According to Anthony Giddens’s Theory of structuration, human activities are recursive, meaning that they are not brought into being by sudden external mandate but by continual recreation by social actors. So any social system is, in fact, related to rules (understood as routines and norms).
I would like to add: Journalism too.
Even when we tend to think that online journalism brings a new information era in which every old work pattern becomes dated, we will have to cope with new routines, repetitions and recreations. They will be different, but they will be. In the century of freedom and flexibility, digital journalists’ actions will still have a component of patterned and structured actions.
Research on how journalists make editorial decisions in newsrooms […] provides evidence for this approach, showing how people in such organizations over time tend to commit to patterned behaviors, thereby «routinizing the unexpected» as Gaye Tuchman originally argued in 1973.
Deuze himself does not like the word «routine» and prefers others such as «occupational ideology» or «operational closure» (the internalization of the way things work within a newsroom, as stated by Toon Rennen). These terms seem more appropriate to modern usage, but the core of the matter is the same. We are dealing with basic journalistic beliefs or new «personal/professional logics» (or even prosumer logics, now that we both produce and consume the information in a never-ending process). I wonder if we shouldn’t work towards the way of improving such routines in the digital era, instead of denying their existence.
Will the book Making online news clarify my doubts? Its title evokes former works which became great classics of the «old journalism», like Deciding what’s news (H. Gans) and others of the fascinating path of newsmaking studies. So I am eagerly waiting to read it.