Journalists and the Labour Process: White-Collar Production Workers

  • David Murphy
Part of the Studies in the Labour Process book series (SLP)


This paper is concerned with the empirical study of how three groups of workers attempted to gain control over the organisation of and rewards from their own labour. By examining their experiences it may be possible to show how, even without bureaucratic or other management constraints, workers’ choices are still limited by the markets for the goods and services they produce as well as for their labour, and that by organising together in co-operative enterprises they do not escape the contradictory tendencies towards individualism as a form of motivation and social co-operation as a necessary precondition for organised production. In attempting to answer why this is the case we are obliged to examine the plight of any co-operative organisation or similar attempt at collective worker autonomy in the context of a monopolistic market economy.


Industrial Relation National Newspaper City Life Daily Mail News Magazine 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    See Harry Christian, ‘Journalist’, Occupational ideologies and Press Commercialisation’, in Sociological Review Monograph 29, The Sociology of Journalism and the Press, Harry Christian (ed.), University of Keele (1980) pp. 259–306.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Aleksander Matejko, ‘Newspaper Staff as a Social System’, in Media Sociology, Jeremy Tunstall (ed.) Constable (1970) pp. 168–181 (reprinted from The Polish Sociological Bulletin, 1 (1967) pp. 58–68;Google Scholar
  3. David Manning White ‘The Gatekeeper’: A Case Study in the Selection of News’, in People, Society and Mass Communication, Lewis A. Dexter and David Manning White (eds), New York Free Press (1963) p. 160–73;Google Scholar
  4. Harvey Molotch and Marylin Lester, ‘News as Purposive Behavior, On the Strategic Use of Routine Events, Accidents and Scandals’, American Sociological Review, 39:1 (1973) pp. 101–112;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gaye Tuckman, ‘Making News by Doing Work’, American Journal of Sociology, 79:1 (1973) pp. 111–131;Google Scholar
  6. Lee Sigelman, ‘Reporting the News, An Organisational Analysis’ American Journal of Sociology, 79:1 (1973) pp. 132–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 5.
    Stuart Hall, ‘Deviance, Politics and the Mass Media’, in Deviance and Social Control Paul Rock and Mary Mcintosh (eds) Tavistock (1974) pp. 261–307; andGoogle Scholar
  8. The rediscovery of ideology: return of the repressed in media studies’, also by Hall in Culture, Society and Media, Michael Gurevitch et al. (eds), Methuen (1982) pp. 56–90.Google Scholar
  9. 7.
    Louis Althusser ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’ in Lenin and Philosophy and other Essays, New Left Books (1971).Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    For instance, Stuart Hall and T. Jefferson (eds), Resistance Through Rituals, Hutchinson (1975) andGoogle Scholar
  11. Hall et al. (eds), Culture, Media Language, Hutchinson (1980) among many other worksGoogle Scholar
  12. 10.
    See Gaye Tuckman et al. (eds) Hearth and Home: Images of Women in the Mass Media, Oxford University Press (1980)Google Scholar
  13. T. Milium, Images of Women, Chatto and Windus (1975)Google Scholar
  14. H. Baker, Women and the Media, Pergammon (1980)Google Scholar
  15. 11.
    Guy Cumberbatch, Robin McGregor and John Brown, Television and the Miners’ Strike, Broadcasting Research Unit (1986).Google Scholar
  16. 13.
    This is well documented in an as yet unpublished MA thesis by a former Daily Star journalist, Susan Bromley, News Goes to Market: A Case Study of the Star, University of Wales, Cardiff, 1988.Google Scholar
  17. A similar state of affairs is revealed in D. Simpson, Commercialisation of the Regional Press, Gower, 1981.Google Scholar
  18. 15.
    Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capitalism, New York Monthly Review Press (1974).Google Scholar
  19. 16.
    The account of the lobby system given by Jeremy Tunstall in The Westminster Lobby Correspondents, Routledge and Kegan Paul (1970) shows this group of journalists in a role similar to that of the traditional manual craftsman: that is he has control over the execution of his work but not with its direction in that the nature of content is circumscribed by social and political conventions embedded in the institutions on which they supposedly report.Google Scholar
  20. 18.
    D. Knights and H. Wilmott (eds) Managing the Labour Process, Gower (1986), p. 7.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chris Smith, David Knights and Hugh Willmott 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Murphy

There are no affiliations available

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