Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The Swiss video journalist: Issues of agency and autonomy in news production

By Roger D. Dickinson and Hugo Bigi


Using the case of Swiss video journalists as an example this article examines how the structure-agency problem is reflected in the professional practice of contemporary news production. The trend in journalism and in news work in general is reportedly towards declining autonomy and increasing workplace alienation, hastened by the introduction of new production technologies. Evidence from a study of Swiss video journalists suggests that the impact of such change may not have the anticipated, wholly negative, consequences for news workers. The article concludes by suggesting that while it is difficult to see video journalists as skilled strategists contesting control in the increasingly market-oriented environment, neither can they be readily characterized as victims of commercialism enjoying little workplace autonomy. These extremes may exist among journalists as a whole, but the evidence indicates that professional practice in the world of the video journalist is the product of both the structure of their employment and their individual agency.Peer-reviewedPost-prin

Topics: journalistic practices, video journalists, multi-skilling, technology, worker alienation, autonomy, agency, news
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1177/1464884909104953
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1995). All quiet on the workplace front? A critique of recent trends in British industrial sociology. doi
  2. (2005). Back from the brink or still on the margins? The National Union of Journalists in the provincial newspaper industry in Britain. doi
  3. (2003). Creating value and valuing creation in contemporary UK television: or ‘dumbing down’ the workforce. doi
  4. (2001). Dumbing down or shaping up? New technologies, new media, new journalism. doi
  5. (1999). From BBC Newsroom to BBC Newscentre: on changing technology and journalist practices. doi
  6. (2005). In defence of 'thick' journalism; or how television journalism can be good for us. In Allen, S (ed) Journalism: critical issues.
  7. (1997). Live, direct and biased? Making television news in the satellite age London: Arnold The Swiss video journalist: issues of agency and autonomy in news production
  8. (2003). Media organization and production: mapping the field. doi
  9. (2006). Nahsehen oder Geschichten vom anderen Schweizer Fernsehen Zürich: Werd Verlag, The Swiss video journalist: issues of agency and autonomy in news production
  10. (1997). Newszak and news media London: Arnold García Avilés, doi
  11. (1998). Reflexivity, ethnography and the professions. doi
  12. (2003). Rethinking the concept of professionalism: the case of journalism. doi
  13. (2000). Television production: issues of exploitation, commodification and subjectivity in UK television labour markets. doi
  14. (1999). The appeal to 'professionalism' as a disciplinary mechanism. doi
  15. (1989). The rise and fall of Fleet
  16. (1995). War Stories. The Culture of Foreign Correspondents London and New York: Routledge Schawinski, doi
  17. (2005). What is journalism? Professional identity and ideology of journalists reconsidered. doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.