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Journalism and its Trajectories: Genealogies of Journalistic Reforms

Chair: Turo Uskali, Senior Researcher, University of Jyväskylä, Finland 

Fallowing his introduction he asks panelist to reflect on Evolution of journalism and the need for journalistic reforms today.  

Associate Professor Peter Bro, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Model 1: traditional model: decision makers – journalists – private citizens as audience: informing is the key role of journalists

Model 2: journalists are connecting private citizens and decision-makers rather than informing them.

Model 3: journalists disappear

Explosion of journalism, it’s everywhere, good, but what about the traditional role? Citizen journalism compared to regular journalism. 

Professor Esa Väliverronen, University of Helsinki, Finland

As for evolution of journalism: environment journalism and science journalism. Environment journalism is not just about covering environment topics but journalists were engaging in critical movement.

Journalists don’t take covering issues as a mission

There’s a decline in science journalism, CNN has closed the department on science but it is doing better than environmental journalism maybe because environment journalism is not good for advertisement. It was too much about news on new innovations, rather narrow perspective of science and technology in society.  Good challenge to take would be to cover innovation processes next to covering innovations. 

David Nordfors, Executive Director, Stanford University

The whole economy changes not just journalism: wealth is not by making more cameras but new camera.

We used to be more organized and people could work separately by doing different things. Now with changes in society, we need generalists who speak a common language to bring people together. Innovation journalism is horizontal, a niche in society.

Journalists are not objective.

Need to separate journalism from media: not because everybody can access Internet that they can do journalism.  

Turo shares data from USA

Trends in media: Iay offs, shift of focus in journalism  

Collapse of the trust: audience don’t trust the traditional media anymore


Statements/comments during discussion: 

Journalist create innovation

Political journalists has a lot to learn from gadget journalists on how to engage readers

Everybody’s kind of depressed; I hope journalism will make a shift. If camera developers look for forward, why wouldn’t journalism?

We have to say public service journalism and not public service broadcasting.

Building an ecosystem around journalism – the reform that is needed now.

In DK they talk of proactive neutral journalism for showing solutions.

Involving people in dialogue is a more democratic and critical way of doing in DK

You have to put innovation journalism on top of critical journalism but there is not enough time for that in practical life. 

Re: who should finance the news? 

Funding is less pressured in DK: Danish media gets 6.4 billion DK kron/ year support. The state supports media as such.

In public service, it is time to cut down technology costs and allocate funds for journalism: journalism is crucial for society.

Re: Why on earth do we need to trust journalists? Maybe not trusting would make us critical citizens. 

Journalist need to get the attention, keep the loyalty of audience.

Value generation is important.

Trust is important because journalists can access information public can’t always do. Trust is tricky but legitimacy is certainly very important especially with the public funding. 

Re: social media is creating audience. Should traditional media learn something from social media? 

They are huge that they get the money. That’s the 3rd model, they have the audience. 

RE: making money on Internet 

There is micro-payment for news to be downloaded in DK.

Reuters make money in selling financial information not by journalism

It is very important to research and experiment different models.

Organizations try to find business models for that but they have started quite late 

Re: Can journalism be transformed as daily basis of international service? (Consultancy kind) 

Consultancy reports make money because they are not accessible to all. If million people did access them they wouldn’t cost that high.  

You need to  find a niche on a particular topic, but all the time you need to find someone to pay for it 

Re: what do you pay for news?

I quit my last subscription on 1997. I access news for free. 

It’s a high time to be creative.

I pay nothing but New Yorker

I don’t put money on news, I follow online / mobile  but I pay tax for public service.

I don’t mind tax: Collecting public money and allocate it among organizations is a good model

My friend doesn’t mind listening to some ads if the she will get content for free

Internet ads are 10% of ads income, Internet seems to offer target, ads is declining globally. Journalism pays for newspaper but doesn’t pay for internet

 Turo closes the panel by sharing a video for further debate on citizen journalism.

Prof.Kevin G. Barnhurst, University of Illinois at Chicago, USATechnology and the Changing Idea of News

Editors keep stories short because young people want it so.

News have become more people based, more action based, more event centered, faster. And it is technology, innovation what makes news that way 

New long journalism project:

We try to adapt between audience and producers. 

Common sense: there is  acceleration (everything is faster) broadcasting, technologies, commercials

practioners: news has gotten shorter – technology made it

critics & observers: speed imperative

some of them  have reduced the text that much tat it has become little more than capture

(the format of newspapers is changing, shrinking)

newspaper: stories got longer

TV news:  longer talk: they have time pressure. Journalists speak more than x2 from the beginning and end of the century.  Journalist shifted away from giving information moved to giving ideas, opinions ( shared two videos to support )  More face time: correspondence appear x4 time more often

Extended NPR Reports (national public radio)

Political stories longer, longer NPR speech, speech time shifted but journalist speech remained the same. They talk to each other more

 – Deep background (of information you need from news) declined for more than half.

