Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Fourth Conference on Innovation Journalism Has Been Announced


This is the theme of The Fourth Conference on Innovation Journalism, which will be held at Stanford University May 21-23 this year.

The Fourth Conference on Innovation Journalism is a gathering for professionals to discuss the interaction between journalism and innovation, including how innovation is changing the profession and business of journalism, how to cover innovation in the news, and how journalism links innovation with society. Target participants for the conference include journalists, professionals connected to the media/communications industry, innovation experts, students, and researchers.

The aim of the conference is to improve the understanding of how journalism and innovation drive each other, and to identify the key components of innovation journalism. This will involve looking at the innovation ecosystem as a playing field for journalism and choosing strategies that will allow media outlets to deliver quality news using the latest technology and to thrive in a competitive marketplace.

For more information or to register for the event, go to the conference website.
There is also information for those who are intrested in making a contribution to the conference.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Innovation Stories May Be Easier Done on Web than on Paper

Innovation Journalism is about mixing the traditional news beats. That may be more difficult to do on paper than on the web. Here is why:

The innovation story is nowadays rarely about tech OR business OR politics OR culture. It's increasingly about the mix of them. For those who need an example: Look first at the introduction of the music CD. Tech news reported on it in 1979. It was introduced to the market in 1982, and a few years later the business news could report on how it was taking over the market. That gave the news consumers the full story. Then look at what happened one decade later, when MP3-music got onto the Internet. This time the story was different - tech, business and culture were nested. Technology, business models, legal frameworks and culture are all interacting components of the story, and none of these components can reveal the story on their own. Which section should it be printed on in the newspaper? Tricky choice! It can only be printed in one news section, no one will print the same story in several places in the newspaper. Each section has a title and character of its own, like "business", "technology" or "culture", and is headed by an editor who is responsible for what goes in. Newsrooms are built for speed. News editors will have an easier life not overlapping each other. So many of them will drop important parts of a story in order to make it fit into their slot and not tread on any other editor's turf.

Ergo - news on paper offers a snug fit for a traditional line organization. The organization of the work force mirrors the structure of the newspaper. Each employee reports to one boss. And this usually means a bumpy and unsafe road for maverick writers attempting to cross the lines, trying to work with several bosses. Mixing tech, business, politics and culture - that can mean trouble for a writer!

The Web offers different circumstances than paper does. News sections are no longer physical spaces, they are tags. Each story can easily carry several tags, so there is no problem running the same story as "culture" and "business" and "tech" at the same time. There is no problem introducing multidisciplinary labels, like "innovation". Beats can overlap.

I am not saying that organizations doing news on the web can't be organized like paper newsrooms - many of them are. The point is: they don't have to! The crucial difference to paper news: News on the web does not inherently enforce a line organization with separated news beats.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Journalism Now Subject to Moore's law

Using fossil fuel for distributing yesterdays news printed on dead trees will not remain a sustainable value proposition. We all know it, and the birth pangs of the new news industry can be felt all over the world. Established newspapers are changing owners like never before in modern times, the LA Times being the latest - but certainly not the last - monolith to go on the auction block.

The ad-based newspaper is a classic business model which has served society during the past two centuries with only minor changes. Printing and distribution technologies have improved, as have the tools used by journalists and marketers. But the basic principles have remained. So it is hardly surprising that large parts of the newspaper industry are unfamiliar with R&D departments and lack a true innovation culture. Something they will need more and more.

We can only speculate at this time how the new news industry will look like, but one thing we know for sure: any tool or solution introduced today will need to be replaced in a very short time. By going on the Internet, the news industry has become subject to Moore's law (things entering the market in two years time will have double the capacity of the stuff being released today).

Many newsrooms are bothered by introducing new tools and routines. They better start enjoying it, because as from now, as soon as they have made a change, they need start planning for changing it again.

The news industry is about to join the family of R&D-intensive innovation industries. Can the old news industry do it? Those who don't risk being toppled by the new kids on the block.

Monday, January 08, 2007

InJo on Slovenian Course Curriculum

Slovenia again. Violeta Bulc, the entrepreneur spearheading the introduction of the concept of innovation journalism in Slovenia, writes in her blog:

One more step in the manifestation and integration of the InJo concept. Yesterday I’ve started lecturing the »Innovation management« class at DOBA University. InJo found its place in the curriculum as an important tool for a successful manifestation of innovative society. Congratulation to the management of the school for advanced thinking and I will try my best to raise an appropriate interest for the subject with students, as well.

Finance [largest business daily in Slovenia. /David] are cool. They opened up their database (for a limited time only of course) for the students of Innovation Management class at DOBA University to allow a research on Innovation Journalism in Slovenian business press as part of required field work.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Innovation in Journalism is Key

Throughout the three years we have been running the innovation journalism program, we have noticed how closely innovation journalism is related to innovative journalism, and how frequently they get mixed up with each other.

In theory, innovation journalism and innovation in journalism are not the same - one is about how to cover innovation in the news, the other is about new ways of doing journalism. But innovation in journalism gives leverage to innovation journalism, and may well be a condition for journalists understanding what it is.

Many newsrooms are extremely conservative environments, ruled by long-time traditions, where little innovation happens, and then only with great pains. But there are also innovative newsrooms, where new ideas are tested and implemented all the time. Probably a news organisation with a culture of innovation will have an easier time covering innovation issues in the news. Journalists will have better chances of understanding and reporting on the changes in the world around them, when these changes also occur in their own working environment. It can be challenging for a news room that rejects innovation in its own organisation to report on how ideas are transformed into new value in other organisations.

The Innovation Journalism program will be looking more into innovation in journalism. It is a topic of crucial interest for professional journalism today, there is an innovation ecosystem growing around it, and reporting on it is a good example of innovation journalism. Innovation in journalism is key for innovation journalism.