advancing media production research

International Communications Association Post-Conference
International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) Pre-conference
University of Leeds, June 24 2013
Advancing Media Production Research is a one-day ICA Post-conference and IAMCR Preconference. It is hosted by the Cultural Production and Media Policy Research Group and the
Journalism Studies Research Group of the Institute of Communications Studies at the University
of Leeds, and is initiated and co-sponsored by the IAMCR Media Production Analysis Working
Group. Additional co-sponsors are the Journalism Studies Section of the ICA and the Media
Industries and Cultural Production Working Group of ECREA (European Communication Research
and Education Association).
As the internal workings of media institutions change beyond the recognition of early researchers,
and as the challenges to understand those internal functions become ever greater, there is a need
to review what new knowledge is emerging from production research, what gaps remain, what
challenges to production research persist, and to discuss how those might be
overcome. Researchers in the UK might question if, in the post-Levenson Report age, media
institutions will become more transparent and open to scrutiny, or less? This conference is
intended to address the issues raised in the process of researching within media, journalistic, and
cultural organisations, primarily from the anthropological and sociological traditions of long-term
exposure to production cultures through ethnographic observation or participant
observation. Scholars like Tuchman and Born have provided insights into production cultures
which have shaped contemporary understandings, but can such research keep pace with the rate
of change in media production environments? And is the classic research setting of the newsroom
or studio now too limiting; should our focus shift, for news at least, to the journalistic “ecosystem,”
as Anderson has argued?
The conference features discussions with prominent researchers of media production addressing:
- How theories of journalism and cultural production have been advanced and challenged by recent
media production ethnography
- The ongoing challenge of access to media and cultural institutions for in-depth, critical research
- Pressing questions for production research in the coming decade
Event Organisation
For ICS: Chris Paterson, David Lee, Anamik Saha, Daniel Mutibwa, Toussaint Nothias, Liz Pollard
IAMCR Working Group for Media Production Analysis, chair Roel Pujk
ICA Journalism Studies Section chair, Stephanie Craft
ECREA Cultural Production Working Group chair, David Hesmondhalgh
With grateful acknowledgement for support to the University of Leeds Institutute of Communications Studies (Prof.
David Hesmondhalgh, Head) and School of Music (Prof. Martin Iddon, Head)
Conference Website:
School of Music, Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall Foyer
School of Music, Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall
Dr. Chris Paterson, Institute of Communications Studies
Professor David Hesmondhalgh, Institute of Communications Studies
KEYNOTE 1: The Cultural Industries and Production Research
School of Music, Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall
Professor Georgina Born, University of Oxford
School of Music, Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall
Chair: Professor Philip Schlesinger, University of Glasgow
Participants to be confirmed.
PARALLEL SESSIONS 1: findings and provocations
Investigations of Television Industries
Lecture Theatre 2 (Room G.11)
Chair: Tim Havens
Why women leave media production
Anne O’Brien
Limits to change – organisational constraints on innovation
Roel Puijk
Good fences make good audiences (and frustrated researchers): Obstacles and strategies in television production
Oranit Klein-Shagrir
Formats and the changing practices of television producers
Anthony Quinn
Investigations of Digital Industries
Lecture Theatre 3(Room G.12)
Chair: Chris Anderson
Critical Perspectives on Film and Transmedia Production in the Digital Age
Doris Baltruschat
Cultural biographies of application software
Frédérik Lesage
Media Production’s New Challenge: Wrestling with the Emergence of Digital Evaluations on Creative Productions
Cecilia Suhr
The Social Newsroom: New Production Spaces @ Global News Agencies
Bronwyn Jones
Investigations of Global News Industries
Lecture Theatre 4 (Room G.14)
Chair: Chris Paterson
Re-constitution of the News in the Private Sphere When Journalists are Reconstructing the ‘Other’
Mehmet Ozan Aşık
Political functions of news reporters. Towards a typology of the political functions of Danish news reporters in the offrecord production space of politics
Camilla Dindler
Picturing the World’s News: News Photography, Cultural Production, Thomson Reuters and the International Process
of News Making
Jonathan Ilan
The Transformation of Media Production in Dual Institutions: An Institutional Analysis of Newspaper Reform in PostMao China
Mengqian Yuan and Chujie Chen
Professionalism in a Different Cultural Key: Who are “Journalists” in Japan?
Kaori Hayashi
School of Music, Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall Foyer
KEYNOTE 2: The News Industries and Production Research
School of Music, Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall
Dr. David Ryfe, University of Nevada
PARALLEL SESSIONS 2: method and theory
Field Theory / Grounded Theory
Lecture Theatre 2 (Room G.11)
Chair: David Lee
Grounded Theory as a meta-methodology: researching news selection criteria during unsettled events and
newsroom’s setting in time of concurrence and monopoly in the Swiss press agency (2002-2012)
Alexandra Herfroy-Mischler
Applying Grounded Theory Methodology on Media Production Studies
Astrid Gynnild
Ethnography in a new(s) field: Using Bourdieu to investigate media production at an international newswire bureau
Mel Bunce
Constructing fields in media and art production. Reflection on the limits and potentials of field analysis in production
Tore Slaatta
Lecture Theatre 3(Room G.12)
Chair: Roel Puijk
Investigating stancing – What process-oriented research can tell us about journalism
Daniel Perrin
Studying News Production: From Process to Meanings
Berkowitz, Daniel and Zhengjia Liu
“People tie themselves up in knots, write whole PhDs about this… Does it really f***ing matter, actually?”: NGO
communications producers’ relation to academic research(ers)
Shani Orgad and Bruna Seu
When You Can’t Rely on Public or Private: Designing a Strategy for Media Production Research Post-Leveson and PostSavile Scandal
Michael Munnik
Language and Organisational Context
Lecture Theatre 4 (Room G.14)
Chair: Anamik Saha
Comparing newsrooms
Lene Rimestad
A linguistic approach to journalism practice - on how to capture the intangible parts of the socialisation process
Gitte Gravengaard
Administrative Influences in Environmental News Production in China
Shasha Pei and Zhan Li
Benefits and challenges to an organizational ecology approach to media production: Case studies from the U.S. and
Wilson Lowrey and Elina Erzikova
In Search of the Origin of News Frames in Flemish Newspapers: How Interviews with Journalists Can Bridge the Gap
between News Texts and Production Contexts
Jan Boesman
CLOSING: Taking stock
School of Music, Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall
ICS Lecture Theatre G.12, Clothworkers North Building (tbc)
Critical Perspectives on Film and Transmedia Production in the Digital Age
Doris Baltruschat
Today, media production has been thrown into sharp relief by new forms of digital storytelling and rapidly changing
production and distribution technologies. Trans‐‐‐media content production, 3D image rendering on large IMAX
screens and pocketsize mobile devices, viral marketing campaigns, digital distribution via Internet‐‐‐downloads (e.g.
