“Magic through many minor measures”: How introducing a flowline production mode in six steps enables journalist team autonomy in local news organizations
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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While facing cuts, downsizing and revenue losses, media organizations experience paradoxical demands in being organized for print or linear production with daily deadlines and simultaneously striving to be ‘digital first’ and produce and publish stories online on a continuous basis throughout the day. In this paper, we describe eforts applied when introducing the metaphor fowline in a medium-sized newspaper organization in Norway with the aim of aligning their production and publishing processes to readers’ consumption of online news. Both the production volume of journalistic content, reader consumption and the newsroom workers’ experience of mastering their everyday work life increased dramatically in a very short time. The involvement of a temporary autonomous team in the planning and designing of a test pilot aiming to make fowline “as practice”, was integral to the digital transformation success, allowing for participative action across newsroom boundaries. Based on the empirical fndings from the local newspaper organization and drawing on theories on liminality (Turner 1982, 1986) and metaphorical work (Schön 1993), this article presents a set of six interrelated steps incorporating a structure for autonomous teams and their role in enabling lasting change in organizations facing digital transformation.