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Mackay and Ivory 2014: Journalistic Routines
Electronic Journal of Communication
Volume 24 Numbers 3 & 4, 2014

Mobile Devices and Transforming Journalistic Routines

Jenn Burleson Mackay
Adrienne Holz Ivory

Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Abstract: This study utilizes the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to examine how mobile technology influences journalistic routines through a survey (n=156) of journalists.  Findings show that journalists are incorporating mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, into their professional routines. While technology is used to maintain traditional routines, new routines also are emerging. Perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness to the profession, and perceptions of others’ usage influences journalistic use of mobile technology, with less experienced journalists finding the technology easier to use.

The masters of spiral-bound notebooks, pens, and clever shoe-leather reporting have found themselves inundated with mobile technology. Journalists have changed their work habits to accommodate new technology and it has influenced journalistic news values (Bivens, 2008). News organizations previously were slow to adopt new technology (Gillmor, 2006). Research now suggests that journalists are rapidly adopting new technology, although the younger generation tends to be embracing it more quickly than more experienced journalists (McClure & Middleberg, 2009). Mobile devices have given non-professional journalists the ability to actively participate in the news-gathering process as they gather videos and photos that are later disseminated by professional journalists (Bivens, 2008).  Likewise, the new technology has given “mojos,” or mobile journalists who work solely via mobile technology, newfound newsgathering options that can be distributed across the newsroom (Quinn, 2009).

Communication technology provides journalists the freedom to meet tense deadlines without spatial confinement (Reich, 2008; Robinson, 2011). Scholars have suggested that the development of technology such as mobile phones has transformed the journalism profession (Alysen, 2009; Gade & Lowrey, 2011). Reports indicate that 85 percent of Americans own a mobile phone (Duggan & Rainie, 2012). Nonetheless, limited research has attempted to evaluate how that mobile technology has influenced the day-to-day routines of professional journalists. Most existing research focuses either on the use of cell phones by citizen journalists or the use of mobile technology by the few existing “mojos.”  This paper will attempt to fill that gap by providing quantitative data that illustrates the degree to which Virginia new spaper journalists rely on mobile technology for their jobs. To explore the influence of technology on the profession, this paper will utilize the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). This model deals specifically with user acceptance of computing technology.  It suggests that perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use are fundamental determinants of system use that help determine whether people reject or accept information technology (Davis, 1989). For the purposes of this paper, TAM would suggest that journalists will have greater use and intentions to use mobile technology if they feel it will help them perform better at their jobs and perceive it as easy to use.

By conducting a quantitative study that utilizes TAM, the researchers hope to extend the understanding of an existing instrument into a new research area.  It is hoped that this data also may be used as a springboard for future researchers, such as qualitative scholars, who may draw from this data to construct interview questions.

Journalistic Use of Mobile Technology

Limited research has explored the implications of mobile technology on professional journalists.  Much of the literature focusing on mobile technology and journalists looks at a specific group of journalists, the “mojos” or mobile-only journalists.  These journalists have established their entire work routine around mobile technology. Some may do all of their reporting and writing directly on a smartphone or tablet.  In many cases, the mojo has been treated as an experimental journalist, but scholars suggest that the need to save money may make this new type of journalist more common (Quinn, 2009).  Martyn (2009) suggests that mojos offer much potential for the future of news work, but mobile technology can lead to uncritical and weak reporting if it isn’t placed in the hands of more seasoned journalists.

Mobile phones and tablets have empowered non-professional journalists to become major contributors to the journalistic process.  Professional journalists have encouraged citizen journalists to submit photos and other content to the news media.  This non-professionally derived content has allowed journalists to publicize images and other information that might have been forgotten or unknown were it not for citizen journalists with mobile phones (Gordon, 2007). To utilize that new material, however, journalists have shifted their work routines (Bivens, 2008; Gordon, 2007).  For example, citizen journalist contributions are limited or at the very least controlled by newsroom journalists who act as content gatekeepers who decide which photos are published in the mainstream media and which are not (Erjavec & Kovacic, 2009).

