cultural analysis is its distance from the field
from actual grass-roots practices, social institutions, and social relations"
(p. 22). This is a reminder of the value of doing actual fieldwork to ground the
theory used to unpack these processes and the perspectives of persons involved
with this technology in our work culture.
I focus here (for time and length consideration) specifically on my
interviews with my three main informants of my Daily Iowan study: Rima, a
biracial woman; Stephanie, a white woman; and Dave, a white man. All three
informants are graduating seniors. All are editors, which made them more
easily observable in terms of the amount of time they spent in the newsroom. I
was acquainted with Dave from a class we took (in Spring 1995) and with
Stephanie from social gatherings.
These students are specifically in school to get a degree. However, they
are already learning to overwork themselves by combining the DI and school and
learning to value their journalistic work over their schoolwork as more
important and practical. Rima is taking 16 hours of class, while working at the
DI and working two other jobs. Her classes include a class in international law
and a graduate level literature class. Stephanie is taking 14 hours of class,
and working about 35 hours a week at the DI. Dave is only taking 7 hours of
class, but works at the DI about 60-65 hours a week. Along with class and
working at the DI Sunday through Thursday, Dave spent most of the fall semester
also commuting to the Quad City Times each Friday leaving Saturday as his only
day off so that he could get "clips" to support his resume.
"Making a difference": The public service ethos
All three of them enjoy working at the DI and enjoy their coworkers. When I
ask Stephanie if she likes working at the DI, she says, "Yeah, I do. I love it."
It's like Lord of the Flies. You take 40 twentysomethings,
who have no skills, give them this project, give some of them
shields and some of them swords and some of them nothing and watch
them fight it out. It's a situation where kids have never worked
with their peers before. Or they've never worked in a professional
situation, so everything is taken personally. Everything is fodder
for gossip. Everything is a potential problem.
Well the amazing part is sometimes we do such good work. And
it's completely by accident. Another thing that is really
important is that, all of the sudden, you've got 40 or 50 kids in
there who've come to journalism, and just get a sense of
empowerment from it. They see their work, in the paper, they see
people reading it, and they're like, "I am having an impact on the
community, where before I was nothing, you know, I was just a cog
in the daily workings."
Stephanie feels she's "making a difference," and that's important. She also
enjoys and says she's good at "organizing things" whereas other people are into
"the other aspects of journalism."
Dave knows journalism is what he wants to do, whether in newspapers or
magazines. "I think, each person has something that they're supposed to be
doing, and... this is what I enjoy," he says. "And for me to find something that
I'm good at, and that I enjoy, and that I'm receiving recognition for well,
it's a can't-miss prospect for me." Where he is and how much he's making doesn't
necessarily matter to Dave but doing a good job does: "Anywhere I go where I
know I'm doing a good job, whether I'm making $12,000 a year or $42,000 a year.
... If I'm doing a good job, and can live, I'm happy, that's all that matters
me." Dave also enjoys the teaching and learning aspect of the student newspaper.
"Seeing people learn is my biggest rush," he says.
While Rachel feels combining school and the DI makes her feel like she
doesn't "have a life," she does feel "some sort of purpose there that I wouldn't
get some just taking classes":
I'm a person who needs to be able to contribute something. I
have a reason to wake up, and classes don't stimulate me that
way. I mean, I love reading and I love learning and I do, all the
time, even outside of class. But, I'm not stimulated. (laughs) I d
on't know that I'm really stimulated by the DI. But, in some sense
anyway, there's always a place to go after class. And I need that
place to go. I mean it plays such a role in my life. Maybe too
big a role.
While Dave, Rachel, and Stephanie all say they hang out with their DI
colleagues outside of work and school, Stephanie says emphatically that "it's
the best part":
In other jobs that I've had, you know, you'd hang out with
your work friends, but not like this. I think there's a sense of
"us against the world," but, the world against us at the same
time. I mean, when I'm in class, I get shit every day. Every day.
I was in class one day We were talking, [a] kid said "Yeah, well,
12 percent of my U-Bill goes to the Daily Iowan through USG funds"
Then he goes: "Not by choice!" and, started laughing, and, you
know I'm sitting right there. And he knew I worked at the Daily
Stephanie says this "sense of solidarity" among DI staff comes from this
criticism they experience. She feels that this solidarity might not be there
later on as a professional, "because everybody won't be the same age." Stephanie
adds that another reason this "solidarity" won't exist later in professional
life is because "there will be a hierarchy. But right now, there is no
hierarchy." Dave agrees that everyone likes to hang out together, because "a lot
of us are just friends" and because "it lets us vent."
