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From one division of labor to the other : the relation between beat reporting, freelancing, and journalistic autonomy

Sarah Van Leuven (UGent) , Bart Vanhaelewyn (UGent) and Karin Raeymaeckers (UGent)
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Abstract
In this paper, we focus on the consequences of cost-cutting strategies for the division of labor in newsrooms both in terms of differences between generalist profiles and beat reporters, and in terms of differences between permanent staff and freelancers. A large-scale representative survey of Belgian journalists in 2013 and 2018 shows that the number of beat reporters has remained stable although these journalists are expected to cover a higher number of beats. We also noticed a sharp increase of selfemployed journalists. The prestigious political beat seems to benefit from a protected position in the newsroom and is mostly staffed by payroll journalists. Other beats are under pressure, most importantly the regional beat (that has decreased over the course of 5 years) and the lifestyle beat. The latter group of journalists are predominantly freelancers and report low levels of perceived autonomy from commercial and non-commercial pressure. The findings raise concerns about negative side-effects of cost-cutting strategies including a tendency towards more homogeneous news production and increasing influence of PR on journalism.
Keywords
Beat reporters, freelancers, survey, autonomy, costcutting strategies, newsroom organization, time comparison, division of labor

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MLA
Van Leuven, Sarah, et al. “From One Division of Labor to the Other : The Relation between Beat Reporting, Freelancing, and Journalistic Autonomy.” JOURNALISM PRACTICE, 2021, pp. 1–19, doi:10.1080/17512786.2021.1910982.
APA
Van Leuven, S., Vanhaelewyn, B., & Raeymaeckers, K. (2021). From one division of labor to the other : the relation between beat reporting, freelancing, and journalistic autonomy. JOURNALISM PRACTICE, 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2021.1910982
Chicago author-date
Van Leuven, Sarah, Bart Vanhaelewyn, and Karin Raeymaeckers. 2021. “From One Division of Labor to the Other : The Relation between Beat Reporting, Freelancing, and Journalistic Autonomy.” JOURNALISM PRACTICE, 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2021.1910982.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van Leuven, Sarah, Bart Vanhaelewyn, and Karin Raeymaeckers. 2021. “From One Division of Labor to the Other : The Relation between Beat Reporting, Freelancing, and Journalistic Autonomy.” JOURNALISM PRACTICE: 1–19. doi:10.1080/17512786.2021.1910982.
Vancouver
1.
Van Leuven S, Vanhaelewyn B, Raeymaeckers K. From one division of labor to the other : the relation between beat reporting, freelancing, and journalistic autonomy. JOURNALISM PRACTICE. 2021;1–19.
IEEE
[1]
S. Van Leuven, B. Vanhaelewyn, and K. Raeymaeckers, “From one division of labor to the other : the relation between beat reporting, freelancing, and journalistic autonomy,” JOURNALISM PRACTICE, pp. 1–19, 2021.
@article{8703708,
  abstract     = {{In this paper, we focus on the consequences of cost-cutting strategies for the division of labor in newsrooms both in terms of differences between generalist profiles and beat reporters, and in terms of differences between permanent staff and freelancers. A large-scale representative survey of Belgian journalists in 2013 and 2018 shows that the number of beat reporters has remained stable although these journalists are expected to cover a higher number of beats. We also noticed a sharp increase of selfemployed journalists. The prestigious political beat seems to benefit from a protected position in the newsroom and is mostly staffed by payroll journalists. Other beats are under pressure, most importantly the regional beat (that has decreased over the course of 5 years) and the lifestyle beat. The latter group of journalists are predominantly freelancers and report low levels of perceived autonomy from commercial and non-commercial pressure. The findings raise concerns about negative side-effects of cost-cutting strategies including a tendency towards more homogeneous news production and increasing influence of PR on journalism.}},
  author       = {{Van Leuven, Sarah and Vanhaelewyn, Bart and Raeymaeckers, Karin}},
  issn         = {{1751-2786}},
  journal      = {{JOURNALISM PRACTICE}},
  keywords     = {{Beat reporters,freelancers,survey,autonomy,costcutting strategies,newsroom organization,time comparison,division of labor}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  pages        = {{1--19}},
  title        = {{From one division of labor to the other : the relation between beat reporting, freelancing, and journalistic autonomy}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2021.1910982}},
  year         = {{2021}},
}

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