Scrutinizing journalistic innovation in the Netherlands: a longitudinal perspective

    Activiteit: Academic presentationAcademic


    Based on a longitudinal inquiry into journalism’s innovation discourse in The Netherlands, this paper argues that the emphasis on new technologies and business models obscures the question to what extent and how journalism as a professional conception and practice is innovating. Moreover, it argues that the dominance of a short-term perspective on journalistic innovation conceals the persistence of traditional conceptions of journalism as well as the regular resurfacing of ‘new’ ideas to innovate journalism as a professional conception and practice. By adopting a longitudinal perspective on the innovation of journalism’s professional practice, this paper answers the call for “temporal reflexivity” as a way to critically interrogate presentist claims of change and innovation in journalism (Carlson & Lewis 2018). As such it acknowledges the gradual pace and complexity of innovation as a social process that is shaped by the continuous strategic negotiation between stasis and change, between conservative and progressive forces within the field, which drives journalistic development (Bourdieu 2005). In the digital era in which traditional business models no longer work and journalism is struggling to preserve its role as “the sense-making practice” of modern democratic societies (Hartley 1996), innovation is regarded as something of a panacea for journalism’s future by many journalists and scholars alike. Supported by many funding opportunities, think tanks and journalism ‘labs’ aimed at journalistic innovation, the assumption that due to the “exceptional contemporary conditions” journalism needs to change fundamentally and “shed many of its historical accretions” (Creech & Nadler, 2017) is ubiquitous. Current research into journalistic innovation is hampered by this ‘pro-innovation bias’ (Creech & Nadler, 2017) as overheated wishes and expectations of the pace and scope of innovation hide the persistence of traditional norms, routines and forms. Moreover, journalistic innovation is too often still seen as driven by individuals’ creative freedom to reshape journalism the way they see fit, disregarding the structural and discursive constraints that delimit journalism’s development. This paper combines a quantitative content analysis with an in-depth qualitative discourse analysis to map and analyze the discourse on innovation in De Journalist (Villamedia from 2009 onwards), journalism’s trade magazine in the Netherlands, between 2000 and 2020. The quantitative content analysis will map the general attention for journalistic innovation, the specific themes associated with it (e.g. business models, audience engagement, new technologies, etc.) and their frequencies. Furthermore, it will identify the actors associated to innovation, such as specific journalists, media organizations, or commentators that get a platform. This general overview of who and what journalistic innovation relates to and how this has developed the last decades, is complemented with a smaller, more in-depth inquiry, which analyzes how innovation is understood and to what extent this has evolved. Moreover, it identifies the underlying reasons that justify the need to innovate journalism, thereby elucidating how different ways of envisioning journalism’s future influence the direction in which its practice develops and changes. Ultimately, this paper contributes to the development of sustainable innovation that moves beyond a short-term perspective focusing on the ‘bright shiny things’ (Posetti 2018).
    EvenementstitelECREA 2021: Communication and trust: building safe, sustainable and promising futures
    Mate van erkenningInternational