Netflix) and cloud computing, all represent new and emerging digital media ecologies in Canada and beyond. This
paper details how film and television producers are managing these changes through advancing media ecologies and
collaborations on projects that can be simultaneously distributed across platforms while engaging audiences through
interactive storytelling and participation in virtual and real‐‐‐life events. Thus, rather than heralding an end to film
and television ‘traditions’, recent developments have to be interpreted as an ‘expansion’ of the ‘viewing experience’—
through increased interactivity and greater ‘immersion’ in all encompassing story‐‐‐worlds, especially through 3D
entertainment. Based on a SSHRC‐‐‐funded study* that combined field research (especially in film, television and multi
media trade forums and conferences), interviews with producers and cultural policy surveys, this analysis highlights
how emerging digital media ecologies are re‐‐‐shaping and influencing production. The combination of research
methodologies within a multiperspectivist paradigm proved especially useful in gaining insight into how producers
conceptualize new projects and develop networks with creative talent across the media field. In particular, it revealed
the growing importance of the role of the transmedia producer with regards to controlling the flow of content across
platforms and enabling increased audience interactivity and participation. Thus, the paper explores questions of
innovation in production and distribution, in the form of digital media ecologies and research methodologies, at a
crucial moment of the global media industry in transition.
Studying News Production: From Process to Meanings
Daniel Berkowitz and Liu Zhengjia
Much of the research on news production has come from a sociological direction that examines the process of
production. Research has therefore tended to focus on interactions at the small group, organizational and institutional
levels. In turn, studying process mostly emphasizes the limitations and constraints on what might become the news
product. Methodologically, this vein of research has necessitated long-term study within production environments,
which poses two contemporary challenges. First, at least in the US, institutional human subjects review boards have
become significantly more demanding in the measures that need to be taken to assure both maximum privacy and
minimum risk for the people being studied. A second challenge is that increasing pressures for productivity toward
tenure and promotion make the time demands of long-term research unfeasible. In all, long-term on-site research has
become a difficult undertaking, most easily accomplished by either graduate students or by senior scholars who live
near appropriate research sites. For scholars wanting to study media production, yet are unable to clear these hurdles,
text-based culturally-oriented research can become a valuable tool, especially when informed by concepts gleaned
from on-site studies. An added advantage is that the emphasis on media texts can focus on questions about meanings
of journalism to journalists and meanings of journalism within its societal context. The proposed paper will first
discuss the paradigm implications of on-site, sociologically oriented research, along with the kinds of questions that
can best be studied through that methodology. The paper will then offer three conceptual dimensions – mythical
narratives, collective memory and ideographic labels – that can be effectively applied to the study of media texts in a
way that helps understand dimensions of media production as reproduction of cultural meanings.
In Search of the Origin of News Frames in Flemish Newspapers: How Interviews with Journalists Can Bridge
the Gap between News Texts and Production Contexts
Jan Boesman
This paper examines the selection and framing of domestic news in the Flemish press using a multilevel analysis.
Shoemaker and Reese’s hierarchical model of news influences is empirically tested through a combination of content
frame analysis and in-depth interviews with journalists. The study provides a bridge between studies of news texts
and studies of production contexts. The question of how frames arise is largely sidestepped in framing research.
Therefore framing research can learn from sociological news production studies. However, many of the classic news
ethnographies are criticized because of a narrow focus on routines and because they leave little room for the agency of
the individual journalist. My research looks at the journalist as an active agent as well as examines higher influences
than those of the individual journalist. This study collects material from four newsrooms, belonging to two different
media groups (Corelio, The Persgroep), each with a quality newspaper (De Standaard, De Morgen) and a popular
newspaper (Het Nieuwsblad, Het Laatste Nieuws). For a six-week period, the output of 20 journalists was content
analyzed. The journalists were selected with attention to a variation in editorial responsibility. Regularly semistructured interviews, supplemented by newsroom observations and logbook analysis, lead to a reconstruction of the
production of approximately 160 articles. This paper highlighted the difficulties of winning trust of journalists, who
suffered from much criticism from academicians, and interviewing them, a method they are so familiar with. It
explores that interviewing, although time-consuming, is a useful way to complement content analysis in framing
research. Such multi-method approach can help us to better understand the influences on the choice of topics and how
they are brought.
