Alecia Swasy

Alecia Swasy, the Sleeman Scholar of Business Journalism and Professor in the College of Media, will be presenting a paper, Fry Cook at the Waffle House: How the Boundaries Inside U.S. Newspapers are Shifting in a Digital Age, at a conference in October.

Negotiating Culture: Integrating Legacy and Digital Cultures in News Media, will be held in Oxford. The conference is organized by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

According to the organizers, less than half of the submitted abstracts were accepted for the conference. A special edition of Digital Journalism will publish the top papers from the conference.

Swasy’s research study uses boundary theory to examine how Twitter has shaken up the journalistic norms inside four of America’s top metropolitan newspapers. In-depth interviews with 50 reporters, editors and online producers at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Dallas Morning News, the Denver Post and the Tampa Bay Times sought to answer two questions: How do journalists view Twitter affecting their work routines? How do journalists see Twitter affecting the news they produce?

The findings suggest that Twitter has changed the boundaries of journalists’ work routines and news production because they now use the social media platform to cover topics well beyond their traditional beats, play the role of editor because they must choose what to post and put social media first when breaking news. This is a dramatic change from the days of reporters guarding their scoops until the morning print edition and a dismantling of editor hierarchies that controlled what gets published. And an even bigger shift in boundaries and culture is seen as the traditional wall between news and advertising departments has been torn down because marketing experts are calling the shots on how, when and where to promote and publish news. Beyond this, reporters are expected to be their own marketers by sending out tweets to drive traffic to the newspapers’ websites. This has been an uncomfortable shift for tradition-bound journalists, but they concede that financial pressures on their industry mean they must play by the new rules.

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