The benefits of working at the DI are a sense of purpose in providing
information to the community and a voice to readers, a sense of solidarity and
fun with coworkers, and a sense of personal education and satisfaction at a job
well done. However, Dave illustrates how he already accepts these "non-material"
benefits as compensating for poor salary. And Rima hints that perhaps the DI
plays too big of a role in her life.
"Yeah we're always starving": The physical consequences
Rima says she gets "very stressed out." Part of this stress, she says,
comes from needing to feel like she has "control":
And I feel such a lack of control in the newsroom. Stories
are always falling through, the phone is always ringing, the
enormous pile of faxes, the mail, ... having to edit stories ...
and keep on top of story ideas ... It just feels like so... much,
and it seems I never feel quite in control. And it drives me nuts.
I ask if she feels like she "ought to be able to look calm, cool, and collect
all the time" because she's the editor. She does; she puts a great deal of
pressure on herself:
I tell Rima that in my fieldnotes, most of the comments made about not
eating come from her. "Yeah we're always starving," she says. She adds that she
feels tired a lot. Rima is hypoglycemic and says she gets "out of whack" when
she doesn't eat. She says she will have surgery, a tonsillectomy, coming up and
astounds me by saying, "I can't wait, so I can sleep a lot:
I mean, I'm honestly looking forward to surgery... I don't
eat enough. I don't eat on a regular basis. Part of it is not
having any money. And the other part of it is not making time for
it. I don't make time for it. I mean I rarely come in the newsroom
and leave before I'm done for the day. ... Like, I walked in here
at 12 and I haven't left yet. And usually it's like that Sundays.
People will go out and get me food. But I won't leave the newsroom.
She won't leave the newsroom, again, because of the pressure she feels. "Well,
... if a story's still out, and it's coming in soon ... I need to be there,"
Stephanie feels she gets enough sleep and enough to eat although she adds:
"I don't eat right." However, Stephanie says she makes a point of taking a big
lunch for herself:
Because I need to have two hours a week where I can just sit
down with my friend and be like, "what's going on?" ... Thursday
night, I'll go out with the DI people and, you know, drink myself
She says she needs the big lunches and the drinking, because "I don't do
anything else, but work." She says Dave takes his two-hour lunches for the same
reason, "because he needs to." Dave says that his dinner breaks are "my luxury
for myself." He feels, "people... don't understand why I do it." He explains
that he gets to the DI around noon and works through lunch. So, a long dinner
break is necessary. "If anyone has anything to say to me then tough," he laughs.
"Because if I don't [take that dinner break], you're gonna see me screaming."
While both Dave and Stephanie take time for themselves to eat, I don't see any
of them taking this initiative when it comes to their long work hours. And Rima
clearly feels that her work situation is out of control specifically out of her
ability to control it.
Rima says she doesn't experience any pain from work, but both Stephanie and
Dave do. I find myself worrying about them, and lecturing them a little on this
topic. Stephanie says she has shoulder problems, from the "terrible chairs at
the DI." She also has hand pain from using a mouse for a page design class and
C: Are you worried about that at all?
S: I'm worried about, the hand. Because I know that I will
be using that mouse for the rest of my life. I know once I leave
the DI, I'll probably have a decent chair. ...They have different
S: That can correct that problem. ... But I'm not worried
about the repetitive not yet. When it starts to really become a
problem I might worry about it. ... I suppose I should.
As for Dave, he says he experiences a lot of lower back pain. He, like
Stephanie, tries to find a good chair, because "there's some that actually tilt
forward, which are messed up, which are broken." His back "burns" sometimes when
he goes home at night. "But I've never had any problems with my neck, or
anything. And a lot of people will just sit there like that and you'll see them
going (sigh) like this [rubbing their necks]." Although Dave and Stephanie are
conscious of their pain, they tend to blame the technology itself, as if getting
new or comfortable equipment would solve everything. However, there is no real
examination by these college newsworkers that their (over)use of this technology
in and out of the newsroom is the cause of their budding RSIs.
learning to be a journalist/
It's all about today, because I have no idea if I'm even
going to make it till tomorrow ( sign on reporters row, Daily Iowan
When I ask what advice she'd have for changing and improving the working
conditions for student journalists, Stephanie argues, "I don't know if you wanna
change it," because "this is a rite of passage. You know I'm gonna have to learn
to work this hard because it's probably gonna be worse later on." Fatalism or
realism? A little of both, I think, and they're not necessarily unhealthy. Will
she apply her critical thinking skills to her own work situation? That could
make the difference, I think.