Ethnography in a new(s) field: Using Bourdieu to investigate media production at an international newswire
Mel Bunce
Media scholars have suggested that Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory can be used to ‘invigorate’ a second wave of
newsroom ethnography, as it helps researchers draw links between macro-level contexts, and the micro level
practices of journalists (Cottle 2003; Dickinson 2008; Benson 1998). To date, empirical studies of news practices that
draw on field theory have primarily been done in the context of domestic news production (eg. Benson & Neveu 2005;
Schultz 2007).This paper employs field theory to investigate the bureau of an international newswire – the Reuters
East African bureau in Nairobi. It explores the particular challenges raised by operationalizing research questions and
exploring journalistic practices in trans-national contexts, where factors that influence production emerge at the
global, national and local levels. The paper suggests an approach that starts by locating news organizations within a
‘global field’ of journalism; and it advocates research methods that provide a “360 degree” perspective on a bureau’s
practices.The paper draws on ethnographic and interview data that was collected across multiple sites including:
interviews in London with the Reuters African editor; two months of ethnographic data collection in the Reuters
Nairobi bureau (most notably, observing the daily morning news meeting; and individually interviewing all the
practicing FCs); as well as interviews with Reuters’ ‘stringers’ (casually contracted journalists) working in other East
African sites - Khartoum, Kampala and Kigali - who report to the Nairobi bureau. This case study illustrates field
theory’s benefits in engendering newsroom ethnography. Significantly, it shows how field theory, through its attention
to the ‘position’ of a news organization (and the cultural capital associated with different positions) is able to account
for, and help explain, changes in journalistic practice. The paper concludes with some suggestions for how field theory
can best be used in newsroom ethnography research methods, as well as considering a number of challenges inherent
to this approach.
Political functions of news reporters. Towards a typology of the political functions of Danish news reporters in
the off-record production space of politics
Camilla Dindler
This article will present a typology of the political functions the Danish political journalist may have for the
political actor in parliament in the off‐‐‐record production space of politics. The typology is based on the
assumption of a functional, action‐‐‐based interdependence between journalists and political actors. The empirical
data for this article are observation studies in the Danish Parliament and qualitative interviews with Danish
political journalists, political press advisors, and elected politicians from 2007 to 2010. The presented typology
distinguishes between two different phases of mutual off‐‐‐record action involving journalist and political actor
and in which the journalist may have a political function. These are the explorative
phase and the
implementing phase. This distinction is grounded in analysis of the empirical data. In the explorative phase of
production the journalist may facilitate or influence politics by his exchange of political intelligence and other
information with political actors. In the implementing phase of news production the journalist may orchestrate
politics by inviting the political actor to political action on‐‐‐ the‐‐‐record. The study explores and highlights off‐‐‐
record interaction between political journalists and their sources as a complex political and journalistic space,
which is characterized by both intentional and unintentional action. Besides presenting a typology of
interactions based on qualitative data, the article is also a contribution to the discussion of linkages between
backstage and front stage behaviour within the context of institutional theories of political communication,
especially news. Presentation of the article will discuss how observations of action may contribute to the
interpretation of more fundamental, institutional structures in news journalism that qualitative interviews,
survey data and content analysis cannot adequately address. At the same time, difficulties with access to this
highly politicized environment may call for at discussion of the relationship between journalism practitioners
and journalism researchers.
A linguistic approach to journalism practice - on how to capture the intangible parts of the socialisation
Gitte Gravengaard
In this paper, I discuss how researchers can analyse how craft ethos and professional vision are constructed and
maintained in a particular community of practice (Wenger, 1998) – the newsroom – applying an ethnographic,
linguistically sensitive approach to journalist trainees’ and editors’ talk-in-interaction. The analyses are based on
ethnographic observations in newsrooms at two national Danish daily newspapers, two national tabloids and the
two national tv-stations. Here we followed 12 journalist trainees for one year. Institutions and professions provide
boundaries between ways of knowing the same object as they cultivate and authorise certain knowledge practices
(Goodwin, 1994; Carr, 2010). How this is actually performed is the focus of this paper. The ability to see a meaningful
event (Goodwin, 1994), for instance to construct and present an idea for what will be conceptualised as ’a good news
story’ by the editor, is a socially situated activity accomplished through discursive practices. By looking at these
practices we can investigate how objects of knowledge (Goodwin, 1994) are socially constructed in the newsroom,
where news is talked into being (Ekström, 2007). Via situated learning and legitimate peripheral participation (Lave
& Wenger, 1991), journalist trainees learn the professional norms, and learn what constitutes ’a good news story’.
Traditionally, media scholars have described this socialisation process as diffuse, extremely informal (Preston,
2009), implicit (Breed, 1955) and thus difficult to trace (Sigelman, 1973). In order to understand the relation
between social structure and the everyday practice, I draw upon conversation analysis (Heritage, 1984; Schegloff,
1984, 1988, 1992) performing micro level analysis of everyday conversations in the newsroom. Applying CA, makes
it is possible to demonstrate how the craft ethos is discursively constructed and reproduced. The interactional
analyses also capture some of the intangible and blurred parts of the socialisation process, for instance by
demonstrating how corrections of culturally undesirable behaviour is performed
Applying Grounded Theory Methodology on Media Production Studies
Astrid Gynnild
The aim of this paper is to exemplify and discuss the applicability of grounded theory methodology in news
production research. Somewhat surprisingly, only a few grounded studies have been carried out within media
research, in spite of grounded theory’s potential capacity to fill knowledge gaps at the crossroads between the
industry and the research environment, between the quantitative and the qualitative, the concrete and the
conceptual, and between the present and the future-oriented. The method is, however, widespread across continents
in fields as diverse as business, medicine, information science, and sociology. Grounded theory is an inductive
methodology emerging from the social sciences through the seminal work of Glaser and Strauss, “The Discovery of
Grounded Theory” (1967). In grounded theory, qualitative as well as quantitative data are coded, analyzed and
conceptualized according to distinctive cyclic steps. The goal of the theorizing process is the generation of a set of
interrelated hypotheses, which together form a grounded theory. In this paper, I will discuss benefits and pitfalls of a
grounded theory approach to empirical data, exemplified through a newsroom production study that lasted for four
years and resulted in the grounded theory “Creative Cycling of News Professionals”. The theory was generated from
grounded theory all-is-data-approach; oral, written, and
observational data from multiple sources within and
outside of established newsrooms. The theory runs counter to contemporary ideas of news management and
suggests that the main concern of journalists is self-fulfillment
through original contribution. The dilemma and
resolution, creative cycling, is a basic social process that consists of three interrelated
dimensions: productive
processing, breaks and shifts, and
inspirational looping. Benefits of using the classic grounded theory approach
include the integration of multiple data sources, the deliberate search for layers of data, the motion from description
to abstract conceptualization and the flexibility to change aspects of a theory according to changes in the empirical
Professionalism in a Different Cultural Key: Who are “Journalists” in Japan?
