News Nerds:

Institutional Change in Journalism

Allie Kosterich, PhD, Assistant Professor of Communications and Media Management

News Nerds, Institutional Change in Journalism, Allie Kosterich

The content of news has not changed much over the last century — politicians, celebrities, wars, crime, and sports still dominate the headlines. Yet, the ways in which journalists gather and disseminate information have been upended.

Today’s journalists are coding, programming, running analytics, and developing apps. These “news nerds” are industry professionals working in jobs at the intersection of traditional journalism and technologically intensive positions that were once very separate. Consequently, news nerds have changed the institutionalized view of journalism.

In her book, News Nerds (Oxford University Press, 2022), Allie Kosterich, PhD, explores how technological, economic, and societal changes are impacting the profession of journalism. She draws on a mixed-methods research design that blends interviews, social network analysis of LinkedIn data, job postings, and industry publications to make sense of how skills and practices become entrenched throughout the news industry. Taken together, these data reveal the ways in which the profession is evolving to incorporate new technological skill sets and new routines of production.

In telling these stories and sharing these findings, Kosterich directly confronts what happens when new skillsets and new ways of understanding and producing news collide with the old routines of journalism.

News Nerds introduces the notion of institutional augmentation — a process of institutional change that is not restricted to the expected binary outcome of the reinstitutionalization of something new or failure as a fleeting fad. News Nerds builds on the premise that today’s societies are inherently digital and data centric.

“It shows when and how technological changes really matter, and go beyond short-term trends,” said Kosterich. “But it also demonstrates that, in the long run, the best way to understand change is to move away from simplistic binary distinctions between the supposed losers of the old regime and the supposed winners of the new one.”

News Nerds provides a timely and relevant analysis of professional change in contemporary journalism, and a model for understanding how industries react to the emergence of new career trajectories and new categories of employment.