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The challenges journalists face covering innovation

I am at the IAMCR conference in Braga this week and plan to blog about the latest in journalism research.

In a session on journalism and innovation, David Nordfors of Stanford University raised questions about journalism’s ability to cover innovation and its relationship to society and democracy.

Nordfors framed innovation journalism as a field of journalism in which we study to cover innovation

He argued that innovation was about technology, business and politics, rather than fitting within traditional news beats such as politics and entertainment.

Nordfors argued that journalism plays a key role in connecting the innovation economy and democratic society. In the innovation economy, citizens power lies with money, in a democratic system, it lies with votes.

In his view, innovation is a significant area to cover, pointing out that economic growth now comes from doing new things. He cited OECD figures that 70% of economic growth is connected to innovation.

Nordfors went on to connect innovation and journalism. He described the innovation economy as an attention economy, But attention is a scarce commodity which is usually mediated by attention workers.

Attention workers are journalists, who have a mandate from audience. On the other side PR, marketing, lobbying workers, who have a mandate from sources.

Nordfors outlined how journalism fits in an innovation communication system. Innovation requires communication. Something new needs a new language and narratives in order to be discussed by the public.

Journalism plays key part in this process, he argued, as there is a vital link between innovation itself and language innovation. Nordfors stressed that we need a new shared language to discuss and critically assess innovation and its impact on society.

He ended with a plea for journalism that is horizontal that can tell stories across silos of established beats, rather than fit within established vertical silos of beat journalism.

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