Internet news: Neutral technology, constant competition, journalists view

 There have been complex changes:  by 2005 news has gotten shorter. Stories on accidents are shorter but those on politics on NYT are longer.

Yadda news

Traditional news outlets – bla

People news – Who : Fewer actors in stories, NPR use more experts.  

 Talk on new technology is hiding the real reason for the shift

Stories get shorter but journalists do the opposite.  Who owns power, how it operates, needs critical scholarship.

Attention is shifted away from politicians toward journalists.  News is about journalists, this is the power journalists have: they have become a central voice in political life in US.

Core definition of news has changed in US: They don’t tell what happens they say what it means – related to politics but not politics.

Nordic model seem to be friendlier to US model. If there is an influence then journalists and politics in Finland /North should know about the shift in US.

News is more entertaining but let’s not ignore what is happening.  We should also debate on Does yadda news add value?

Statements from the discussion: 

You may feel powerless because opinions are made for you

Young people read what is short and fun

Isn’t it ironic that journalists have reputation but people think they are moving away?

Problem: Journalists have budget but their work is not measured, evaluated

Contradiction: Terrific journalists but when interviewed their answers are wrong, they don’t understand what they are doing

Technology is not the explanation to change.

Journalists like to be interviewed but they are very difficult to interview because they are worried about where their words would lead to.

Lunch break: 12:15- 13:30

The conference will start again  at 13:30

10.30 – 12.15 Nordic Showcases in Innovation Journalism: Mission (un)accomplished?

Chair: Professor Risto Kunelius, University of Tampere, Finland

Professor Risto Kunelius, has an introduction before journalists and researchers share their views on innovation journalism.  He states that journalism is defined by social, political scientists and not by journalists and political journalism varies depending on the political system (e.g. American vs. Finnish) He says developing national innovation ecosystem is crucial for the survival of nation and Innovativeness and  creativity are the key for our national survival in Nordic countries. He argues that we need new kinds of interfaces in this new ecosystem that is also changing journalism.


Vilma Luoma-aho, Senior researcher, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

She says the ecosystem needs good relations, god funding and attention next to researchers, development people and application people. She suggests that innovation journalist should be T shaped people:  broad knowledge in one area, cover deeply but communicative between sectors. They should go in different directions to feed the content.


Anu Partanen, Freelance journalist, US

She is sharing her experience in USA and compares journalism in USA and in Finland. There is paranoia in Finland that journalists should protect their integrity whereas in USA they have insiders in the system.

She defines Innovation journalism: describing solutions that help to understand. As a journalist she is trying to contribute to the solutions and ponders on the role of journalist is solving problems.

She suggests:  Innovation will happen as the company’s business plan. Narrow way of looking at what companies are doing is practical. As for relations between journalists and others – journalist being part of making innovation happen, she is not to identify with company.


Jyrki Alkio, Journalist, Talouselämä, Finland

He thinks the role of the journalist in the process is the challenge. They should accept the importance of the question and see the journalism agenda. Media / journalism are a business of competition.

He argues that grass-root media doesn’t exist in Finland and that is of a big disadvantage for the ecosystem and for journalists working in next level. He also argues that the role of the journalists depends on on what level they operate


Carl-Gustav Lindén, Journalist, YLE, Finland


He has participated in Innovation Journalism program in Sweden, England, Pakistan, it was a great experience to see differences and it made him change his way of framing his work.

He underlines the interconnectedness of the world referring to global financial crisis.

The important is: What is the value journalists bring to society?

Such questions on Innovation journalism should be asked:   is it a new journalism for the good of society? Is it for money? Is it new journalism? Whose interests are seen?

He thinks definitions are not clear. He says: there also is bad innovation. How do you report on that?

Finnish innovation: saving the nation, is not there. Innovation is global              


At the end of the first round of talks the Chair opens up the discussion, below are the statements from the interactive discussion:


Innovations are adapted in different ways – e.g. USA vs. Finland, checks vs. bank transfer- and they are not always global and they don’t spread globally. And journalism is not global as such.

Global comes more surprisingly/ unpredictable – e.g. Nokia (company) and Nokia (city) may be mixed up on google searches.

Re:  Difference between giving attention and promoting it?

What is in the content is promoting. Frame is the best marketing part. Promoting is giving. Giving is promoting. You could be critical you don’t have to promote. PR machine is promoting attention.

It depends on the country and it goes down to core values.- e.g.  Consensus in Europe, failure in North, to be on news and it is different in USA.