Professional Routines

Shoemaker and Reese (1995) describe professional routines as one of several constraining forces that manipulate the work of the journalist.  Professional routines are repeated habits that journalists utilize to complete their jobs.  These habits, or patterns of behavior, prevent journalists from making decisions that are based purely on their own individual beliefs or characteristics. Instead, decisions are based on the standard practices of the profession.  As described by Reese (2001), “We recognize that individuals do not have complete freedom to act on their beliefs and attitudes, but must operate within a multitude of limits imposed by technology, time, space, and norms” (p. 9). Routines can be interpreted as a set of standards that influence all journalists despite their news medium or their individual news organizations (Mackay, 2013).  Classic studies have suggested that professional routines allow journalists a means for dealing with the unexpected.  They might be described as a set of standards that exist across the profession.  They help explain why two journalists in two different newsrooms take a similar approach to writing a story.  The use of objectivity and the news beat are examples of professional routines (Fishman, 1980; Tuchman, 1973). Journalists revert to these routines even when they face unexpected circumstances.  They adapt to situations by reverting to familiar routines (Berkowitz, 1997). Gans (1979) suggests that a set of enduring values extends across the journalism profession.  Those may change somewhat over time, but help journalists to determine what constitutes news (Epstein, 1973, Gans, 1979).  As such, routines play an important role in determining which content is published and which is not (Shoemaker & Vos, 2009). Some studies have suggested that professional routines are more significant than individual characteristics in determining how stories are covered (Cassidy, 2006; Shoemaker, Eichholz, Kim, & Wrigley, 2001). Journalistic values give journalists a means to distinguish themselves from non-professionals.  They provide a sense of stability (Gade & Lowrey, 2011). Journalists learn many of these professional routines through journalism schools and newsroom training (Becker & Vlad, 2011).

New technology has changed the journalism profession.  It has become more difficult to determine who is a journalist versus who is a reader as well as who is a professional journalist and who is an amateur.  Likewise, the boundary between social media posts and news stories has faded and it has become more difficult to separate for-profit media from the non-profit form. In addition, as Schudson (2011) describes it, “the line between old media and new media has blurred, practically beyond recognition,” (p. 216). Historically, the news media have adapted to changing technology.  These innovations have required journalists to learn new skills and have forced them to reconsider the existing economic models (Gade & Lowrey, 2011).

Technological innovation also has led to a re-visioning of journalistic values. Journalists look at the purpose of their stories differently when they consider the online medium. New technology also has given journalists a newfound freedom to experiment with storytelling methods. It also has required journalists to absorb new skills, such as photographers who evaluate audio considerations in addition to visual content. Classic journalistic values, such as the need for accuracy remain, but they have been supplemented with new technologically based routines (Robinson, 2007).  Mobile devices have freed journalists from the physical confines of the newsroom, but by providing a means for constant communication, they have led journalists to feel even more connected to the mindset of a newsroom. There is a sense that the journalist must be constantly present in the virtual world while continuing to report stories in the physical world (Robinson, 2011).  The new tools have assisted journalists in performing their traditional news functions.  Journalistic routines, however, have prevented journalists from using new technology as a springboard for developing a new vision for the profession (Spyridou, Matsiola, Veglis, Kalliris, & Dimoulas, 2013).

Journalists have responded to the growing demand to learn new technology at varying rates.  Some more experienced journalists have declared that they are too old to learn the new technology (Robinson, 2011). Younger and less seasoned journalists have been quicker to adopt new journalistic technology.  Less experienced journalists also are more likely than more seasoned journalists to suggest that new media is enhancing journalism (McClure & Middleberg, 2009).

Technology Acceptance Model

The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) was introduced by Davis (1989) to help explain user acceptance of computing technologies. The TAM is an adaptation of the TRA (Theory of Reasoned Action), which describes individual motivational factors that determine the likelihood of performing a behavior (Montano & Kasprzyk, 2002). Specifically, the TRA predicts that whether or a not a person performs a behavior is determined by a person’s behavioral intention, or perceived likelihood of performing a behavior. Behavioral intention is determined by a person’s attitude toward the behavior and the person’s subjective norm regarding the behavior (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980).

