Thursday, April 06, 2006

How much of journalism is innovative?

I am lucky to attend this week David Nordfors’ 3rd Annual Innovation Journalism conference at Standford University. Opening day was peppered with defining and aligning attendees, many European-based fellows. What is "Innovation Journalism", or InJo, and is journalism innovative? Business editors say that "innovation journalism" is the same as "business journalism". Science editors say that "innovation journalism" is synonymous with "science journalism". And then so on. InJo. Hmm. I guess my assumption has been that, today, we are all innovative, at least in relative to a great percentage of our species.

What are we really talking about? Web 2.0 (what Ross Mayfield called "bullshit" yesterday). Hmm. So the importance of accuracy in our terms is crucial and that's why we spend so much time trying to get it right. Web 2.0 and mashups are terms for technology solutions that have been around for several years. Concepts and services pushing two-way communication (also a relative term) and the latest programming languages is nothing new. What I think, I think, the conference is about is maybe 'how' to be be innovative in journalism. Journalism is a bit like software development in the sense that it's competitive and therefore squashes some of the community and sharing aspects that would be most beneficial for the world (of news reporting, of technology).

There is a strong need to track this conference. Science editors have different requirements and research styles depending sometimes on the topic they report on versus say Technology Editors. A drug in clinical trials is interesting whereas a (mostly, at leat) finished product is key for technology reporters. Each track could really take off with some sponsorship and strategy.

I asked a safely polarized panel which they would give up today if they had to: established media with their research infrastructure and editorial staff or new media (blogging, casting, etc.). Dan Gillmor was the only one probably felt that they could be honest, the other two maybe not, Mr. Gillmor answered that he would very reluctantly give up traditional media because he felt we really needed them.

I had a drink I couldn’t break away from with the very interesting and therefore monopolized Mary Granmar, Editor-in-Chief for Process Nordic. We talked about some of the challenges in reaching out beyond her readership in north European region. She was a science editor for 7 years before her post at Process. Smart cookie, that girl. I am hereby planning a trip to the area.

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