Saturday, May 30, 2009

IJ-6 Conference Sum-Up

IJ-6 The Sixth Conference on Innovation Journalism took place at Stanford on May 18-20 2009. The conference carried the title "Task: Journalism succeeding with innovation". It was the most successful IJ-conference so far. For details about what was going on, check out the conference website.

IJ-6 hosted 241 people from 15 countries. This is our record so far, last year we had around 180 participants. The conference had a new format this year - instead of lots of panel discussion following each other, we arranged massively parallel workshops, so that all participants could take part in discussing topics that interested them. It was very successful. We had only three plenary presentations the two first days - all of them keynote sessions, which I had the pleasure to moderate.

The opening keynote was delivered by Vint Cerf, "father of the Internet" and Chief Internet Evangelist of Google, who co-invented TCP/IP and co-founded the Internet-culture. We had a surprise visit by Doug Engelbart, who sat in with us on stage for the Q&A. Doug invented the computer mouse, as a part of demonstrating the first computer system with GUI, videoconferencing, teleconferencing, email and hypertext. Doug's lab at SRI was responsible for more breakthrough innovation than possibly any other lab before or since.

It was good to have them both on stage at the same time, they both have a big part in changing the world. The picture with both of them will be something to show the grandchildren one day. Both Vint and Doug take an interest in the future of journalism and are friends of the Injo Initiative at Stanford. Vint is on our advisory board, and keynoted once before, at IJ-3. Doug keynoted IJ-4.

The second keynote was by Curt Carlson, President SRI International, followed by a panel of three ace journalists: Gregg Zachary - now working with developing journalism in Africa, Michael Kanellos from Greentech Media and Eric Eldon from Venturebeat. Curt is just like Vint and Doug a regular guest of IJ-conference, and he is a member of our advisory board. Curt has a particularly deep understanding of how innovation happens, the impact it has on the world, his knowledge spans across tech, business and politics, and he is at home on all these arenas. The discussion among them was how journalism is managing to cover innovation today.

The third keynote was given by Jason Pontin, CEO and Editor in Chief of the Technology Review - which won a gold medal for best technology magazine last year. Jason's point was that for a publication to survive, the leadership needs to know both journalism business and content, it's not enough to know only one of them. He was joined by Amir Jahangir, CEO of SAMAA TV from Pakistan, and Thomas Frostberg, Senior Business Columnist of Sydsvenska Dagbladet from Sweden.

The third day of IJ-6 was dedicated to two parallel tracks, whereof one was case studies from the practice of innovation journalism in various places around the world.

The other one was the Academic Track, held for the first time this year. When we made the call for papers we expected perhaps half a dozen contributions - Innovation Journalism is a very new research topic. We got many submissions, and could accept no less than 20 papers. The Academic Track has a website of its own, where the conference papers are available - check out

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