In the early 21st century, daily newspapers across the United States struggled with how to respond to economic and technological pressures. Using ethnographic methods, this article explores one newspaper’s—the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s—response to those challenges, with a particular focus on how journalists’ definition of the news affects the information the public is exposed to. I argue that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel responded to economic and technological challenges by redefining news. However, that redefinition brought with it unforeseen problems, both in the practice and the product of journalism. The redefinition increased tensions between watchdog and beat reporters, and between older, more experienced journalists and younger, more tech-savvy journalists. This research suggests that the redefinition of what constitutes news put a greater emphasis on government and the newspaper’s need to establish a villain, which in turn narrowed the focus of investigative series to malpractice or the abuse of power instead of broader questions about the system itself.
"The Boundaries of Watchdog Journalism at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,"
Field Notes: A Journal of Collegiate Anthropology: Vol. 7
, Article 4.
Available at: https://dc.uwm.edu/fieldnotes/vol7/iss1/4