Although the TRA is a more general model that has been applied to a wide range of research settings, the TAM is more tailored to user acceptance of technology and information systems (Davis, Bagozzi, & Warshaw, 1989). It is one of the most widely used theoretical models for describing and predicting the degree to which users accept various types of technology (Chow, Herold, Choo, & Chan, 2012). Davis (1989) explains that perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use are fundamental determinants of system use that help determine whether people reject or accept information technology. Perceived usefulness suggests that people use or do not use technologies based on the degree to which they feel it will help them to better perform their jobs. Perceived ease of use describes the perceived difficulty of using the technology or the effort that must be expended to use a techno logy; the performance benefits of using the technology must be outweighed by the efforts involved with using the technology.

The TAM predicts that these two beliefs, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use, help determine attitude toward usage intentions and actual usage of the technology or system.  Specifically, the TAM predicts that technology use is determined by intentions toward the behavior, which is determined by the person’s attitude toward the technology. Attitudes are determined jointly by the perceived usefulness and ease of use of the technology. For example, an individual’s decision to adopt a mobile phone will be determined by how much the individual feels it will help him/her with his/her job (perceived usefulness) and by the effort that is required to use the device (perceived ease of use).Unlike the TRA, however, the original conceptualization of the TAM does not include subjective norms as a determinant of behavioral intention (Davis, Bagozzi, & Warshaw, 1989).

The TAM has been applied to journalistic use of the Internet. Zhou (2008) found that young, male journalists who have a positive perception of the Internet and view it as a popular medium are more likely to adopt it voluntarily. Also, journalists were more likely to be forced adopters of the technology if they were high-ranking employees at large, technologically enhanced companies who felt the medium could improve their job performance.

Hypotheses and Research Questions

Professional routines provide journalists with a systematic means for covering the news. Technology can act as a confining force that influences those routines (Shoemaker & Vos, 2009). Research has suggested that mobile phones have transformed the overall journalism profession (Alysen, 2009).  Scholars have suggested that new technology has forced journalists to develop new skills and re-evaluate their economic models (Gade & Lowrey, 2011). Traditional journalistic values have been supplemented by new technologically based routines (Robinson, 2007).

While less research has considered the implications of mobile technology on journalism as a whole, scholarship suggests that mobile-only journalists rely purely on mobile technology to do their jobs.  That level of reliance has led the technology to become significant to their work routines (Quinn, 2009).  Reports indicate that 85 percent of Americans now have a mobile phone (Duggan & Rainie, 2012).  It makes sense to assume then, that most journalists now have access to a phone.  As a result of access to the technology combined with research suggesting that technology influences journalistic routines, it is important to better understand how mobile technology is becoming integrated into the lives of journalists. Therefore, the following research questions were investigated:

RQ1: Which mobile devices do journalists use for their jobs?

RQ2: What activities do journalists perform using mobile phones or tablets?

Additionally, the present study aims to examine whether two of the fundamental determinants of technology use, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use (Davis, 1989) determine whether journalists intend to use mobile technology in their jobs as well as their actual usage of mobile technology. As the TAM and the TRA predict behaviors from behavioral intentions, the following hypothesis was proposed:

H1: Greater reported intentions to use mobile technology will predict greater usage of mobile technology among journalists.

As the TAM explains, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use help determine whether individuals reject or accept an information technology. Thus, as predicted by the TAM, journalists should state intentions to use mobile technology and will be more likely use mobile technology in their professions if they perceive it as useful to their jobs and feel it will help them to become better journalists (perceived usefulness). Furthermore, journalists should state intentions to use mobile technology and will be more likely to use mobile technology in their professions if they perceive mobile technology to be simple to use, with the benefits outweighing the effort expended (perceived ease of use).

Although the original conceptualization of the TAM does not include subjective norms as a determinant of behavioral intention (Davis, Bagozzi, & Warshaw, 1989), it is an important component of the TRA and has been included in several adaptations of the TAM as having a significant influence on behavioral intention and perceived usefulness (Schepers & Wetzels, 2007). Therefore, the present study includes a measure of subjective norms, or the belief regarding whether most people approve or disapprove of a behavior (Montano & Kasprzyk, 2002). For this study, we conceptualized this as the perceived importance of use of mobile technology in the industry, or subjective normative factors. These subjective normative factors involve a person's perception of acceptable behavior based on the influence of others (Kowalczyk & Stein, 2009).  Therefore, we predict that if journalists believe that others in the industry feel it is important to use mobile technology, those journalists will be more likely to use it themselves.

