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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 6: How News is Produced

Barbara Czarniawska


In this chapter I summarize my findings, revealing a picture of a complex action net extending far beyond the news agencies. It is not news that news production is circular, but circuits described in earlier studies were limited to human links (see, e.g, Gans, 1979/2004). The need to manage the overflow of information at the input and output requires more collaboration from non-human producers – thus, the ongoing cybernization and cyborgization of the process. The contribution of the non-humans, especially unintended contribution, deserves more scrutiny than it receives in media studies. DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES AMONG THE THREE AGENCIES The mechanisms of production are similar in all three agencies. The difference is in size – the size of the “factory” and the range of its products. How can one tell the difference among these three agencies, I wondered? The way of functioning is the same, because it’s exactly the specificity of news agencies that they work in a certain way. You can tell the difference among the agencies by looking at the way they lay out their news. The agencies need to communicate with their clients, and therefore introduce a layout that’s useful to their clients. This is the way each agency tries to raise its own flag. (Int. 4/2) TT has economic news under “Economy”, for instance, which is the traditional part of Swedish newspapers. Reuters, with clients outside the newspaper world, has three internal units covering economic issues: Treasury, Commodities & Energy, and Corporate. This organization evolved partly because of the volume...

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