Carnegie Mellon University
March 26, 2015

Click and Spin

Aggregation and Expertise in Online News

Click and Spin

Dominic Boyer

This lecture explores dilemmas of expertise and authority in contemporary news mediation via an ethnographic study of what is, according to some, Germany’s largest news provider: T-Online. Usually classified as a news aggregator, T-Online distinguishes its newswork from organizations like Yahoo News by extensively re-authoring news content for its 14 million unique visitors. T-Online staff define themselves as journalists with a special awareness of, and regard for, the interests of an online news audience. At the same time, the end user remains a somewhat spectral, unknowable presence at T-Online and the organization’s emphasis on web analytics consistently subverted journalistic principles of selectivity and relevance to an unsettling mob of clicks. In revealing the subtle but pivotal differences between the US-based and German online news aggregators, the case study demonstrates both the contingencies of journalistic expertise in the era of online news and journalists continuing sense of purpose, at least in Germany, as mediators of vital information to broader publics.

Dominic Boyer is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS) at Rice University.

Thursday, March 26, 2015
4:30–6:00 PM
Giant Eagle Auditorium
Baker Hall A-51