Where the hell is the innovation in journalism?



Where the hell is the innovation in journalism?

(And I will give the Center for Civic media some credit here, you + Knight are on fire this year)

Start by blaming me. I’m a technologist working on technology for journalism. I have not changed nearly enough.

But lots of people talk a lot in our budding new media space; not a lot of people are creating really innovative stuff.

One of the big problems is not taking a big enough step back from the daily grind of reporting, writing and interacting with communities. What is it all about? The nice thing about tumultuous periods in an industry and no standard definitions is that you can create them.


Stop worrying about the past and what you “should” worry about, and think about what would be amazing for humanity and for journalism in particular.

Here is what I see.

No understanding about our own publications. Who reads them? Why do people read them? What do they expect to get out of reading the news? What do you want people to get out of your publication? And please no canned J-School BS answers, think about this seriously.

It is not essential that everyone read the news all the time. Nope, sorry, it just isn’t. What each American, let alone what each human should know is not obvious. Let’s stop pretending that if we all just read The New York Times the world would operate fluidly. But when an issue really effects you and you don’t know about it, that’s a problem. Which means it is a problem that we should be focused on solving.

We need more complex interaction than comments. Using the same tools we have been using for a decade is not going to move us forward quickly. Much as Jeff Jarvis and my co-founder have written recently about the anachronistic nature of the article in the modern media landscape it can be said that our current tools for interaction are starting to feel just as out of place. None of this interaction is revolutionary. We tell stories and have conversations in real life. What can the internet and modern telecommunication technology do to evolve this, or revolutionize it?

Online to offline is more than just for coupons. People read the news at work, that’s just how people behave currently. Does this mean that news is inherently tied to a desk in an office? That could be the case, but I doubt it. What online innovations will make consuming news outside the office more useful and prevalent. And more than that what will news sites offer that pushes people to interact and offline with their communities more. Informing your audience is just not enough.

There are lots of great innovations finally starting to emerge, but I want to stoke the flames of the fire. I know the Knight foundation does, with its continued refocusing on innovation.

So think big and keep changing, because it will be a long time before we figure it all out.

Image Credit: Chris Murpy (via Flickr)


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