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New chapter looks at universities as a ‘giant newsroom’

A new book on the institutions influencing and changing the production of news, featuring my co-authored chapter on the role of universities, is available for pre-order.

The Institutions Changing Journalism: Barbarians Inside the Gate, edited by Patrick Ferrucci, Scott A. Eldridge II, is due to be published in July 2022 by Routledge.

The edited volume brings together a global group of leading scholars to examine the changing role and influence of institutions in journalism, from foundations to Silicon Valley to right-wing media.

The book description reads:

Drawing from a diverse set of disciplinary and theoretical backgrounds, research paradigms and perspectives, and methodologies, each chapter explores different institutions currently impacting journalism, including government bodies, businesses, technological platforms, and civic organisations. Together they outline how cracks in the autonomy of the journalism industry have allowed for other types of organizations to exert influence over the manner in which journalism is produced, funded, experienced and even conceptualized. Ultimately, this collective work argues for increased research on the impact of outside influences on journalism, while providing a roadmap for future research within journalism studies.

The volume includes a chapter I co-authored with Lisa Varano of The Conversation Canada, and Mary Lynn Young of the University of British Columbia, entitled “The university as a ‘giant newsroom’: Not-for-profit explanatory journalism during COVID-19.”

In the chapter, we consider how academics and universities are becoming more prominent in journalism through a case study of The Conversation Canada and its coverage of COVID-19.

The abstract of the chapter outlines our argument:

Universities as institutions, and scholars as members of those institutions, have played important roles in journalism as knowledge generators, including sources and guest columnists but, usually, at arms-length. This chapter explores how universities and academics are becoming more central to journalism through a case study of The Conversation Canada’s coverage of COVID-19. Funded mostly by universities, The Conversation Canada is a not-for-profit digital journalism organization that challenges journalism’s professional identities, historic practices and commercial orientation. It has met with some institutional wariness from legacy media, reflecting how journalists have tended to react when actors outside the field have taken on activities traditionally associated with the profession. During the pandemic, public interest in COVID-19 supported a significant increase in readership for the digital publication focusing on stories that offered advice, guidance and how-tos on issues such as the nature of the virus, social distancing, lockdowns, and hoaxes. The increased reach for The Conversation Canada came as more than 182 media outlets reported job cuts and almost 30 community newspapers were closed down across the country. The case study suggests that the higher education sector is in a unique position to provide trusted expertise during global crises. As a model, this case study suggests that partnerships or collaborations between journalism organizations and the higher education sector can be useful ways to mobilize university research and expert information given the market failure for commercial journalism in Canada, and its impact on communications infrastructures.

The Institutions Changing Journalism is available to pre-order from Routledge as a paperback and hardback.

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