Slack, virtual newsrooms and journalistic practice (Article)

Mel Bunce

January 10, 2018

Publication

By Mel Bunce (@meljbunce). Virtual newsrooms have enormous potential: enabling journalists around the world to pool their knowledge, skills and perspectives within joint projects, such as the Panama Papers. These virtual newsrooms are supported by Online Collaborative Software (OCS), the most popular of which is Slack. But although many of the world’s top news organisations now use Slack, there is no empirical research examining its impact on workplace processes or culture. This article presents the results of a year-long ethnographic study of a global digital news outlet, whose remote journalists collaborate, almost exclusively, via Slack. We found that the platform deepened relationships and enabled new creative practices across geographic regions. However, it also contributed to the erasure of the line between private and professional spheres for workers, and introduced new opportunities for management to shape newsroom culture. We argue that the concept of ‘space’ as developed by Harvey can helpfully frame the analysis of these new, important digital platforms.

The article ‘‘Our Newsroom in the Cloud’: Slack, virtual newsrooms and journalistic practice’ (Bunce, Wright and Scott) is published in the academic journal – New Media and Society and is freely available (open access) here – http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1461444817748955

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