Dave's general advice, though, is somewhat contradictory, much like the
student journalist experience itself. On the one hand, he says, "Allow time for
yourself." However, he also argues that student journalists need to "realize
that sleep is a luxury":
If you have a big story to do and you have a big paper to
write, don't skip on the story, or skip on your paper because you
need to sleep. You're in college and this is the time that you're
gonna be worn down. I mean, that's part of the college experience
is never... having enough sleep in my opinion. So just live life.
Just do everything you possibly can.
I find this advice a little scary and fatalistic. Do things really have to be
that way? Does being a student really mean no sleep? Does being a journalist
really mean brutally hard work? Dave's advice suggests a youthful sense of
invulnerability, but also resignation. They're already learning that there's
nothing they can do about their working conditions. But, they're at a university
where they should be taught that they can do something. I wish my college
professors had taught me about the risk of RSI, of acquiring a career-ending
disability just because I did my job. That's the dark side of journalism.
However, there's more than that side. As I interview Dave, we talk of how
amazing it is the range of people you encounter in the newsroom their
personalities, how they handle deadlines differently, etc. I told him that one
of the issues that sticks out for me is "all these different people with all
these different backgrounds and different personalities. They have to come
together... to put out this thing, called a newspaper."
"Yeah, a common goal," Dave agrees with me.
I can't help but think about these student journalists moving on to the
professional journalism world and being replaced by other students. It is a
cycle but whether it's a healthy cycle, or one that marks a cycle of physical
alienation we learn as workers is still questionable. It's hard not to be swept
up in my nostalgia and the "rush" of energy these journalists have for putting
out their newspaper. They experience a great deal of pride in this civic
purpose, and enjoyment from the playful banter in the newsroom setting.
Unfortunately, they already are unquestioningly resigning themselves to
what they see as the unchangeable demands of journalistic work. And the
questions arises of where college newsworkers are learning that this
journalistic work will be "worse" later on and that they must suffer through
this "rite of passage." Occupational injuries are preventable, and even this
preliminary study with its limited findings should be seen as a call-to-arms
that college newsworkers are becoming injured before they even leave the
university. As students and faculty at a university and in a journalism program,
we should be taught ergonomics and other healthy work behaviors as well as
advocating for change in the journalistic and academic workplaces regarding
repetitive workload guidelines (see also Jackson, 1992).
As Haraway remarks: "The machine is not an it to be animated, worshipped,
and dominated. The machine is us, our processes, an aspect of our embodiment. We
can be responsible for machines; they do not dominate or threaten us" (p. 203).
We are not cyborgs being taken over by machines. We are humans, grounded in
complex human bodies who have invented these machines and who need to carefully
examine the work and power contexts of these machines. By grounding our
theorizing and our research in disability theory and the diverse realities of
living in our bodies, we can begin to make visible the complex, contradictory
attitudes and practices involved in how we interact with technology and how a
disability such as RSI has come to prominence in the twentieth century.
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 Dr. Emil Pascarelli and journalist Deborah Quilter (1994) write that RSI,
also called Cumulative Trauma Disorder or CTD, is caused by a number of factors
in today's workplace: repetitive duties, forced work pace, strained, static
postures (such as sitting for eight hours at a computer, or standing at an
assembly line) and a "deconditioned" workforce (meaning workers who are not
initially physically fit). These factors all strain muscles and tendons, causing
microscopic tears in tendons and injuring muscles, which decreases range of
motion, causes pain and can lead to permanent soft tissue and nerve damage.
 I sometimes also refer to "RSI work culture" in another sense: The
existence of RSI in the newsroom and other workplaces creates a culture of
disability identity surrounding RSI. This work focuses on the first notion of
RSI work culture. I hope to focus on the latter in subsequent research.
 As disability scholars Mitchell and Snyder (1997) point out, there has
been a great deal of current academic interest in "the body" (i.e. Terry and
Urla, 1995; Jacobus, Keller, & Shuttleworth, 1990). I realize that this
particular phrasing probably arose to prevent universalizing about our bodies by
separating them out as a theoretical conception that is grounded in cultural and
historical contexts. However, I find this particular phrasing objectifying and
guilty of separation from our diverse lived bodily realities (as does Mairs,
1996). Thus, I will endeavor to avoid this practice.
 The critique of dualistic thinking, particularly the separation between
body and mind, is a hallmark of feminism. Feminists such as anthropologist
Sherry Ortner (1974) have shown that women are usually aligned with their bodies
and nature, which are both devalued compared to the conceptual alliance of men
to their minds and culture.
