3(1) 2019 POPA, Silvia

LEARNING IN THE NEWSROOM: media infrastructures and the invisible work of technological learning among journalists


ABSTRACT It has become common place to claim that technological innovation has radically transformed the world of journalism. While the end-products of this change are visible, the work spent by journalists to make sense, understand and use the latest media infrastructures, technologies and standards is both an under-researched and rich ethnographic object. How do the changes in journalism affect the news workers de-skilling or re-skilling processes? How do news workers deal with the period of training? I draw on participant observation among journalists from two niche TV station in Bucharest, Romania. One of the stations has recently bought up to date equipment from abroad and asked its journalists to attend online training sessions via Skype. I describe how mundane technological and learning failures undermine the grand promises of new technological change, creating struggles over meaning, routine and infrastructural mastery. Digital transformations have generated multitasking journalism and lead to a new way of doing this profession. This means that journalists practice a variety of technological skills, emotional work and cognitive tasks. If the traditional newsrooms needed to do more with less, now, the journalists are continuously trained to acquire and operate with the latest technologies.


Keywords: technology, media infrastructures, deskilling, reskilling, multiskilling, ethnographic journalism, Post-Fordism