(This post is part of the awesome Carnival of Journalism.)
Innovation is a tricky word. It’s tossed around journalism blogs and conferences with ease, but let’s get real here — true innovation is hard.
This is not to make excuses for lackadaisical newsrooms or those who shun change. It’s a reality. You can have a great idea, see it through to reality and it still fails or lands with crickets.
So, I can only applaud Knight for what they’re doing with the News Challenge and what Reynolds is doing with their fellows. It’s tough to foster innovation and it’s tough to find time in a busy newsroom to even ponder innovation.
But I’m worried we’re innovating in a bubble. It’s not tech start-ups or even thought leaders who need help innovating. It’s figuring out how to do that at work, along with the day-to-day slug. (@grovesprof has it right there.)
I’m pretty sure we’ve all done this. You go to a conference. You get learn new things, you meet new people, think of new ideas and go back to work bursting with energy.
And then you have meetings to attend, stories to write or edit and problems to solve. Energy gone. Ideas lost to your indecipherable handwriting in a notebook somewhere in the pile of conference freebies.
This is where I think Knight and others have a chance to make a difference.
Two suggestions, one for each program.
1) Knight. More follow up. I’ve seen plenty of Knight News Challenge ideas get built and then….nothing. There is very little followup, seemingly and many projects either run out of steam or fail with little retrospective. It’s fine to fail, but let’s make sure that these ideas are creative in journalism and business. Sorry, revenue and/or business support needs to play more of a part. I surely don’t hand out my money without expectation for ROI, why should Knight?
2) Reynolds. Pair those amazing fellows with newsrooms who needs help. I’m looking at the Mozilla program here. Bring forces of change to newsrooms with these people. Have them pair with a participating news org and make their plans, blogs posts and thoughts into reality.
So many newsrooms need energy. Innovation shouldn’t occur in dorm housing on a campus or in a apartment in Silicon Valley. Innovation needs to happen in the tranches.