Thus, the following set of hypotheses was proposed to assess intentions to use mobile technology:

H2a: Perceived usefulness of mobile technologies will be associated with greater intentions to use mobile technologies.

H2b: Perceived ease of use of mobile technologies will be associated with greater intentions to use mobile technologies.

H2c: Perceptions of other journalists’ use of mobile technologies will be associated with greater intentions to use mobile technologies.

Furthermore, the following set of hypotheses was proposed to examine use of mobile technology:

H3a: Perceived usefulness of mobile technologies will be associated with greater use of mobile technologies.

H3b: Perceived ease of use of mobile technologies will be associated with greater use of mobile technologies.

H3c: Perceptions of other journalists’ use of mobile technologies will be associated with greater use of mobile technologies.

Finally, we wanted to explore whether the length of time respondents had worked as a professional journalist influenced their perceptions of the usefulness of technology, their perceptions of ease of use of mobile technology, their intentions to use mobile technology, and their actual usage of mobile technology. Research has suggested that younger, less experienced journalists have been quicker to accept new technology than more experienced journalists (Robinson, 2011). Therefore, the following research question was explored:

RQ3: How does the length of time worked as a journalist affect perceptions and use of mobile technology?



The researchers used The 2013 Virginia Total Media Directory (Virginia Press Association, 2013) published by the Virginia Press Association to determine the name of every newspaper in the state.  The researchers visited the website for each newspaper to find the email address for each journalist at the news organization.  Some newspapers did not have websites or did not list the email addresses for employees.  A total of 897 email addresses were acquired.  Responses were received from 156 journalists for a response rate of 17.39%.


Each journalist received an email asking him or her to participate in a study examining how journalists use cell phones and mobile devices.  They were directed to a hyperlink for the survey.  The survey was accessible for 9 days.  A few days before the survey was closed, the journalists received a reminder to participate in the study.

Participants were asked to specify their job title and their level of experience.  They also were asked which mobile devices they use for their job, what activities they perform on a mobile phone or tablet, how often they post content to the Internet directly from a mobile device, and how likely a mobile device influences the content (facts, images, interviews, etc.) that appears in their own news content.

Survey Measures

Perceived Usefulness.

Perceived usefulness was measured with six items adapted from Davis (1989) and Davis, Bagozzi, and Warshaw (1989). Participants used seven-point Likert-type scales (1 = “Extremely Unlikely,” 7 = “Extremely Likely”) to respond to statements about their perceptions of the utility of mobile technologies in their work (e.g., “Using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets in my job improves my job performance”), and the mean of all items was calculated to measure perceived usefulness. The Cronbach’s α was .94.

Perceived Ease of Use.

Perceived ease of use was measured with six items adapted from Davis (1989) and Davis, Bagozzi, and Warshaw (1989). Participants used seven-point Likert-type scales (1 = “Extremely Unlikely,” 7 = “Extremely Likely”) to respond to statements about how easy or difficult they believed it was to use mobile technology (e.g., “I find mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets easy to use.”), and the mean of all items was taken to construct the scale. The Cronbach’s α for this measure was .95.

Technology Use.

Use of mobile technology was measured using a single item adapted from Davis, Bagozzi, and Warshaw (1989), which used a seven-point Likert-type scale (1 = “Extremely Infrequently,” 7 = “Extremely Frequently”) to assess agreement with the statement, “How frequently do you use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets for your job?”

Behavioral Intent.

Intentions to use mobile technology were measured with a single item adapted from Davis (1989), which used a seven-point Likert-type scale (1 = “Extremely Unlikely,” 7 = “Extremely Likely”) to assess agreement with the statement “I predict that I will use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets for my job on a regular basis in the future.”

Subjective Norm.

