Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Innovation journalism needs a new perspective

At the e-Content Summit in Croatia there was a presentation on Innovation Journalism by David Nordfors (see photograph), a senior research scholar and program leader of the Stanford Center for Innovation in Learning. He started out by defining innovation journalism. He stated that he was going to talk about innovation journalism and not innovative journalism. He was basically not concerned with press room renewal, but with journalism about innovations. Of course, innovative journalism and journalism about innovation can be a good match.

That journalism is changing, is no news. Traditionally the news was associated with the delivery outlets such as television or newspapers. But with internet there is a real change. The delivery infrastructure is diminishing. In fact news content is disassociating itself from the delivery infrastructure. There is now a greater competition for eyeballs, competition of attention and higher demands on credibility. Besides building a brand is more important than ever. The news industry is now becoming a part of the innovation economy.

Innovation is a complex process. It is not linear, but goes through phases such as basic research, applied research, development and commercialisation plus the progressive and regressive feedbacks. The innovation system concerns the flow of technology, information and capital among people, enterprises and institutions. In parallel with this flow of technology key actors such as journalist, pr officials and communicators come along to fight for the attention.

Introduction of something new requires communication, which in turn requires a new language and a new name. The introduction of the iPhone for example was such an event with its own battle for the eyeballs and its own name. The launch was not just an innovation for a small group of people, but it was a broad happening in which news media are the actors for creating shared knowledge among politicians, academics and public.

Innovation needs it own policy. A network global professional community for innovation journalism is needed, backed up by scholarly research on the interaction between journalism and innovation.

In short, news media will have to get out their journalistic habit to sort news in category slots and categories like abroad, internal situation, media and sports. I have experienced these situations several times in the past. When a new CD title was produced, the press release was often treated by the staff of the economy sector as this most likely had something to do with Philips. A CD-ROM with poems was not covered by the staff of the book section, but by the media editor, who usually was a television entertainment journalist.

Innovation journalists should be able to cover the full cycle of innovation: from the basic innovative ideas, to the technical effects, the economic consequences as well as political and ethical implications.

David Nordfors has set up a program and courses at Stanford for journalists, technical authors, public relations officials and lobbyists. And there is a website and blog.

Blog Posting Number: 864


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