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Innovating Journalism

Co-creating digital creativity support for journalists

In the world of journalism a lot has changed recently: New distribution platforms, new producers of news and new ways of consuming journalistic products have emerged. This led to fundamental questions regarding the place of journalism in contemporary society. How can journalists respond to the challenges posed by these major changes? University of Groningen has joined the European INJECT-consortium in an attempt to answer this question and develop a possible solution, in the form of an inspiration tool for journalists.

The Inject logo
The Inject logo

The Internet and digital publishing technologies, like the use of social media, digital content management systems (CMSs), hyperlink technologies and RSS, disrupted journalism’s business model. Journalism is no longer about owning or managing presses and distribution systems. The value of relationships with newsstands, retailers and postal services is challenged. Nowadays many people can produce and distribute news real-time at an incommensurably lower price. As a result of these developments, established value networks and business models collapsed and incumbent newsrooms and journalists struggled with the decline of journalism-as-we-know-it. Newspapers and freelance journalists have experienced severe declines in their revenues from offline advertising and reader subscriptions, and online ads and subscriptions have far from compensated this decline.

Over the past years, the majority of newsrooms and journalists endeavoured on the challenging task to adapt to the current changes in their industry in order to survive. Panels, think tanks, public discussions, scholarly articles and best practices also show an increasing awareness among scholars to rethink the meaning, role and status of the ‘news’ in light of rapid technological developments. More and more, journalists and newsrooms express their desire to develop new forms of creativity and productivity support that enables them to continue to compete in today’s media environment, without compromising on the quality and originality of their reporting.

Bridging the gap

INJECT, an EU H2020-project, is one of the first examples within journalism that addresses this desire to develop digital creativity support for journalists. By bringing together European newspapers, (freelance) journalists, developers, technology providers, professional organisations and scholars, INJECT aims to support journalism and empower journalistic work in an age of disruption. Instead of expecting traditional media companies to radically change their ways, the consortium explores how technology could innovate existing media companies, allowing them to run with the new reality in the journalism field. Specifically, the INJECT consortium is expanding on earlier work from City, University of London, developing a digital creativity tool that helps journalists find new angles and story ideas more quickly.

Exchanging ideas at a Project Team meeting in Amsterdam
Exchanging ideas at a Project Team meeting in Amsterdam

Developers, journalists and scholars

In this project developers, journalists and scholars are working together. INJECT developers are providing the tools to produce original and quality reporting within a shorter amount of time. Three Norwegian local newspapers and two Dutch freelance networks are participating to put these tools to practice. The University of Groningen, together with the other academic partners (City, University of London, University of Bergen and SciencesPo), are evaluating the use of the INJECT tool and its adoption by the newsrooms in order to reach a better understanding of the different factors involved in journalism innovation.

Through this collaboration of different partners, the consortium is in the unique and unparalleled position to identify important mismatches between existing technologies on the one hand, and journalism practice on the other hand. As experts from the field of journalism join hands with experts from the field of digital journalism technologies, a dialogue has been started that is capable to stimulate further innovation in both fields.

Co-creation

INJECT is one of the examples of research in journalism with a clear societal relevance and impact. At the University of Groningen it is linked to other co-creation projects that aim to understand the recent technological and cultural transformations in journalism. Scholars from the Centre for Media and Journalism Studies are working on related topics, such as the Entrepreneurship at Work project that explores what entrepreneurial journalists experience and how this new form challenges traditional conceptualisations of journalism , and the New News Consumer project that aims to understand what the changing media landscape means for people, the way we tell stories, and how we connect to one another.

The connection of theory and practice in these projects reflects an approach that’s gaining popularity in academic research. INJECT is another strong example of co-creation: “INJECT allows us as scholars to be part of the process and take responsibility instead of standing on the sideline and critically analysing it afterwards,” says Dr. Tamara Witschge. “In working together with developers and journalists, we’re connecting theory and practice so that we really learn from the knowledge available in the field. At the same time academic insights can be put to use better.”

More info

Want to stay updated on INJECT’s developments? Subscribe to the newsletter or follow the project on social media: https://injectproject.eu/contact/

This text is written by  Amber Geurts (currently postdoc at Aalto University) and Andrea Wagemans (PhD Faculty of Arts).

Last modified:23 April 2018 09.28 a.m.