Subjective normative factors were measured with three original items using 5-point Likert-type scales (1 = “Strongly Disagree,” 5 = “Strongly Agree”). The items included the following statements: “Most journalists use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets on their jobs;” “Journalists today should use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to stay current in the field;” “I feel I must embrace mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to stay current in the industry.” The average of the three items was calculated (Cronbach’s α = .78).


The majority of participants were reporters or editors, as shown in Table 1. The sample also included photographers, columnists/editorial writers, and copy editors.

Research Question 1 examined what types of mobile devices journalists used for their jobs. As shown in Table 2, the journalists in the sample most frequently (85.26%) reported using smartphones for their jobs.  The participants also frequently reported using laptop computers for their jobs (73.08%).  The participants less frequently reported using tablets, such as iPads, or basic phones.

Research Question 2 examined the activities that journalists performed using mobile phones or tablets.  As shown in Table 3, journalists most commonly reported that they used mobile devices to send text messages to colleagues (83.97%). The other most commonly reported use was reading the news (79.49%).  Finding directions or using maps was frequently reported, as was sending text messages to sources and posting social networking updates. While participants often reported using mobile devices to shoot photographs (64.10%), only a little more than a third reported that they used mobile technology to post photographs online. Other uses were mentioned less frequently.

Hypothesis 1 predicted that journalists who reported greater intentions to use mobile technology would be more likely to use mobile technology. The more likely journalists predicted they would be to use mobile devices on a regular basis in the future, the greater frequency that they reported using mobile technology for their jobs, r(125) = .68, p < .01. H1 was supported.

Hypotheses 2a, b, and c predicted that journalists would state greater intentions to use mobile technology if they perceived it as useful to their profession, if they perceived it as easy to use, and if journalists perceived that others in the industry feel it is important to use mobile technology.

Multiple regression analysis was used to examine whether perceived usefulness, ease of use, and subjective norms significantly predicted participants’ intentions to use mobile technology. The results of the regression indicated that the three predictors explained 50.6% of the variance (R2 = .51, F(3, 149)=50.91, p < .01). It was found that perceived usefulness significantly predicted intentions to use mobile technology (β = .49, p < .01), ease of use significantly predicted intentions to use mobile technology (β = .27, p < .01), and subjective norms significantly predicted intentions to use mobile technology (β = .13, p = .04).

Hypotheses 3a, b, and c predicted that journalists would use mobile technology more if they perceived it as useful to their profession, perceived it as being easy to use, and if journalists perceived that others in the industry feel it is important to use mobile technology.

Use of mobile technology was regressed on perceived usefulness, ease of use, and subjective norms. These three predictors accounted for 46.9% of the variance in mobile technology use (R2 = .47, F(3, 124)=36.45, p < .01). Perceived usefulness was a significant predictor of technology use (β = .53, p < .01), ease of use was a significant predictor of technology use (β = .16, p = .04), and subjective norms approached significance (β = .13, p = .06). Zero order correlations between intentions/use of mobile technology and ease of use, perceived usefulness, and subjective norms are presented in Table 4.

As supplementary analyses to Hypotheses 1-3, Sobel tests, which provide a z value, assess the significance of a mediated three-variable relationship between a predictor variable, a mediator, and an outcome variable (Sobel, 1982; see also MacKinnon, Lockwood, Hoffman, West, & Sheets, 2002; Mackinnon, Warsi, & Dwyer, 1995). For this study, Sobel tests were conducted to test for behavioral intent as a partial mediator for three predictors of technology use: perceived usefulness, ease of use, and subjective norms.  Three separate Sobel tests conducted for each predictor’s relationship to technology use via a mediated path through behavioral intent all produced significant test results (perceived usefulness z = 4.67, p < .01; ease of use z = 5.33, p < .01; subjective norm z = 4.37, p < .0 1). The significant Sobel test results suggest that behavioral intent serves as a mediator in the relationships between the predictors of perceived usefulness, ease of use, and subjective norm and the technology use outcome measure, which is consistent with the predictions of the Technology Acceptance Model.

Research Question 3 examined how the length of time worked as a journalist affects perceptions and use of mobile technology. The length of time a respondent had worked as a journalist predicted how easy they felt mobile technology was to use, r(152) = -.35, p < .01. Specifically, the fewer years they had worked as a journalist, the easier they felt mobile technology was to use. Follow-up tests examined whether length of time as a journalist influenced the perceived usefulness of mobile technology, subjective norms, intentions to use technology and actual technology use.  None of those relationships were statistically significant.


