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Title: Clicks or Pulitzers? Web Journalists and Their Work in the United States and France
Authors: Christin, Angele
Advisors: Lane Scheppele, Kim
Weber, Florence
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: Etats-Unis
Subjects: Sociology
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This study examines the process of quantification taking place in web journalism. The internet is transforming journalism in many ways. Yet one of the most fundamental differences between print and online news is the multiplication of internet metrics: web journalists now receive a constant stream of quantitative information about the online popularity of their work. Does quantification always foster standardization? This dissertation argues instead that metrics take on radically different meanings when they travel between countries. Focusing on the case of online news, I compare the reception of web analytics in two countries, the United States and France, which have different journalistic traditions and relations to market forces. Drawing on ethnographic analysis of a pair of news websites in the United States and France, as well as additional qualitative and quantitative material, I find that web journalists in both countries are faced with conflicting definitions of journalistic value. Traditional "editorial" evaluation based on original reporting and peer judgment is at odds with "click-based" evaluation, which focuses on the number of page views. In spite of these commonalities, American and French journalists manage the tension between qualitative and quantitative evaluations in different ways. At the U.S. website, journalists distinguish sharply between editorial and click-based modes of evaluation and keep them separate in their daily work. In contrast, LaPlace's journalists constantly switch back and forth between qualitative and quantitative criteria of value. These different organizational styles manifest themselves in each website's editorial formats, newsrooms routines, and compensation practices. These differences between the American and French news organizations can usefully be analyzed as distinct "arrangements" between modes of evaluation. Such arrangements stem from the respective trajectories and structures of the American and French journalistic fields. The American journalistic field has a long history of strong market forces, professionalization, and marked specialization. These features emerged more recently in the French journalistic field. Growing economic pressures in the form of "clicks" affect American and French web journalists in different ways, with important effects on the content of online news in the two countries. This dissertation thus underscores how American and French journalists actively reproduce national differences at a time of economic and technological convergence.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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