Actors, actants, audiences, and activities in cross-media news work: A matrix and a research agenda

Seth C. Lewis, Oscar Westlund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


In contemporary journalism, there is a need for better conceptualizing the changing nature of human actors, nonhuman technological actants, and diverse representations of audiences- and the activities of news production, distribution, and interpretation through which actors, actants, and audiences are inter-related. This article explicates each of these elements-the Four A’s-in the context of cross-media news work, a perspective that lends equal emphasis to editorial, business, and technology as key sites for studying the organizational influences shaping journalism. We argue for developing a sociotechnical emphasis for the study of institutional news production: a holistic framework through which to make sense of and conduct research about the full range of actors, actants, and audiences engaged in cross-media news work activities. This emphasis addresses two shortcomings in the journalism studies literature: a relative neglect about (1) the interplay of humans and technology, or manual and computational modes of orientation and operation, and (2) the interplay of editorial, business, and technology in news organizations. This article’s ultimate contribution is a cross-media news work matrix that illustrates the interconnections among the Four A’s and reveals where opportunities remain for empirical study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-37
Number of pages19
JournalDigital Journalism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge comments on this paper from Joshua Braun, Matt Powers, Jen Schradie, Rodrigo Zamith, anonymous review, and special issue editors Steen Steensen and Laura Ahva. Seth Lewis wishes to acknowledge the support of the Hubbard Faculty Fellowship at the University of Minnesota, and Oscar Westlund thanks the Wahlgrenska Foundation for its sponsorship of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis.


  • Cross-media news work
  • Digital media
  • Journalism studies
  • News institutions
  • Sociotechnical emphasis
  • Technology


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