The journalists who participated in this study indicated that mobile technology, most specifically smartphones, are playing a significant role in their profession. Journalists most commonly reported using the devices to stay connected to colleagues via text messaging.  This use may be another indicator of the journalist’s need to feel constantly connected to the newsroom even while they are freer from the confines of the traditional workplace, as suggested by Robinson (2011).  That need for a constant connection may indicate that new routines have emerged as a result of mobile technology. It may indicate that journalists are receiving a greater degree of advice from their colleagues while they are working in the field.  This could suggest that the tradition of journalistic independence is changing somewhat.  Other new routines appear to be emerging, such as the reported use of the technology for posting social network ing updates. Traditional journalist routines would have led the journalist to submit a story to an editor, who then edits it and then pushes it through the publishing cycle.  By posting social media updates throughout the day, the journalist is skipping several steps in the traditional publishing routine.  This means that the journalist is publishing content - that has been unedited by a colleague- throughout the day.  This could open the door for errors, but it also increases the possibility of the audience receiving quicker news updates.

While only 10% of the participants reported that their job title was photographer, more than 60% of the participants said that they use mobile devices to shoot photographs.  This finding suggests that mobile technology has made photography a new routine for journalists.  This indicates that people who may have not specialized in photography training in journalism schools have found themselves with a new routine.  They may or may not be required to take their own photographs on the job.  Regardless of the requirement, journalists seem to be incorporating that responsibility into their regular work. In some cases, it appears that journalists also are posting those photographs online for themselves.  Nearly 40% of the participants indicated that they were posting the images themselves.  This is another indication that the traditional editing responsibility of viewing journalist content before it is published is fading. The loss of editing ma y result in errors as well as lower quality published work. Similarly, a third of the participants reported shooting video with mobile devices.  This suggests that yet another routine has emerged for many journalists.  The old routines of visiting sources, taking notes with a pen and paper, and filing a story at the newsroom seem to be fading as new in-the-field routines emerge. The frequently cited texting of sources (exchanging SMS messages with sources) as a use of mobile devices was intriguing and may indicate a change in the formality of the traditional source/journalist relationship and routines. There’s nothing new about journalists keeping in touch with their sources.  In that regard, this use of mobile phones is simply a new way of managing a traditional routine.  However, if the texting also indicates a more casual relationship between sources and journalists, then a new routine may be evolving. That relationship stretches beyond the confi nes of this study, but merits additional research.

While this study suggests that mobile technology has created some new routines for journalists, the study also suggests that some traditional routines are being maintained.  For example, the devices are often used for reading news and finding directions.  These uses do not suggest that mobile technology is being used to completely transform traditional routines; rather, as Spyridou et al. (2013) suggested, these uses may indicate that the technology is being used as a new method for sustaining traditional journalistic routines.

Research suggests that in order for a technology to be accepted, it should be perceived as useful and easy to use (Davis, 1989). As predicted by the Technology Acceptance Model, journalists who found mobile technology useful to their profession and easy to use were more likely to report greater use of the technology. Similarly, participants who found devices more useful to the profession and easier to use were more likely to indicate that they would use the technology regularly for their jobs in the future. This suggests that the ability for technology to influence journalistic routines will be influenced by the continued perception that mobile devices are easy to use and beneficial to the profession. Therefore, emphasizing the benefits of using smartphones and tablets for the profession as well as efforts to increase the usability of mobile devices may motivate journalists to further adapt to using mobile technology in the field.

