Making News at The New York Times

Nikki Usher

Buy this book | Read for free online

About the Book

Making News at The New York Times is the first in-depth portrait of the nation’s, if not the world’s, premier newspaper in the digital age. It presents a lively chronicle of months spent in the newsroom observing daily conversations, meetings, and journalists at work. We see Page One meetings, articles developed for online and print from start to finish, the creation of ambitious multimedia projects, and the ethical dilemmas posed by social media in the newsroom. Here, the reality of creating news in a 24/7 instant information environment clashes with the storied history of print journalism, and the tensions present a dramatic portrait of news in the online world.

This news ethnography brings to bear the overarching value clashes at play in a digital news world. The book argues that emergent news values are reordering the fundamental processes of news production. Immediacy, interactivity, and participation now play a role unlike any time before, creating clashes between old and new. These values emerge from the social practices, pressures, and norms at play inside the newsroom as journalists attempt to negotiate the new demands of their work. Immediacy forces journalists to work in a constant deadline environment, an ASAP world, but one where the vaunted traditions of yesterday’s news still appear in the next day’s print paper. Interactivity, inspired by the new user-computer directed capacities online and the immersive Web environment, brings new kinds of specialists into the newsroom, but exacts new demands upon the already taxed workflow of traditional journalists. And at time where social media presents the opportunity for new kinds of engagement between the audience and media, business executives hope for branding opportunities while journalists fail to truly interact with their readers.

“Nikki Usher’s portrait of journalistic work at one of the leading news organizations in the world is a fascinating window into a social field caught between the editorial values of print journalism and their emergent counterparts in the digital space. This book will greatly appeal to journalists and scholars alike.”
— Pablo J. Boczkowski, author of The News Gap: When the Information Preferences of the Media and the Public Diverge

“As the embodiment of the journalism profession, The New York Times remains a worthy object of study, but few have had the access necessary for this kind of deep newsroom ethnography. Nikki Usher shows in rich and readable detail what happens when a traditional and powerful institution must adapt to the inescapable digital world.”
— Stephen D. Reese, Jesse H. Jones Professor of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin

“This book is illuminating and memorable, a minutely observed account of The New York Timesreshaping itself in the digital age. It is immersion reportage and also a history, a snapshot of 2010. It shows a great newspaper become a print-to-Web teenager alternatively awkward, embarrassed, nuttily ambitious, idealistic, mistaken—and, despite all, true to itself.”
— Michael Schudson, Columbia University

About the Author

Nikki Usher is Assistant Professor at the School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University.