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News at Work

Imitation in an Age of Information Abundance

News at Work

Imitation in an Age of Information Abundance

Before news organizations began putting their content online, people got the news in print or on TV and almost always outside of the workplace. But nowadays, most of us keep an eye on the headlines from our desks at work, and we have become accustomed to instant access to a growing supply of constantly updated stories on the Web. This change in the amount of news available as well as how we consume it has been coupled with an unexpected development in editorial labor: rival news organizations can now keep tabs on the competition and imitate them, resulting in a decrease in the diversity of the news. Peeking inside the newsrooms where journalists create stories and the work settings where the public reads them, Pablo J. Boczkowski reveals why journalists contribute to the growing similarity of news—even though they dislike it—and why consumers acquiesce to a media system they find increasingly dissatisfying.

Comparing and contrasting two newspapers in Buenos Aires with similar developments in the United States, News at Work offers an enlightening perspective on living in a world with more information but less news.


News at Work is a brilliantly creative and much anticipated study of the new world of news. Boczkowski takes us on a far-ranging exploration—from the newsroom to the business office, the reporter’s cubicle to the reader’s desktop—on which we get a panoramic view of the links between the production, distribution, and consumption of digital media. Discovering that both online news companies and, increasingly, print papers emulate each other, he takes a close look at the dynamics of imitation, explicating the imitative life cycle through rich accounts of news production, use of technology, and news consumption. Boczkowski already has a reputation for rigorous scholarship; this book is better than anything he has published to date.”

Eric Klinenberg, New York University

“In a world of increasing abundance of information and increasing imitation, Pablo Boczkowski offers something different—a novel, parsimonious explanation for why news stories often look the same across many outlets. Using qualitative and quantitative analysis of the workplace worlds of both journalists and readers, he convincingly describes how the Internet can turn breaking news into a homogenized commodity.”

James Hamilton, Duke University

News at Work is a vivid, inside look at the collision of print journalism and electronic media. Based on close access to the leading news organizations in Buenos Aires, Boczkowski documents how contemporary journalism is caught in the grip of emulation; this spiral of imitation exacerbated further by global news media and their intensifying homogenization. The portrait of this transformation of the news is both fascinating and deeply worrying, and is guaranteed to provoke debate.”

Walter W. Powell, Stanford University

"News at Work constitutes an exceptionally ambitious study into different dimensions of news, analyzing its priduction processes, the content created, and the consumption patterns. . . . [this] is a rigorous exploration on the dynamics at play between the production, distribution, and use of digital media. . . . [that] enriches scholarship on contemporary news work, and is worth reading for both scholars and practitioners of media management."

Oscar Westlund | International Journal on Media Management

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Introduction: When More Becomes Less 

1: Studying Imitation in the South
2: The Divergent Logics of Hard- and Soft-News Production
3: Monitoring and Imitation in News Production
4: The Homogenization of News Products
5: The Consumption of Online News at Work
6: The Consumption of Increasingly Less Diverse News Content
7: The Work of News in an Age of Information Abundance

Appendix A: Research Design
Appendix B: Supplementary Studies

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