Newsmaking and sensemaking: Navigating temporal transitions between planned and unexpected events

Gerardo Patriotta, Daniel A. Gruber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Navigating transitions between planned and unexpected events is a familiar challenge for organizations, and yet little is known about the sensemaking processes by which organizational members coordinate action to fit unexpected events within temporally defined plans and schedules. Drawing on an ethnographic study conducted at a local U.S. television station (codenamed "Local TV"), we elaborate on how workers in the news department plan their stories on a daily basis and adjust their plans when new stories break. We find that newsmaking is shaped by expectancy frameworks, which define the baseline of what is expected to occur during the news day, and typifications, which allow newsworkers to categorize incoming events based on relevance and update expectancy frameworks accordingly. Taken together, these provide newsworkers with sensemaking resources for responding regularly to unexpected events. Our study contributes to the understanding of sensemaking processes in three main areas: the effect of time-based dynamics on the control and coordination of work, the interaction of routine and mindful processes in response to unexpected events, and the structural influences of expectations and typifications on sensemaking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1574-1592
Number of pages19
JournalOrganization Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2015


  • Expectations
  • Sensemaking
  • Time
  • Typifications
  • Unexpected
  • news

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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