 Wendell (1989) emphasizes her belief "that disability is socially
constructed from biological reality" (p. 107). Feminist disability scholar
Rosemarie Thomson (1997) also agrees with this culturally situated definition of
disability. Thomson writes that disability is a "representation" of how bodies
are interpreted and compared in our culture. She, like Wendell, believes that
this definitional process results in value judgments: "Disability... is the
attribution of corporeal deviance not so much a property of bodies as a product
of cultural roles about what bodies should be or do" (p. 6).
 In fact, only 15 percent of persons with disabilities are born with their
disabilities (Shapiro, 1994, p. 7). Despite the commonality of disability in our
culture figures range from 35 million to 120 million persons in America with
disabilities, depending on the definition used persons with disabilities are
still treated like the minority (Shapiro, 1994).
 Martin (1992) finds in another ethnography, specifically exploring women
and medical texts, that women in particular are increasingly alienated from
their bodies in the medical system's negative labeling of natural body functions
such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. This alienation, Martin argues,
also comes from the control the medical system attempts to exert over women in
the birth process.
 I'd like to thank Mia Consalvo for raising my awareness about feminist
cybertheory through sharing materials, through conversations, and by encouraging
me to reread Donna Haraway.
 I'd like to thank Laura Donaldson for alerting me to this problem, and her
elegant wording of this colonizing aspect of the frontier metaphor.
 I am referring to Haraway's celebration of "women of color" as a
transgressive cyborg identity by occupying contradictory locations to complicate
identity (p. 180). I tend to agree with Joan Scott (1989) that the example of
"women of color" and their oppositional reading as exemplary cyborg politics is
problematic, bordering on romanticism and essentialism (p. 217). Haraway also
cites Chela Sandoval's notion of political identity through coalition/affinity,
creating "oppositional consciousness" (Haraway, p. 180). The idea of the cyborg
as a metaphor for postmodern subjectivity is interesting. In fact, Rosemarie
Thompson herself uses this metaphor to describe the "confused boundaries" people
with disabilities experience. However useful this metaphor may be in
conceptualizing postmodern subjectivity, I refuse to erase the boundary between
technology and the body when it comes to work and occupational injury such as
 Again, I thank Mia Consalvo for sharing Stone's metaphor and the cite in
our Feminist Cultural Studies class in Spring 1996.
 Although I'm not sure how to gracefully weave this in, I believe we
cannot discuss issues of uses of technology without exploring the conditions of
production of that technology. Haraway reminds us that what she calls the "New
Industrial Revolution" is producing a new working class, especially because
"women in third world countries are the preferred labor force for the
science-based multinationals in the export-processing sectors, particularly in
electronics" (p. 190). These workers themselves are at risk for RSI from the
repetitive work tasks and long hours involved in their jobs.
 Schor remarks that her data on the medieval laborer comes from England,
since there is no medieval equivalent for the U.S. worker.
 Practices such as Taylorism are what Michel Foucault (1995) would refer
to as "disciplines of normality" meant to control workers' bodies. Media and
sociology scholar Stuart Ewen (1988) calls Taylor a "pioneer" in the "attack on
the human subject" for this managerial strategy of " systemic observation of
human behavior in the workplace, and the subsequent standardization of behavior
in order to control the workforce more effectively" (p. 80).
 Schor notes that this rising workload has physical and social
consequences, including: stress, stress-related diseases (especially among
women), more workers comp claims for stress, sleep deficits, no quality time for
families (especially problem for women), and strain on marriages (p. 11-12).
 Balka (1995), for example, shows that the introduction of new technology
decreased the decision latitude and increased work pace and work demand for
women telephone operators in Newfoundland increasing occupational stress.
 Hardt (1990) argues that most of the writing on communication and
technology "has been preoccupied either with how current industrial concerns can
be accommodated or with how media technology affects audiences as consumers" (p.
346). These writings, along with media histories, according to Hardt, glorify
power and technology while ignoring the working conditions of rank-and-file
journalists. For example, the well-used Emery and Emery (1992) media history
text's only remarks on actual working conditions refers to city rooms where
editors: "often feared for their jobs and many reporters toiled 14 to 16 hours
per day to earn, perhaps, $20 to $30 per week, instead of a regular salary,
under a degrading time and space system" (p. 179). Emery and Emery add that
pressure was kept on low-ranking reporters by "instituting spy systems and
keeping benefits to a minimum" (p. 179). The rest of the book delineates a
progressive history of journalism based on technological development.