Kaori Hayashi
Hallin and Mancini (2003) regard the degree of professionalization as one of the key variables to categorize different
national media systems. They measure the degree of professionalization according to three dimensions: autonomy,
professional norms, and public service orientation. Their implicit view is that professionalism is rooted in
individualized conducts and ideologies of actors (journalists). Our investigation with intensive interviews of 30
working journalists on their life course and career at television stations in Japan shows, however, that the source of
professionalism in Japanese journalism is rooted not in such individual skills or self-confidence, but in one’s
identification with the corporate organizational culture. We have also confirmed that most employees in the media
industry experience editorial works (reporting) as well as sales or marketing in the course of their career in the
company. Therefore, even though they engage with journalistic works that are similar to those in the Western
standards, they shunned to call themselves ‘journalist’, since it put forward highly purist, individual connotations,
invoking a fancy image associated with crack journalists portrayed in Hollywood films. And somebody who does
declare him/herself to be a ‘journalist’ in a coincidental social environment would generally be assumed to have
served, for example, as a war reporter in actual conflict areas or as an muckraking investigative journalist. It is this
solitary, usually freelance kind of dangerous and courageous work that people would associate with the term
‘journalist’. The word ‘journalist’ in Japan thus results in psychological distancing or acute hesitance in the world of
ordinary practitioners of the trade. Out of these observations, I draw a conclusion that the conventional Western
concept of ‘professionalization’ fails to capture decisive aspects of the cohesive employment/occupational system in
the Japanese reality, and cross-national comparative studies on media production should be accordingly conducted
with caution.
Grounded Theory as a meta-methodology: researching news selection criteria during unsettled events and
newsroom’s setting in time of concurrence and monopoly in the Swiss press agency (2002-2012)
Alexandra Herfroy-Mischler
The proposed article discusses methodological challenges and rewards whilst conducting a long term research within
the national Swiss Press Agency’s production environment in Bern from 2002 until 2012. Initially aiming to explore
how a national media covers its own identity crisis regarding Switzerland’s economic role during WWII and the
Holocaust Heirless assets stored in the Swiss banks affair (1995-2002); the researcher interrogates the Grounded
Theory’s benefits and limits as a meta-methodological approach. To answer these questions, a wide range of
anthropological and sociological methodologies of long term exposure to production cultures have been used such as:
1-a complete participant (2002), 2-participant-observer (in 2003 and 2004) and 3-complete observer (2012). In
parallel were conducted 1- informal and semi-structured interviews (2005 and 2012), 2-quantitative and qualitative
content analysis of the 6640 news items produced on the researched topic via the press agency’s database (2003,
2004, 2005 and 2012) and 3- anthropological observation of the press agency’s archivist role during the HolocaustEra Heirless assets story up until the day of his retirement in 2012. The paper focuses on two elements that illustrate
how Grounded Theory can be considered as a precious meta-methodology toward the advancement of production
research. First of all, exclusive professional data concerning news selection and news production criteria in time of
latency (known also as ‘non-closure’) have been gathered and analysed both from a decision maker perspective (via
official news agency strategic and content decisions) and from a bottom-up perspective (from the journalist to the
head of redaction during the daily redaction meetings).Second of all, exclusive data were gathered commenting the
news room’s setting changes caused by the internet’s increasing importance, “ready to be published” visual data, and
tweeter before and after the monopoly of the national Swiss press agency due to the closure of the Associated Press’s
desks in Switzerland in the year 2010.
Picturing the World’s News: News Photography, Cultural Production, Thomson Reuters and the International
Process of News Making
Jonathan Ilan
In this research the production process of news pictures at Thomson Reuters international multimedia news agency
was examined along its ‘local’ and ‘international’ key moments and sites, and the career of Reuters photographs –
from the moment they are conceived as ideas to their purchase – was followed. The way they were used, chosen, sold
and processed as Reuters products was explored at every stage. Based on an extensive fieldwork that included
participant observation in the field, the Jerusalem bureau and the global pictures desk in Israel, Singapore and the UK,
in-depth interviews with significant Reuters pictures professionals and observations conducted at the Guardian’s
pictures desk in London, the findings in this project pointed to a wide cultural production infrastructure hidden from
– and yet also nurtured by – the consumer's eye. From the camera's lens to the daily work of the photographer, the
editor, the producer, the chief of the department, administrators, graphic designers, sales and marketing, the
international news agency, the different news outlets, different media and other institutions and their audiences, who
are all responsible for the representation of one reality and the production of another. Focusing an ethnographic eye
on production processes of news pictures at Thomson Reuters, and drawing from cultural studies and approaches of
the political economy of communication, this was an attempt to uncover what news is in its photographic form, and
the ways that such unique process of production illustrates the overall production of newsworthiness.
The Social Newsroom: New Production Spaces @ Global News Agencies
Bronwyn Jones
News production practices at traditional news organisations are evolving and social media have become increasingly
important in newsgathering, verification and distribution as well as in news organisations’ public relations activities.
