northwestern talk as discussant of online journalism and scholarship

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Putting Things to Work:

Reflections on Scholarship on Online News

William H. Dutton

Quello Professor of Media and Information Policy

Michigan State University

Notes on Presentation for Remaking (Digital) News Symposium, Northwestern University, 11 April 2015.

Pablo Boczkowski & Eugenia Mitchelstein: Scholarship


Major Strides in 25 Years

Problem for Communication Research Generally

Key Issue / Goal for this Field: Another Level of Impact

BUT Importing v Exporting Ideas


Trojan Horse Threat to the Field

Burgeoning Source of Scholarly Research on Journalism

Problem Focused

Theories from Different Fields

Methodologically Pragmatic, from Ethnography to Big Data

Rodney Benson: Searching for a Good Explanation


New Descriptivism

Cultural Power Jeff Alexander a model?

Four Criteria for Good Explanations

Framing explanatory v descriptive questions

Techno-economic determinism v prof ethics and civic morals

But, arguably lack facts relative to theory (Galbraith)

Add Interesting? [Murray S. Davis, 1971]

Debate Generalizing: Cases Generate Theory v Validate

Beware of Simplify and Exaggerate Anon. v Research

Democratic elitism & populism bringing the audience back

Chris Anderson: Technology without History


Ahistorical Research

Historical Amnesia

Techno Determinism Prioritizes Focus on the Future

Innovation Amnesia Dutton (1995)

Growing Significance will Erode this Limitation

Functional in Fields (video phone, videotext, online news)

Ethnography v History Multiple Methods

Complementary Historical Perspectives

Innis, McLuhan, et al

Add Bell (codification) re algorithms and computational analytics, Castells?

Internet Studies Facing Similar Issues, but Visions Matter

Persisting Culture of Journalism

Organizational Time Travel an Intriguing Focus

Pablo Boczkowski & Eugenia Mitchelstein: Moving Beyond


Market & Historical Context

More Open and Transparent Organizations

Accountability (4th and 5th Estate, whistleblowing)

Professional Dynamics

Journalistic Practices

New Business Models

Historical Perspectives innovation (Reuters from carrier pigeons to digital; whistleblowing)

Field Work to Screen Work

Fact Finding to Information Curation

Acceleration, Immediacy, Always Available (Wacjman Pressed for Time)

Relation with Audiences

We Know What People Read

People telling media what to think about transforming agenda-setting

Dynamics of Gatekeeping in Science, Organizations, Education,

Distinguishing Networked Institutions Journalism v Networked Individuals?

Deciding Whats Scholarship



Sound Innovative Methods?

Significant for and beyond Journalism?

In Context but Not Ephemeral?

Reflections on Digital Journalism Research

William H. Dutton

Quello Professor of Media and Information Policy

Michigan State University

Notes on Presentation for Online Journalism Conference, Northwestern University, 11 April 2015.