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The Journalist as Innovator

abstract Innovations have become increasingly sought after by organizations attempting to compete in a fast-moving and changeable business environment, such as journalism in recent years. However, specific characteristics of the journalistic system, its societal function and aspects of the journalistic product hinder its ability to change. Innovation as a process of social negotiation is by definition unpredictable and controversial, carrying a lot of uncertainty for the involved individuals. Despite this, research sees exactly these individuals and their creativity as a starting point for innovation; therefore, this project aims at researching the potential of integrating journalists in innovation processes.

If we turn to research about recent innovation in journalism under the circumstances of the internet, especially Social Media, the academic discourse was shaped by a technological determinism. One may get the impression that technological innovations would trigger social change and business model innovation virtually by default. However, with the ongoing observations of the journalistic system it became apparent that existing practices tend to resist change, as journalists tend to hold on to their (former) powerful role models, and the system relies on common business models. Therefore, this might require a reshape of the approach to think about changes and innovations in journalism. If we see innovation as a process of 'translation' of positions and roles in a network, shaped by the power relationships of the actors and their struggle to have their strategies and definitions overcome others, it becomes evident that processes of change are highly defined by the individuals, their perceptions and behaviors.

That’s the starting point of our research: How does a journalist become an inspirer and innovator out of an agenda-setter or gatekeeper?

From a practioners point of view (1), we see the need for a strong customer orientation in the news rooms as a starting point for such a transformation – to change the perception of the journalists. Journalists need to get to know their customers and their needs to see the necessity for certain transformations and innovations by themselves. Together with project partners we would like to teach journalists creative market research methods (to influence the behavior of journalists) to deal intensively with the needs of their customers and to make them see the potential for innovations.

From a scientific point of view (2) we’re interested in the, for this purpose necessary, role transformation. We see the role perceptions of the journalists as their habitus in the sense of Bourdieu and therefore as something pretty solid and stiff. How do journalists cope with changing role requirements? What differs a journalist, who feels at ease with new role models and drawing innovative ideas from it, from one still struggling respectively still hanging on classical role models (e.g. in her argumentation or in her role conception)? Which organizational structures facilitate the change of role perceptions of journalists, which hinder them? To study these research questions we work with ethnographic field studies and interviews, and the application of metaphor analysis.
   
keywords Journalism, Innovation, Role Perception
   
partner
type applied research project
status scheduled
start of project 2012
end of project 2014
additional informations
topics Journalism and Innovation
methods Ethnographic Field Studies, Interviews, Metaphor Analysis
contact Stephanie Grubenmann