Angele Christin, Sociology

Clicks or Pulitzers? Commensuration in online journalism in the United States and France

Wed, 03/27/2013
Noon, 438 Robertson Hall
Event Category: 
Graduate Students

Please join us for a discussion with Angele Christin, graduate student in Sociology, to discuss "Clicks or Pulitzers? Commensuration in online journalism in the United States and France."

Abstract: "How do web journalists react to the constant flow of quantitative information they receive about the online 'success' of their articles with real-time internet metrics? This research explores how such a process of commensuration – the transformation of different qualities into a common metric – unfolds in two distinct organizational settings: an American and a French web newsroom. The United States and France are often presented as polar opposites in terms of their journalistic traditions and relations to the market. How does the reception of internet metrics vary across the two newsrooms, and what does this say about commensuration?

Drawing on ethnographic material gathered at two news websites, in New York and in Paris, I emphasize two main results. First, I find that commensuration is more institutionalized at TheNotebook than at LaPlace. American editors routinely make editorial and managerial decisions based on internet metrics, whereas their French counterparts have more conflicted feelings about traffic numbers. Second, and paradoxically, I find that LaPlace's staff journalists are more anxious about internet metrics, which they understand as a marker of their professional value and status in the newsroom. In contrast, at TheNotebook, American staffers adopt a more distanced stance towards internet metrics, which they understand as a technical game that editors have to master. Drawing on the literature in economic sociology and comparative cultural sociology, I provide several interpretations for these findings."

LEGS, or "Law-Engaged Graduate Students," meets during the academic year to discuss a work in progress by one of our Graduate Associates. Academic papers, dissertation proposals, and dissertation chapters have been presented at these meetings, to an audience of fellow graduate students.