Academic research has for some time turned its focus to analysing the ways in which digitally-networked
technologies, like social media, have become widely used by journalists to interact with the public, other practitioners
and newsmakers, however long term empirical work into their role in news production is scant, as is conceptual and
theoretical development in this area. This paper contributes to addressing this gap, drawing from interviews and
observation conducted intermittently over a two-year period in three global news agencies - Reuters, Associated Press
(AP) and Agence France Press (AFP). It combines this data with analysis of news agency journalists’ social network
activity and organisational guidelines to explain emerging social media practices and routines whilst suggesting that
conceptualising social media as spaces of news production can fruitfully broaden the gaze of media production
research. The research finds that in a break from their traditional behind-the-scenes role, global news agencies have
developed a strong presence on the leading social networks - Twitter and Facebook. Using these communication
technologies, agency journalists are gathering, verifying and distributing news and information, including usergenerated content as well as interacting with users outside of the news production process. This is blurring the
boundaries of professional practice as the mobile, and ‘ambient’ and affordances of social media (Hermida 2010)
extend the newsroom into new communicative spaces. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for
production researchers and news agency researchers alike; they must now grapple with the unfamiliar ‘social
newsroom’ but can now access an unprecedented publicly available archive of journalistic activity.
Good fences make good audiences (and frustrated researchers): Obstacles and strategies in television
production research
Oranit Klein-Shagrir
Television industries face many challenges in a rapidly changing media environment. Recently we have witnessed a
renewed interest in television production research. However, studying television production can be an exigent
endeavor and even more tricky in an environment of economical and cultural uncertainty
The Israeli television industry is small, competitive, and eager to adopt global television formats but it is struggling
with severe economic hardships. It is commonly described as an "industry on steroids", reflecting its constant change
and restlessness; therefore it presents a rigorous although a fascinating challenge to media researchers. Following an
extensive research on Israeli commercial broadcast channels, I report on the many obstacles I encountered on the one
hand and the opportunities presented before me on the other. I discuss various issues such as accessibility, industry
workers' reflexivity and public relations smoke screens. I also describe the difficulty of tracking and understanding an
industry in a state of continuous uncertainty and transformation. Furthermore, I highlight an inherent paradox in
contemporary television today: while television's rhetoric highlights viewers' participation and production's
transparency, television industry builds real and legal fences such as confidentiality agreements thus closes itself to
outside observation. Concealment of production process is the result of fierce competition, global television formats'
requirements and also television's ambition to produce illusions of "reality" for its audiences. Finally I share some of
the strategies I adopted and implemented in the course of my research. Conducting television production study can be
a trying and frustrating experience, nevertheless in times cultural, technological and economical challenges it provides
invaluable insights into an industry "on the move".
Cultural biographies of application software
Frédérik Lesage
While application software has played a significant role in many processes of cultural production for over a quarter
century, there remains little research on the long‐‐‐term relationships that have developed between this type of
software and the cultural practitioners who use it as part of their work. Such an oversight in research in media
production can arguably be attributed to how many researchers conceptualize application software as part of an
exogenous force brought on by technological change rather than as an integral material and symbolic component of
cultural production: the transformations brought about by the introduction of new software applications (or
upgrades) are investigated while lasting relationships are overlooked. In this presentation, I examine how
biographical methods taken from anthropological research have been used for the study of media by the likes of Roger
Silverstone and how these methods can be usefully adapted to the study of application software. After introducing
Igor Kopytoff’s concept of the cultural biography of things, I discuss how scholars have applied this concept to the
study of the domestication of media technologies in everyday life. I argue that such research deploys a useful set of
conceptual and methodological tools for the study of the ‘careers’ of application software for the production of culture.
I will demonstrate how such career trajectories represent fertile ground for further ethnographic research by
outlining a research project involving participant observation of training courses for application software.
Benefits and challenges to an organizational ecology approach to media production: Case studies from the U.S.
and Russia
Wilson Lowrey and Elina Erzikova
The conference description asks if production research should shift toward higher-order levels of analysis, such as
community ecosystems. This paper describes advantages and challenges to the study of news media at a “community”
level, via an “organization ecology” approach. According to this institutional, supply-side approach, media outlets
reposition in relation to other media, both within the same geographical community and beyond it (e.g., similar media
types within the same “population”). An ecological context allows study of relationships across media outlets,
increasingly important in part because of digital social networks and the “scopic” view of other media afforded by the
Internet (see Boczkowski). Relationships across media may be mimetic, “genetic,” competitive and collaborative, and
pursuit of professional and public legitimacy is as important as pursuit of resources. Our paper is informed by two
sets of studies of a wide range of news media in two cities in the U.S. and two in Russia. Mimicry of practices was
common in all cities, and in the U.S. there was some evidence of budding media “populations” – i.e., emerging
collectives of similar media types. Russian media mimicry reflected state influence, though cross-pollination in the
labor market also fostered sameness – we observed the same journalists rotating among four news newspapers,
surreptitiously swapping stories. We also observed “genetic” relationships across media, with new ventures started by
previous employees of other community news outlets; routines transplanted from the parent company continued to
shape practices in the “offspring.” Challenges unique to this type of research were also encountered. Defining
sampling boundaries is difficult. We also had to take care not to share information across competing outlets – difficult
because information learned at one outlet informs questions at others. By necessity, interviews and observation are
relatively brief. Numerous on-site visits and travel through communities offered a context we could not have been
achieved otherwise; however, depth of analysis at individual operations is curtailed.
