Ethnographic studies of news production provide invaluable insights into the nature and determinants of news production and a necessary corrective, therefore, to grand speculative claims and theories about the news media. These more grounded studies have variously examined the daily routines, bureaucratic nature, competitive ethos, professional ideologies, source dependencies and cultural practices of the news media. Today, however, the globalising field of news production and journalist practices is fast changing and ethnographies of news production remain as essential as ever for explaining and understanding the complexities involved. This article overviews the field of news production studies and makes the case for why ethnographic studies need to be conducted in the future. It describes past studies and their findings, reflects on the principal strengths and possible blind spots of ethnography as a research method, and finally considers new developments in the field and the challenges that these pose to academic researchers.