Time to step away from the ‘bright, shiny things’? Towards a sustainable model of journalism innovation in an era of perpetual change

Paper by Julie Posetti: “The news industry has a focus problem. ‘Shiny Things Syndrome’ –obsessive pursuit of technology in the absence of clear and research-informed strategies – is the diagnosis offered by participants in this research. The cure suggested involves a conscious shift by news publishers from being technology-led, to audience-focused and technology-empowered.

This report presents the first research from the Journalism Innovation Project anchored within the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. It is based on analysis of discussions with 39 leading journalism innovators from around the world, representing 27 different news publishers. The main finding of this research is that relentless, high-speed pursuit of technology-driven innovation could be almost as dangerous as stagnation. While ‘random acts of innovation’, organic experimentation, and willingness to embrace new technology remain valuable features of an innovation culture, there is evidence of an increasingly urgent requirement for the cultivation of sustainable innovation frameworks and clear, longer-term strategies within news organisations.

Such a ‘pivot’ could also address the growing problem of burnout associated with ‘innovation fatigue’. To be effective, such strategies need to be focused on engaging audiences – the ‘end users’ – and they would benefit from research-informed innovation ‘indicators’.

The key themes identified in this report are:
a. The risks of ‘Shiny Things Syndrome’ and the impacts of ‘innovation fatigue’ in an era of perpetual change
b. Audiences: starting (again) with the end user
c. The need for a ‘user-led’ approach to researching journalism innovation and developing foundational frameworks to support it

Additionally, new journalism innovation considerations are noted, such as the implications of digital technologies’ ‘unintended consequences’, and the need to respond innovatively to media freedom threats – such as gendered online harassment, privacy breaches, and orchestrated disinformation campaigns….(More)”.