Newsroom Integration As An Organizational Challenge: Approaches of European public service media from a comparative perspective

Newsroom integration has been a priority and a industry buzzword for more than a decade, but how far have European public service media actually integrated their newsrooms? In most cases, not very far.

In an article published in August by Journalism Studies, based on ongoing comparative, qualitative research that Annika Sehl, Alessio Cornia, and I are doing on how European news media are adapting to digital, we (with our colleague Lucas Graves), use interviews at a range of different European public service media to show only a small minority have in fact integrated their newsrooms, and that organizational legacies shape how they are dealing with digital, with especially those with a history of separation between media (as in France), between different channels (as in Italy), or a regional structure (as in Germany) have so far not really integrated.

Abstract below and article here.

In this paper, we examine to what extent public service media (PSM) in six European countries have integrated or are integrating their newsrooms in order to adapt to an increasingly digital media environment. Based on 67 interviews over two years with senior editors and managers, this study constitutes the largest comparative analysis of newsroom change among PSM organizations conducted to date. Despite much talk of “convergence”, our empirical analysis shows that full newsroom integration remains the exception in this sector. Although all of the PSM studied experience pressure to reorganize across platforms, only two have achieved high levels of newsroom integration. Our findings suggest that centralizing online news under a single operational roof — only recently undertaken and still incomplete at several PSM — is a necessary first step to more thorough editorial reorganization across platforms. Our data also shed light on the complex ways that internal and external variables combine to shape organizational change: in addition to organizational challenges, we highlight broader historical, political, and economic factors affecting how PSM have responded to rapid technological shifts in the media environment.

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