 Concerns about the professional status, working conditions, and salaries
of journalists hold from the past to the present. Journalists' salaries are
notoriously low, while they still work long and odd hours (evenings and
weekends) the turnover rate for journalists is high. So, what keeps bringing
more journalists in? Dorfman (1985) argues that "journalism hangs on to some
mystique of whitewashing Aunt Polly's fence: it looks like so much fun it
appears almost sinful to want to get paid for doing it" (p. 25). I believe this
journalistic "mystique" helps explain why newsworkers continue to labor for long
hours and further suggests why studying the perspectives of newsworkers
themselves is important.
 Hardt situates media histories within the practices of journalism faculty
in the academy who, as former journalists, reflect the journalistic ideology of
"objectivity" and "admiration of free enterprise" in the portrayal of the
American press system as consisting of mainly successful institutions and
leaders. Hardt further argues that American press historians and journalism are
vulnerable to criticism from the journalism industry because of this cyclical
relationship between journalism industry and academia. I agree with him that the
pressure in U.S. journalism programs to train what Lafky (1993) might call
"ideologically reliable" journalists is considerable and has resulted in "lack
of constructive media criticism (and even of the teaching of critical skills);
[and] ... increasing dependence upon external support (often from national media
industries)" (Hardt, 1990, p. 357).
 Barbara Zang (1991), in her research on carpal tunnel syndrome coverage
and medical studies, found that RSI studies originally showed that women were
more likely than men to get RSI pointing to women's smaller wrists and hands as
a factor. However, she found that more recent studies clarified this difference:
women are more likely to be in lower-paying, lower level positions that require
more repetitive work (whether clerical, assembly-line, etc.). When men are in
the same positions, they have the same incidence of RSI. Zang's study reveals a
gender bias in medical research, on top of the gender bias constructed in the
structure of the workplace.
 My initial efforts to track down occupational health statistics on
journalists has been somewhat unsuccessful. A call to the Newspaper Guild it
found that their number had been changed, but no one answered at the new number.
I left a message for the communication director at SPJ which was never returned.
I did speak with Craig Branson, the publication director at ASNE who informed me
he didn't think there was any way I'd find such statistics, because they hadn't
been compiled. He said that he believed it would especially be impossible to
track down substance abuse statistics because they are covered under company
health insurance and not made public. This self-reported nature of work-related
illnesses and injuries suggests a problem with the accuracy of any statistic I
find. However, I will continue my efforts to obtain this information. The most
recent RSI statistics I have from the Bureau Of Labor Statistics shows that the
top two industries with the highest number of RSI disorders in 1994 were the
motor vehicles and equipment industry, with 52,500 cases, and the meat products
industry, with 40,200 cases. Newspapers, by contrast, are 32nd on that list,
with 2,300 cases. RSI affects more than 700,000 workers a year and accounts for
$1 of every $3 spent on workers compensation, according to the Occupational
Health and Safety Administration ("OSHA scales back...," 1995). However, studies
show that RSIs are under- reported (Hembree & Sandoval, 1991).
 Foreman and Swanson, and Hembree and Sandoval argue that management
attitude is important. Many newsworker RSI cases have been contested. However,
the Los Angeles Times created a "RSI room" for workers to rest in and exercise
in. Retraining typing techniques is also a step taken. Newsworkers who already
have RSI may use voice computers, but voice computers are not a panacea because
they are slow. Pascarelli adds that if work organization is not changed to
ensure different work tasks, then voice computers will cause vocal cord strain
(he's already seeing this in his RSI clinic).
 The survey only covered full-time copy editors from 15 daily newspapers.
The participant-observation study only involved two 1-2 hour field visits,
focusing on only six copy editors.
 The student journalists cited here all signed informed consent forms and
chose their own pseudonyms.
 Rima prefers the label "biracial," as someone with a white mother and
African American father.
 Again, this was a preliminary study conducted in October and November
1996. There has been much debate in anthropology as to what the best techniques
are for writing up ethnographic research (i.e. Wolf, 1992; Clifford & Marcus,
1986; Behar & Gordon, 1995). I will use the present tense, not to create a
timeless ethnographic present, but to remind readers that meanings are
continually being constructed and to avoid the awkwardness of past tense. I also
continue to use first-person referrals to situate myself as a researcher in this
text, revealing my authority in constructing it.
 The student journalists at the DI work Sunday through Thursday to put out
a morning paper Monday through Friday for the University of Iowa community a
readership of at least 20, 000, according to the DI circulation office. There
are 83 student journalists who work at the DI: 45 are men, 38 are women. I
observed at the Daily Iowan, from October to November 1996. I'd like to thank
William Casey, publisher of the DI, for those statistics.
 For example, Harvard and MIT are creating RSI support groups, information
on RSI at freshman orientation, and monthly lectures on RSI (Rimer, 1997).