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Innovating journalism structures and processes

September 9, 2019
John Mills

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While audiences spread their attention and spending within an increasingly fragmented media ecosystem, a phenomenon that is presenting critical sustainability issues for journalism and its democratic function, legacy media leaders and innovators from around the world are experimenting with a variety of strategies in order to develop an innovation culture without endangering today’s revenues (Küng, 2013). Funded by the European Media Managment Association, and involving partners from Latin America and Europe, Innovating journalism structures and processes adopts a mixed methods and multidisciplinary collaboration to explore innovation processes, strategies and structures within news organisations. The study will, for the first time, map international practices from Latin America and Europe that journalism innovators are exploring to create robust responses to the fundamental challenges presented by digital transformation, and this data will catalyse a tangible prototype comprising a toolkit of best practice approaches and structures.

With a focus on processes, structures and the metrics used to measure innovation, it will create both greater understanding of the effectiveness of innovation activities across multiple media systems and, underpinned by the comparison between Latin American and European media systems, and a solutions-based prototype will be aimed at supporting multiple industry actors.

Employing an interdisciplinary international collaboration spanning Brazil, Portugal and the UK, it adopts a mixed methods approach, combining quantitative and qualitative perspectives: i.e surveys and interviews with media practitioners and workshops in the three countries to generate rich insights around a critical challenge for journalism: how to manage innovation and understand how impactful new approaches are. The project will explicitly answer the research question: What innovation processes and structures are emerging from news media publishers, how is their efficacy judged? Rather than just present those strategies, it will move beyond mapping and analysis, to build a report on media innovation strategies in journalism companies, relating possible goals and key performance indicators to each strategy, as well as including case study examples. In this way the project will address all key criteria, and will create novel insights around newsroom organisation: how innovation processes are being embedded into news media publishers; leadership and organisational structure in exploring innovation constructs; and assessing how publishers perceive innovation processes and their efficacy. Finally, it will create insights around entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial activities, but with a specific process-based approach.

Lead researchers and institutions:

  • John Mills – Researcher at the Media Innovation Studio at the University of Central Lancashire.
  • Ana Cecília B. Nunes – Assistant Professor at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul – PUCRS, Brazil.
  • Dr. Eduardo Campos Pellanda – Professor of the Postgraduate Program in Communication at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul – PUCRS, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; Visiting professor at MIT / USA.
  • Dr. João Canavilhas – . Associate Professor at the University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal, and researcher at Labcom.IFP – Communication, Philosophy and Humanities.

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