Has News Innovation Stalled?


Has news innovation stalled? The last decade has seen significant shifts in how news is created and delivered: grassroots publishing and online news aggregators have resulted in shifting advertising dollars and widespread panic in traditional mass media outlets. However, fresh approaches both in traditional media and in new media exploration has felt scarce as of late. Most of the recent thinking around news delivery involves slapping the latest social technology idea or delivery device onto a news outlet and calling it innovation. Or worse, a retreat into potential profitability through a focus on niche or hyperlocal audiences. Of course, some exceptions exist, but there is too much opportunity tied up in new technology and the shifting demands of the public to slow down the exploration of new ideas.

I think this lack of exploration is due to limitations in our assumptions about where to innovate. For example, participatory media means more than just tapping first-hand knowledge and citizen footage. Why can’t low-cost production tools be utilized by professional journalists as well as regular citizens? And what about the content itself - why do we assume short-form written articles or anchor-delivered video segments are the only relevant news vehicles? As the lines between producers and consumers of news blurs, can we forge partnerships based less on clearly defined roles and more on where creativity and power surround a specific story? Perhaps this requires organizational innovation and cooperative production that is merely enabled by emerging communications technology. Please stop with the same old approach repackaged on twitter from mobile phones via facebook. It's time to get original again folks.