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Frankenstein journalism

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Confronted with circumstances altered by the Internet, professional working practices have the option to change or to stay the same. This paper looks at how newsworkers in the new form of digital newsrooms have adapted the old location- or topic-based ‘beat’ system; now that they are called upon to curate or aggregate news stories which arrive fully formed from legacy news websites or emerge from social media. Stories like these are often valued for their virality – that is, how far and fast they have already spread – and their power to attract clicks from readers. Today, a growing number of news websites aggregate or curate such stories as part of their own news offerings. Yet curating these stories bring challenges to journalists’ identities and work practices, which demands a response. Based on an ethnographic study of eight digital newsrooms, we report how newsworkers use journalistic rituals to legitimise these second-hand stories flowing into the newsroom. We observed the use of rituals of objectivity, multiple sourcing and comparison with other news outlets as mechanisms that newsworkers used to validate and justify their use of second-hand content.
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Keywords: Ritual; aggregation; gatekeeping; gatewatching; journalism; newsroom

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore

Publication date: October 3, 2018

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