Sharing Knowledge, Mapping Needs: CMDS Launches Report on Innovation in Journalism

April 23, 2021

In September 2019, CMDS launched a project that aimed to bring our knowledge about media innovation and journalism to our professional network. The Journalism Breakthroughs project has amassed a variety of publications on innovation in journalistic content, tools and operation, in the past year and a half. Knowledge sharing has been an essential part of these efforts. However, knowledge must be shared strategically to be effective.

With this in mind, we involved 24 media experts, journalists and media managers in a research project that looked to map the knowledge, training and learning needs of our professional network. Our interviewees come from all over the world, including countries from Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. They work for small and medium-size media organizations (of between five and 40 employees), universities, media centers and international journalism networks.  

We asked these media professionals to discuss what innovation in journalism means for them and to define their immediate needs in terms of expertise that fosters innovation. The discussions also touched on how journalists use and consume academic knowledge and how they interact with media experts, as well as on the role played by funders in influencing how journalists think about innovation. 

Knowledge and training needs, sources of information and potential areas where academics and media researchers can support journalists have been collected as part of this research. 

One of the outcomes is report that concludes with four recommendations to boost innovation in journalism that are focused on: 

a). creating resources (knowledge and expertise) specifically targeted to journalists with limited or no access to tools, networks and learning opportunities; 

b). carrying out more systematic research on failures in journalism as a method to increase the rate of journalism enterprise success; 

c). creating audience-centric research tools to identify innovation in journalism that is better served by current technology; 

d). funding locally sourced innovation projects. 

In this endeavor we defined innovation as a process of change centered around adopting new tools, financing or operational models aimed at improving the overall performance of a media organization. Our focus was not solely on novelty, but also on improvement. Innovation, in this understanding, also includes new forms of organization and cooperation. In the face of hardships brought by the pandemic, innovation meant finding new ways to survive as a profession within an ecosystem that needs to serve a variety of publics, with a diverse set of needs.

The project is funded by the Open Society Foundations (OSF).