Enthusiasm and Alienation: How Implementing Automated Journalism Affects the Work Meaningfulness of Three Newsroom Groups

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Abstract

#machinelearning #automation #newsrooms

Automated journalism is currently being implemented in newsrooms all over the world. This ethnographic case study of two Norwegian newsrooms explores how different newsroom groups relate to the innovation. Finding that editors and developers tend to applaud the possibilities of machine-written news while reporters are more critical, this study applies the concept of work meaningfulness to better understand the divergent reactions. The results show that key aspects making work meaningful—such as skill variety, self-development, autonomy, and sense of purpose—are influenced in severely different ways among the groups. As the investment in automated journalism has led to fewer editorial resources, reporters have experienced less room for in-depth reporting, few opportunities for extending skills, and little self-government. They also state that classical journalistic knowledge is no longer celebrated, while technical competence is perceived as essential. In contrast, the work meaningfulness of most editors and developers has increased. The paper concludes that all three newsroom groups hold a strong secular calling toward their work. It is therefore crucial that editors and media leaders acknowledge different groups’ work-related beliefs and purposes when implementing new technology. If not, the result can be a dramatic loss of work meaningfulness.

Type of Publication
articles-and-papers
Theme
journalism
Publishing
Journalism Practice
Publishing Date
2023
Language
english
Status
open-access
DOI
10.1080/17512786.2023.2190149
Authors
Gunhild Ring Olsen