Re:  innovation and democratic systems comparing – how do you see the comparison?

You can vote more than once in innovation ecosystem. It is more flexible. Power is with those who are able to communicate better.

It goes back to the role f journalism and what topic we take to the agenda.

Re: Can journalism contribute to innovation processes by highlighting the process rather than just covering the existing innovation?

If policy is not done by regulators but by new actors, how do you put this in democracy? Journalism to facilitate public discussions on the issue.

Re: Is there a distinction between covering innovation and covering how it happens?

It’s risky/boring to cover innovation, could be a failure because you don’t know how it will conclude but on politics you are safe when you cover a political decision.

Re: Professionalism.  Journalists are sometimes afraid of being PR – writing what they are said to write.  Reflections?

Academic- journalist cooperation

There is an interdependence of all actors in society.  Innovation journalism is able to integrate many perspectives.

Re: Are we expecting too much if we want T journalist? What would be the alternative solution?

You don’t need to know all but know all to cover your own special topic. More specialization rather than cover a bit of everything is needed.

Re: Research on changing nature of knowledge work and specialized knowledge. Knowledge workers also have division of labor, work in teams. T shape people are able to combine this expertise in a meaningful whole  – does it apply to journalism?

Engineers have to learn how to communicate from journalists not only journalists learn from engineers.

American journalism is much more specialized. It is not narrow but the challenge is to put knowledge together with others.

Innovation is business driven. The solution approach:  innovation for public good. It is not always for public good.

With globalization, there is an overload of information. Therefore there is customization of information that leads to polarization in society. Journalist should show a broader picture. Traditional role of journalism doesn’t work that well in globalization.

Re:  if innovation key word in Finland, should we have innovation journalism?

Journalistic work is needed.

Journalism has missed an opportunity to open a discussion on which way /policy to follow.

An international evaluation of Finnish innovation will come out at the end of October and it will spark discussions.

David Nordfors Executive Director, Research Center of Innovation Journalism, Stanford University and Vinnova, USA/Sweden: Journalism Driving Innovation – Innovation Driving Journalism

David Nordfors starts his presentation by stating that journalism is the key for connecting innovation economy and democratic society and that journalism needs an innovation system  

He defines concepts:

Innovation in journalism: innovative journalism

Innovation about journalism: innovation journalism

Innovation: process of creating and delivering new value to society

Innovation journalism: journalism covering innovation: covers innovation processes and innovation (eco) systems 

He then compares democratic system and innovation system summarizing that :In democratic system: power is with citizens’ votes, in Innovation system: power is with citizens’ money

Power is moving from regulation to innovation, meaning power is moving from democratic to innovation system. 

He argues: innovation economy is an attention economy  – attention is a scarce commodity

If you want attention, you need to be seen on news thus Journalism plays a key role in connecting innovation/attention and public.

He gives a example of Business 2.0 : Case: Techcrunch 

He presents proposed new concepts:

1. Attention Work

Journalism, PR, Lobbying, Marketing are the examples of Attention work. They generate and broker attention professionally.

2.  Innovation Communication System: deals with the flow of attention between people, enterprises and institutions key to innovative system.

 Innovation requires language; we need a language for innovation e.g. iPhone

Thus consumer journalism is a very important part in innovation in society because it helps people to learn and talk about new products

He states challenges as reasons for innovation journalism not to develop faster:  a) innovation is horizontal in a vertical news room system b) innovation is global and journalists should share information and not keep it local/national

He presents the structure and researches of Vinnova Research Center of Innovation Journalism, Stanford University

He concludes journalism needs to be defined in relation to audience and not in relation to medium – because everybody has the medium.

Conclusion: Which are the business models of principles of journalism should be the question to ask for the future of journalism.

On his last words he invites the audience to think about differences between journalism and citizen journalism following a video he shares on how the police department in NY has investigated a fire in NYU dorms following digital cameras and social media content

Quick statements during Q& A

social issues should be discussed in political, economical and technological context

journalism is the perception of sensory elements of events – referring to the video.

David Nordfors is taking floor : Journalism Driving Innovation – Innovation Driving Journalism

Prof. Nieminen starts the conference with a general overview on journalism with some facts

Facts: Decline in newspaper circulation (USA / FI  comparison),

Collapse in traditional business mode of newspaper decline in advertising

Youth get news online

Future is unknown, how to make money in journalism?  

3 main actions to overcome the crisis:

-cut the costs, charges for online newspapers etc

– let the market rule

– let’s save journalism social mission


who is the audience? – investigative journalism more to be for elite

how to ensure access to all ?

Welcome to weather-casters of Future? Conference

Prof. Hannu Nieminen is opening the conference

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