Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Crime News Under Digitization Process in French and German Newsrooms: Standardization and Diversification of News under Web-First Pressure

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Abstract:  Based on a qualitative survey (comprised of interviews with 42 journalists) in French and German mainstream media (print and TV), this article aims to compare the effect of the digitalization process on editorial choices and journalistic roles concerning crime news. Crime news appears to be particularly revealing of the new journalistic constraints: tabloidization and high-speed publishing, but without jeopardizing the ethical requirements of an ongoing legal investigation. Three main changes can be identified, namely regarding (a) the use of social media and its audience as a legitimate source and as a key factor of newsworthiness, (b) the importance granted to online metrics for planning media content and editorial meetings, and (c) the transition observed toward the “online-first model,” which encourages journalists to publish all content online first, updating it to the minute before any print publication. The article first underlines the importance of the digital conversion of newsrooms. Interviewees point out that this pressure has counterintuitive effects, giving them room for autonomy and journalistic creativity in crime news reporting. Finally, and more worryingly for them, journalists are concerned that their professional practices may be undermined, since the online-first model has affected the organization of newsrooms and the structure of the media market in both countries. This structural process is somehow stronger in France than in Germany, but this is more a matter of degree than of structural model differences.

Keywords:  audience metrics; crime news; division of work; journalism practices; online-first model; social networks



© Claire Ruffio, Nicolas Hubé. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.