Innovation Journalism: Detecting Weak Signals (Day 1)


Innovation Journalism: Detecting Weak Signals

Maastricht - 25 July 2007 (Day 1)
“Establishing the Concept of Innovation and Innovation Journalism”

Innovation, Policy, Culture, Journalism, Journalism Training, Working Models, Cooperation Strategies and Partnerships, Research Issues




15:00 – 15:45Keynote: Introduction to “Innovation Journalism”
David Nordfors  
, Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning
16:00 – 17:00 Putting Community at the Core of Innovation in New Media
Evgeny Morozov  
, Director of New Media, Transitions Online, Prague
17:00 – 17:30Coffee break
17:30 – 18:00Conclusion and open talk
David Nordfors, Wilfried Rütten, Evgeny Morozow and others





The manner in which society converses with itself is changing, media experts said Wednesday at the opening of the European Journalism Centre’s three-day conference, “Innovation Journalism: Detecting Weak Signals.”
  For many present-day journalists – and their concerned publishers – working at traditional news outlets, this idea remains terrifying.
  “A lot of journalists feel threatened within their traditional structures,”said Wilfried Rütten,  director of the EJC.
  About 15 media experts from around Europe and the United States have convened in Maastricht, the Netherlands, to discuss Innovation Journalism – a concept keynote speaker David Nordfors coined in 2003 – and innovations in media industries.
  In an hour-long keynote address, Nordfors elaborated on both innovations within the field of journalism and innovate types of journalism. Evgeny Morozov, the director of new media for Transitions Online,  followed up Nordfors’ discussion with a presentation about innovations taking place in new media, particularly within social networking sites.

  Nordfors arrived in the Netherlands on Tuesday after a 10-hour plane ride from Palo Alto, Calif., where he works as a senior research scholar at Stanford University.
  To the delight of the 20 participants at the inaugural day of the conference, he brought with him not only sunny weather, but his newly-purchased iPhone.
  Nordfors stressed the benefit of innovation in a democratic society, and the need to understand innovative processes and ecosystems though Innovation Journalism, which treats innovation as a topic and follows its development in technology, business, politics, etc.


  If innovation could be covered as a distinct topic within the mainstream media, society would be better able to understand the processes which are behind it and contribute to its development, Nordfors said.

  In the vertically-structured newsrooms of today, it can be difficult to isolate the concept of innovation and add it as a buzzword to society’s daily dialogue.

  “Innovation in the newsroom is often imposed from above,” Rütten said.  “Understanding innovation requires a different mindset and the ability to cross the traditional distinctions of fields in the newsrooms.”

  Some parts of the news industry are already part of the innovation ecosystem, but many industry traditionalists are not be ready to embrace the process.

  “What we can foresee is that there will be a separation of the media that carries the information, and the information itself,”Nordfors said.

  In this environment, the role of journalists  – who are primarily “attention workers”rather than “knowledge workers,” –  will shift from that of a gatekeeper to broker of attention, he said. Where the mainstream media has traditionally been in the business of selling readership attention to advertisers, in the future the role of journalists will be more be about simply directing their readers to the best outside sources of information.

  The same technological advances which leave little room for gatekeepers create more competition between ideas – a good thing for democracy, he said.

  Morozov argued for the wisdom of the growing crowds gathering in the so-called blogosphere. Individual experts producing blogs can use platforms such as Facebook, Flickr and YouTube to further positive aspects of community, he said.

  Society can be characterized by the interaction of people in online social networks, he said, where they share ideas and experiences, often contributing to innovation from ‘below.

  “As technology gets smarter, paradoxically we see more and more emphasis put on the role of human interaction,”he said.

  Many youngsters, he noted – the so-called “digital natives” – have become so accustomed to social networking, that they don’t even realize the sociological or democratic implications of  their actions.


  Still, many bloggers and people filing stories on sites like CNN’s I-Report, aren’t doing their thing for monetary gain.

  So as mainstream media companies struggle to figure out how to integrate these innovations into their daily operations, they also are faced with the challenge of identifying and implementing a successful business model.

  Both Nordfors and Morozov suggested journalists begin to think about branding themselves via their blogs or other new-wave platforms – on the order of TechCrunch, a popular weblog that discusses technology,  business and politics.

Thursday’s presentations will touch on innovation in incumbent industries, like telecommunications, competence and convergence,  innovation in the ICT industries and European strategies for innovation.