When You Can’t Rely on Public or Private: Designing a Strategy for Media Production Research Post-Leveson
and Post-Savile Scandal
Michael Munnik
This paper proposes methods for conducting production enquiry at a strained time in the UK media sphere. The
Leveson Report will have an impact on the openness of media institutions and could lead to greater transparency
among private organisations as an outcome. I will argue from experience, however, that in the UK an even more recent
series of events at the BBC concerning the Jimmy Savile scandal risks closing the slightly more open door of public
organisations. As Paterson and Zoellner have written (2010), no media organization supports “accountability and
transparency” to the extent that participation in such research is “automatic.” Empirical data for this paper is based on
my current ethnographic research project in Glasgow, in which I employ three strategies to overcome the difficulty of
relying on an ideal of access and disclosure. My project is multi-site: rather than focus on one newsroom, I study
Glasgow as a connected media environment, and the various journalists and editors are workers in the same
environment, albeit for different institutions and with different priorities. My project encompasses sources as well as
journalists: following Schlesinger (1990) and Ericson et al. (1989), I include the voices and activity of those who
interact with journalists in the production of media content. I also incorporate my ethnographic self as a resource
(Collins and Gallinat 2010): just as my years working as a broadcast journalist inspired my project, so that experience
informs the ongoing work – not merely as a lever to aid access or facilitate data collection, but as data itself to analyse
and as a conceptual check during my analysis. I argue that although these elements have featured in some research
projects, given the current climate post-Savile and McAlpine, they may become vital to deliver substantial material for
the ongoing study of media production.
Why women leave media production
Anne O’Brien
The challenge of social theorizing about gender and media production is a substantive but also a methodological one.
Through examinations of the political economy of media production and the labour process that underpins it,
production studies have revealed that the gender gap is about who gets selected for work and the nature of the work
that they are employed to undertake. However, another relatively under-researched aspect of women’s media work is
the question of the sustainability of women’s careers in media industries. In examining this issue the researcher faced
a much-acknowledged problem of access to media elites. Accessing women as a sub-population of elites raised further
challenges. This difficulty was addressed by the author through using ‘insider’ status, as a female television
documentary producer, to gain access to a population that may otherwise have been reticent about revealing the
challenges they faced. As a female producer-scholar with intimate knowledge of production practices and of industry
structures, respondents became confident that a shared-understanding model of data gathering would be achieved.
The findings were based on data collected through semi-structured interviews with a purposive, snowball sample of
17 women who had worked successfully in industry for more than seven years but who finally left media jobs. This
sample was collated initially through preliminary interviews with informants who were personal contacts. On that
basis topics and questions emerged and other potential respondents were named and these avenues were
subsequently pursued. The main findings of the study are that women leave media work because of a combination of
the gendered nature of work cultures, the informalisation of the sector and structural restrictions placed on women’s
agency to participate in networks, which create impossible binds for many female media workers forcing them to
“People tie themselves up in knots, write whole PhDs about this… Does it really f***ing matter, actually?”: NGO
communications producers’ relation to academic research(ers)
Shani Orgad and Bruna Seu
This paper explores how NGO communications producers regard, engage, use, challenge and reject academic research
in their practice. It draws on in-depth interviews with 17 practitioners from 10 UK-based international development
and humanitarian NGOs, responsible for planning, production and dissemination of communications, and on
participation in various industry meetings and an Action Research meeting. Our study revealed practitioners who
engage in continuous self-critique/analysis of their production practices. Inspired by Caldwell’s (2008) account of
media producers’ self-theorizing, the paper seeks to advance understanding of producers’ processes of sense making,
and their complex, ambivalent and often contradictory relation to academic research/ers. We show that the narratives
producers employ in relation to academic scholarship function as significant organizational, cultural and ethical
expressions. There seems to be a division between practitioners and organizations with a clear intellectual push that
use and embrace academic research, and the more anti-intellectual action-focused ones, that emphasize a strong
instrumental and ‘hands-on’ orientation and are often dismissive of academic research. We argue that these
frequently emotionally-charged self/other positionings are used to establish authority, authenticity, advantage, moral
standing, and a sense collective identity, vis-a-vis their explicit object of academic research/ers, and more significantly,
vis-a-vis their own organizations, other NGOs, and the humanitarian field. We suggest that these responses to
academic research, of rejecting or embracing scholarship, casting academics as ‘outgroups’ or ‘allies’ might function to
sustain a sense of cohesive and united community in an increasingly competitive field that attracts criticism, public
scrutiny and distrust. We conclude by considering some methodological implications of studying producers’ relations
to academic research and researchers, and the challenges these highly-charged practitioner-research/er relationships
present for scholars studying production.
Re-constitution of the News in the Private Sphere When Journalists are Reconstructing the ‘Other’
Mehmet Ozan Aşık
This paper explores how the changing generative character of the power struggle between the state and the news
media transforms journalistic norms by investigating television journalists’ perception of ‘the other’ in news
production. The semi-authoritarian and interventionist ruling practices of the current Turkish government challenge
the opposition by polarizing the public sphere between ‘anti-state’ and ‘pro-state’ groups. One can understand this
polarization as corresponding to the positions of ‘our media’ and ‘the other media.’ Within this context, I conducted
nine-month ethnographic fieldwork in the newsrooms of three Turkish national television stations between April
2011 and May 2012 for my PhD study, in which I intend to answer this research question: How do journalists’
remembering and representing practices of Turkey’s two national ‘others’ – Kurds and Arabs – affect news production
in the national television broadcasting of Turkey? After it came to power in 2002, the current single ruling party
initiated opening policies towards the Kurdish people in Turkey and the Arab societies. This rapprochement to rebuild economic and political ties between the societies has generated new possibilities in the remembering and
representing practices of Kurds and Arabs. However, the polarization and repression of the public sphere has
engendered two outcomes: the ways journalists negotiate these possibilities turn out to be major political survival
strategies, and these strategies become based on a moral order rather than a professional consensus in different
newsroom cultures. I argue that the contesting ways of negotiating the previously ‘otherized’ two identities actually
display a moral contestation in news production. Given that a moral order is presumed to provide professional
legitimacy and authority in the conduit of political survival strategies, in what ways journalists engage with this moral
contestation not only redraws the boundaries between Turkish, Kurdish and Arab identities but also re-constitutes
the normative structure of journalism.
Administrative Influences in Environmental News Production in China.
