Professor Nikki Usher's research takes her deep inside some of the most important newsrooms in American journalism. Her extensive field research inside both the New York Times and NPR has investigated everything from news gathering to business models, and she has now published two summaries about that work.
As a chapter for the new book Histories of Public Service Broadcasters on the Web, Professor Usher and co-author Patricia Riley wrote "NPR Online: Public Service Communication at the Center of National Public Radio." It looks at the evolution of NPR's digital presence from its basic beginnings to its current, more robust form. Her chapter makes an important point: for broadcast and radio, online innovation is more than just the Web, it's about audio, visual, and multimedia, and in the case of NPR, these things often came ahead of a robust news, music and culture text site.
Separately, part of Professor Usher's New York Times research is summarized in the January 2012 edition Journalism Practice as a paper called "Service Journalism As Community Experience." From the paper's introduction: "This paper looks at service journalism and its evolution as a community platform through blog comments and social media through a case study of two sections of The New York Times’ business section: the personal finance section and the personal technology section. The paper proceeds through a discussion of the importance of networked journalism, and relies on in-depth qualitative interviews with the journalists closest to the decisions being made about how service journalism at the Times becomes a participatory experience for readers.
"The article argues that a Web 2.0 world facilitates a community experience that changes the one-to-many relationship that journalists have with their readers; instead, journalists make decisions about coverage and engage in conversations with readers in response to this new relationship with readers."