The more journalists believed other professionals in the field use mobile technology, the more likely they stated that they would use mobile technology for their jobs on a regular basis in the future. This suggests that while journalists may make an individual choice as to whether they use mobile technology, they may base that choice to some extent on their perceived belief of the technology’s implications for the journalism profession overall. Thus, the profession acts as a constraining force on individual decisions, as suggested by Shoemaker and Reece (1996), as the journalist strives to uphold professional standards.  Rather than using the technology as a tool to improve their work, journalists may use it as a means to stay in tune with colleagues who also are using the technology.  This mindset could limit the potential for mobile technology to enhance and reinvent professional journalism. Nonetheless, the expecta tion of using mobile technology for jobs in the future served as a mediating variable for how useful the technology was for the profession, how easy it was to use, the belief that others in the profession are and should use the technology for their jobs and the frequency one reported using the technology for his/her job.  This suggests that an individual characteristic, namely the belief that technology will be used in the future, still plays a role in journalistic routines.  Professional norms do not completely dictate use of mobile technology.

This study found that less experienced journalists were more likely to find mobile technology easier to use. Less experienced journalists were not, however, more likely to use mobile technology.  This finding provides only partial support for McClure and Middleberg’s (2009) finding that younger, less experienced journalists are more likely to adopt new technology than more experienced journalists. While less experienced journalists were not more likely to report using mobile technology, the indication that less experienced journalists find it easier to use may indicate that journalists will alter their professional routines around the new technology at different rates. The young journalist’s belief that mobile technology is easy to use suggests that a specific individual characteristic – the experience-level of the journalist – may influence the transition to a new set of technological-based routines f or the profession. Perhaps journalistic routines currently are evolving to embrace mobile technology, but the transition will move more quickly after more young journalists have entered the profession. The use of the technology by less experienced journalists may raise some concerns if, as suggested by Martyn (2009), those young journalists are not prepared to use the devices to do quality reporting (2009).

If mobile devices are changing the profession and all journalists are going to be expected to use mobile technology in the future, journalism instructors should play a significant role in preparing aspiring journalists to use mobile technology as an effective reporting tool, rather than assuming that the students will gather that training on their own.  Instructors should examine how professional routines have changed and should incorporate those new routines into the classroom as much as possible.  This will help ensure that young journalists are prepared to use new technology as a true professional tool.


While most existing research has considered mobile device use specifically by mobile-only journalists or citizen journalists, this study suggests that smartphones and other mobile technology are influencing the day-to-day work of Virginia newspaper journalists across the profession.  They give journalists a new way to perform old routines.  They also appear to be creating new routines journalists. Individual differences may have some influence on how much the technology influences the profession as a whole, however.

This study suggests that predictors of the Technology Acceptance Model can explain journalistic acceptance of mobile devices.  Future research also might consider what role the news organization plays in the acceptance of those devices.  In other words, how much might pressure from publishers and editors influence a journalist’s decision to use smartphones and tablets? Future research also should consider whether these results are consistent with other types of media practitioners, such as television journalists and public relations practitioners.

As mentioned previously, future research should consider whether smartphones and tablets are influencing the relationships between journalists and sources.  Are mobile devices creating a more informal relationship between the two groups?  Are they allowing journalists the opportunity to have a closer relationship with sources by giving sources a constant access to the media?  Are they allowing sources to have greater control over content by giving them a stronger connection to news employees?  Future research also should consider other ways that mobile technology may influence journalistic values.  Gans (1979) suggests that journalistic values influence content.  For example, does the research that journalists find on their smartphones influence the content that later appears in the newspaper or online?  In short, future research needs to consider how mobile technology is enhancing or detracting from quality j ournalism.

Mobile technology is becoming an important component of journalism.  The full impact of that technology or the potential that it has for the news gathering process is still unclear. A better understanding of the role that smartphones and tablets play in the journalism profession will help scholars and journalists to move forward in improving the profession as a whole.


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Table 1
Participant Job Title

Job Title












Columnist/editorial writer



Copy editor







Table 2
Types of Mobile Devices Used for Journalists’ Jobs




Basic phone













Table 3
Percentage of Respondents Using Mobile Devices for Specific Tasks




Text colleagues



Read the news



Find directions/maps



Text sources



Shoot photos



Post social media updates



Do research



Record audio interviews



Write notes



Post photos



Shoot videos



Post videos



Submit full-length stories







Table 4
Correlations between Intentions/Use and Usefulness, Ease of Use, and Subjective Norms


Intentions to use technology

Use of technology

Perceived usefulnes



Ease of use



Normative beliefs



Note. * = p  <  .01.


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