Shasha Pei and Zhan Li
The importance of environmental problems in social life has been increasingly prominent in the past two decades in
China, yet environmental news in Chinese media is very small in proportion and often not covering negative
environmental problems. The aim of this study is to understand the nature of environmental news in Chinese media
systematically by a content analysis and to detect the influencing factors in the production of environmental news by
ethnographic methods. A content analysis of environmental news published by one of China’s leading national
newspapers between 2003 and 2008 revealed that environmental news was more of a display of “administrative”
achievements than reporting ongoing environmental problems. About 68% of the coverage was to report the
government’s environmental policies, actions and achievements; 27% of the coverage was to introduce environmental
science knowledge; and about 5% of the coverage was to report ongoing environmental problems such as pollution
and policy disputes. Then one of the authors conducted participant observation and in-depth interviews of reporters
and editors in the paper’s environmental newsroom for half a year as an intern reporter. The ethnographic
investigations revealed that the dominant factor that affected environmental news production is the government’s
control of the news media. Government policies and actions on environmental problems had direct and obvious
influence in media text presentation through organizational means; the routine of environmental news production
had constructed a way of avoiding conflicting frames; journalists coped with administrative pressure by insisting on
journalistic professionalism, but personal factors had almost none influence in environmental news production.
Investigating stancing – What process-oriented research can tell us about journalism
Daniel Perrin
What product-oriented approaches conceptualize as journalistic stance in news items, is, from a process perspective,
the result of newswriting: a complex and emergent interplay of situated production, reproduction, and
recontextualization activities (Catenaccio, et al., 2011; Van Hout, 2011; Perrin, 2013) with individuals’
psychobiographies, social settings such as newsrooms and the “ecosystems” (Anderson 2010) beyond, and contextual
resources such as “glocalization” (Khondker, 2004). In my presentation, I address stancing from such a process
perspective and discuss the value that process-oriented methodologies can add to production research in
journalism.The presentation is empirically grounded. Over the past two decades, my research team has been involved
in large transdisciplinary research projects investigating journalists’ text production processes. Data were collected
and analyzed with progression analysis, an ethnographically-based multimethod approach (e.g. Perrin, 2003). The aim
of all of these projects has been to identify individual and organizational workplace practices and strategies in
newsrooms. The multilingual, multicultural design of the projects and the data corpora generated allow for
comparative analyses across languages and newsroom cultures. I begin my presentation by defining stancing as the
practice of taking and encoding a particular position through semiotic means – and the absence thereof (part 1). Then,
I explain how knowledge gained from related research can be applied to address stancing in the context of routines on
the one hand and emergence on the other (part 2); describe our multimethod approach, progression analysis (part 3);
and present exemplary findings from German- and French-speaking contexts (part 4). Finally, I discuss how insights
from this research can be generalized and can contribute to increasing scientific and professional (meta-) linguistic
knowledge and awareness related to journalistic production in general and stance in particular (part 5).
Limits to change – organisational constraints on innovation
Roel Puijk
This paper revisits empirical data from the 1980s when the monopoly of the Norwegian public service broadcaster
was about to fall. Management was worrying about the future of the organisation and prepared to meet the
competition that was to come. The Factual Department in particular felt threatened not only by external competitors
to come, but they also feared that they would be squeezed between the Entertainment Department and the News
Department.The author followed program production in the Factual Department during one year and observed not
only how program concepts were developed, but also how they were moulded on their way through the bureaucratic
planning, financing and realisation processes. Following the production process of the main program of the Factual
Department (with the revealing working title ‘Flagship’) from its conception to its realisation as a weekly program
broadcast in prime time every Thursday, reveals the way innovation at the time was restricted by organisational
arrangements, internal values and external pressures. The program makers included many elements that also today
are considered as advantageous in factual programming (humour, dramatization, popularisation, serialisation,
interactivity). Along the way several of these were changed: what started as a proposal for a documentary series,
turned out to be predominantly a discussion program.In the paper argues that long term observation of internal
processes and in particular concrete production processes over time provides important information of how media
organisations function. It contributes to describe organisations as composed of different parts and individuals with
divergent norms, values and cultures and attributes change and opposition to change to specific points. This kind of
insight cannot be attained through textual analysis – even though the results of these processes course also are visible
often not only in the programs in question, but often in other programs as well.
Formats and the changing practices of television producers
Anthony Quinn
The format model of television production is increasingly prevalent. Local versions of formats such as Homeland, The
Killing, Ugly Betty, Strictly Come Dancing, Big Brother, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and The Apprentice are now a
common feature of television schedules worldwide. These formats are adapted by television producers to meet local
demands such as regional languages and cultural idiosyncrasies. They consist of the production elements and ‘knowhow’ for programmes that can be formally licensed internationally between production companies, distributors and
broadcasters. The use of formats as templates for making television programmes is not a new phenomenon and can be
traced back to 1953. However, the number of formats being adapted has increased greatly in recent years. They are
now a central commodity form of what Enzensberger calls the 'consciousness industry'. Some 259 formats were
locally adapted between 2002 to 2004 and this rose to 445 between 2006 to 2008, according to the Formats Rights
Protection Association (FRAPA). Most emanate from a few countries: the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA.
A few come from countries that have not traditionally been players in the international television trade. One prevalent
argument put forward by scholars is that formats may be eroding the research and development capabilities of local
television industries and that their adoption by broadcasters is deskilling producers. Another argument is that
formats are used as a tool with which to lower production costs. Yet the creation and production of television formats
also offers enormous possibilities, financial rewards and potential industry recognition for producers.
central issue in this paper is that the widespread use of formats appears to be affecting the autonomy of television
producers. As formats have proliferated on screens around the world, television labour processes have changed.
Programmes are being made in a different way. This paper investigates the changing labour processes of television
production and the possible ramifications of these new conditions on the diversity of ideas in circulation on television.
At a theoretical level, this paper expands Pierre Bourdieu's conceptualisation of cultural fields. Based on empirical
work with television producers in Ireland, this production research brings into focus some of the professional and
public consequences of the format model..
