Discussing open innovation and open source at the Future of Journalism 2011

Hello from Wales! I’m here at the biennial Future of Journalism Conference, put on by Cardiff University (which has a powerhouse journalism studies program, the likes of which I wish we had in the States) and the Journalism Studies / Journalism Practice academic journals (of which I’m a fan).

I’m presenting two papers representing my research on innovation in journalism: the first, co-authored with Tanja Aitamurto, looks at how the concept of open innovation can be applied to R&D challenges in the news industry; the second draws from my dissertation to examine the relationship between the professional ideology of journalism and open-source software and culture. Here are the citations and abstracts:

Aitamurto, T., & Lewis, S. C. Open Innovation, R&D, and the News Industry. Paper presented to the third biennial Future of Journalism Conference, Cardiff, Wales, September 2011.

The news industry, particularly in developed countries, has an R&D problem: It needs an infusion of innovation, and yet many news organizations lack the wherewithal to accomplish that in an era of diminishing resources and growing competition. This paper explores one potential solution—the open innovation model, articulated by Chesbrough (2003, 2006) and popularized in the technology sector. This theory suggests that a company can more readily innovate by opening up its R&D processes to enhance the flow of knowledge to and from the firm. This paper applies this concept to journalism by examining three empirical case studies: the Knight News Challenge, the impact of open APIs at news organizations, and the crowdfunding startup Spot.Us. We find that open innovation accelerates the learning process within and beyond these organizations, creating new opportunities for revenue, partnerships, and fertile innovation networks of feedback. This indicates that news industry players, like the digital media industry broadly, can benefit from implementing open innovation principles.

Lewis, S. C. The Open-Source Ethos of Journalism Innovation: Between Participation and Professional Control. Paper presented to the third biennial Future of Journalism Conference, Cardiff, Wales, September 2011.

This paper examines the intersection of journalism and open-source software, in the context of the ongoing tension between professional control and open participation in digital media. Through interviews with key winners of the Knight News Challenge innovation contest, this article explores how open source, as a technological framework and a socio-cultural ethic, serves to legitimize and facilitate participation in journalism. News innovators are found to see journalism as an open-source practice to be shared, rather than a proprietary profession to be protected—and news not as a professional product alone, so much as a process of iterative, collaborative de-bugging. The implications of this shift are discussed in light of journalism’s changing occupational boundaries.

Email me for a copy of either paper (sclewis AT umn DOT edu), and the slides for the open-source paper are below: