ONLINE JOURNALISTS: Foundations for Research into Their Changing Roles


  • Jane B. Singer

    1. The author is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication at Colorado State University, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in new communication technologies, as well as various undergraduate courses in print journalism. Her primary research focus is the intersection of print and online journalism. Dr. Singer, who has 15 years professional experience as a newspaper and online journalist, was the first news manager of the national Prodigy interactive service. Her Ph.D. in journalism was awarded by the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1996.
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Interactive media have grabbed the attention of communication researchers in the latter half of the 1990s, but the focus to date has been primarily on media audiences and their use of these new forms. This paper suggests four approaches that may help provide theory-based underpinnings in a different area: the study of journalists and the ways in which their roles and jobs are changing. The approaches are gate-keeping theory; diffusion of innovation theory; sociological perspectives, particularly those involving the sociology of news work; and a somewhat eclectic perspective that explores the idea of journalism as a potential force of cohesion in an increasingly fragmented society.