Comparing newsrooms
Lene Rimestad
How important organisational culture and local factors can be has recently been highlighted by the British Leveson
Inquiry and Report. This paper argues for and explains how microanalysis of interactions in media newsrooms can
provide a unique opportunity for comparative research and insights into intra- and interorganisational variations.
Talk is tied to the local setting of the interaction, but is also embedded in organisational structures, and by analysing
videotaped morning meetings from two media organisations and at several different newsdesks, using conversation
analysis and an inductive approach, it is possible to compare how meaning gets constructed in the interactions
between participants, and how intrapersonal settings and other local variables influence the interactions
substantially. As Hallin and Mancini have pointed out: “...the differences in how journalists actually do their work are
larger than the differences in their survey responses...” (Hallin and Mancini, 2004: 303). A microanalytical approach to
studying talk-in-interaction within media organisation makes it possible to discuss variations in e.g. decisionmaking
processes, ways of giving and receiving feedback, ideation practices and the ways in which readers and sources are
discursively constructed. Furthermore it is provides insights into to what degree practices and professional norms
might not correspond with professional orientations aired through surveys.The advantages of videotaping and other
ways of electronically monitoring the naturally occurring interaction without the presence of the researcher are many,
as the interactions are available for others and can be seen repeatedly. This provides a basis for thorough analysis. On
the negative side, cameras might influence the interactions, but generally the participants tend to forget the presence
of the cameras after a while.The challenges are mainly getting access and limitations of how the data is to be
presented to others, as anonymization of course will be an issue to be dealt with.
Constructing fields in media and art production. Reflection on the limits and potentials of field analysis in
production research
Tore Slaatta
Support and criticism of Bourdieu's field analytical approach is a constant ebb and flow in international research
journals and publicatiions, reflecting at the one hand how the theoretical basis of field analysis remains a reservoir of
important perspectives and fundamental ideas, and at the other how its epistemological and methodological
principles are seen as problematic or unrealistic in contemporary research on cultural production. There is for
instance disagreement about it's methodological effectivness and ability to grasp or encompass contemporary
changes and challenges in the fields of cultural production, and also about how it should be understood against more
institutional perspectives and more recent challenges from ANT and grounded, etnhographic approaches. Against the
backdrop of recent discussions, the paper reflects on challenges and problems concerning field theory and field
analysis as they appeared in two empirical research projects I am, or have been involved with: a research project on
journalism and media power in Norway (1999 - 2003), and an ongoing research project on art production and power
(2012 - 2015).
Media Production’s New Challenge: Wrestling with the Emergence of Digital Evaluations on Creative
Cecilia Suhr
Since the rise of the social media, digital evaluations, such as rating, ranking, liking, voting, and commenting, have
become part of the everyday fabric of web activities. In this context, how do such evaluations impact cultural and
media productions, in particular those pertaining to the creative and artistic fields? What are the implications? For
instance, in music communities, many commenting and rating activities are almost a staple to the generation of
interest in music productions. Besides music, other cultural producers in creative industries, such as film,
photography, theater, gaming, television, art, screenwriting, and fashion, are also dealing with the growth in the
unique blend of amateur and professional criticism. This phenomenon has been examined through the collaborative
efforts of the working group called “Digital Evaluation of Creativity,” funded by the Digital Media and Learning and the
MacArthur foundations. As a part of the initiative to study digital evaluations, this paper seeks to shed some light on
the current challenges related to contemporary media production. In addition to surveying the new media's landscape
of emerging evaluations, characteristics symptomatic of digital evaluations are noted in relation to: 1) advancement of
technology; 2) social networking; 3) power/politics; 4) aesthetic tastes and subjectivity; and 5) learning. This paper
argues that emerging digital evaluation practices are shaping the new ways in which cultural products are created. In
doing so, digital evaluations tap into newly emerging aesthetic tastes and standards created by the forces/influences
within the social, economic, technological, and cultural nexus. Finally, the paper explores how interactive learning
opportunities can occur not only among those involved who in evaluations but also between those who are decisionsmakers, leaders, and producers of the culture industry.
The Transformation of Media Production in Dual Institutions: An Institutional Analysis of Newspaper Reform
in Post-Mao China
Mengqian Yuan and Chujie Chen
Despite a great deal of literature on media production research, from perspectives such as political economy of
media, sociology of news, and cultural studies, relatively few studies have drawn on institutional theory to shed light
on continuity and changes in media production. This paper draws insights from the theories of historical
institutionalism, organizational institutionalism and news sociology to understand the transformation of media
production in Post-Mao China. Concepts such as critical junctures, path dependence, organizational norms (or
logic of appropriateness), and cultural frames were used for analyzing media institutions. By archival research,
participant observation and in-depth interviews, this paper examines how the traditional socialist party
newspaper paradigm and the emergent marketized newspaper paradigm co-exist under China’s tight media
censorship, with different norms and logics for news operation. The transformation of media production in
Post-Mao China is significantly driven by “dual institutions” of the party-state and the market, which leads to an
uncoordinated media reform. Through the strategic division of labor among new organizations within media
conglomerates, the parent newspapers continue to play the role of the party’s “mouthpiece”, while the subsidiary
newspapers constantly bargain with the party to strike a balance between the political survival and their
professional ideals, along with negotiations and contradictions. It is argued that the party-state and the journalists
play a cat-and- mouse game in the media production influenced by both institutional constraints and institutional
innovations. On the one hand, the party-state continuously develops multilayered strategies to control media
contents and monitor journalists’ activities; on the other hand, journalists and their organization also employ
explicit and implicit tactics to exert journalistic autonomy and push the boundary. S uch tactics are deeply
embedded in the existing economic, political and cultural institutions, shaping the dynamics of forming a new
journalistic ecosystem.