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How News Agencies Produce News

Barbara Czarniawska

Have you ever wondered how organizations decide which news is important? This insightful book portrays in detail everyday work in three news agencies: Swedish TT, Italian ANSA and the worldwide Reuters. This unique study is about organizing rather than journalism, revealing two accelerating phenomena: cybernization (machines play a more and more central role in news production) and cyborgization (people rely more and more on machines). Barbara Czarniawska reveals that technological developments lead to many unexpected consequences and complications.
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Chapter 1: The Places Where Information Overflows

Barbara Czarniawska


Where does news come from? The answer, much of the time, is from newswires. Many of the stories in newspapers, on television, radio and online are based on dispatches filed by the big news agencies. The Economist, 12 February 2009 The idea of studying news agencies was born during a study of management in the city of Rome (Czarniawska, 2002). As part of my fieldwork, I received for my perusal an enormous collection of press cuttings concerning City Utility – a company I was studying at the time when it was at the center of media attention. I also received an almost equally large collection of faxes sent by City Utility to the Italian news agency ANSA. A simple calculation revealed that Rome’s city administration had at least 30 departments and utilities, each with its own press office, and that they were likely sending the same type of faxes to ANSA. Add to this the rest of Rome (trade unions, companies, politicians, voluntary organizations), and – why not? – the rest of Italy and the world. How did ANSA select “news” from such an overflow? The journalists in the Italian press and the visual media pay more attention to certain events than to others, but it is ANSA that makes the first selection. How did it manage to process those avalanches of information? MANAGING OVERFLOW It turned out that several other scholars were asking themselves the same question, albeit in different contexts. We joined forces in a larger, ongoing program called “Managing Overflow...

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