1. Noam Lemelshtrich Lahtar: Tools for analyzing technological changes: a must for innovation journalism professionals and students
  2. Turo Uskali and David Nordfors: The Role of Journalism in creating the Metaphor of Silicon Valley
  3. Anders Frick: How to detect and cover weak signals
  4. Tina Magnergard Bjers: Catching the buzz at PodTech - a taste of tomorrow's newsroom
  5. Vilma Luoma-aho: Repution formation of Innovations
  6. Antti Ainamo and Marko Ahteensuu: Reporting on innovation processes: An emancipatory opportunity for journalists
  7. Saku Mäkinen, Heini M. Järvenpää, Turo Uskali and Jari Ojala: Spotting weak signals considering new technological innovations: An empirical search for appropriate sources
  8. Stig Nordqvist and Malin Picha: Mobile e-paper devices - changing media habits and challenging traditional journalism
  9. Zamir Haider: Media Hype: Friend or Foe of Innovation?
  10. Ralph Hermansson: Increased cooperation - a challenge for an Innovation Journalist
  11. Miriam Olsson: Does innovation in journalism, with reader feedback and blogs, lead to better news coverage of innovation?
  12. Marie Alpman: Covering tech startups - Lessons from venture capitalists
  13. Ilkka Luukkonen: Maybe it´s just hot air
  14. Amaro La Rosa: Innovation, Public Agenda and Journalism
  15. Saida Fazal: Covering innovation in a developing society
  16. Violeta Bulc and Mateja Dermastija: The Role of Innovation Journalism in Development of Local Communities

Tools for analyzing technological changes: a must for innovation journalism professionals and students

Noam Lemelshtrich Latar
Dean, Sammy Ofer School of Communication, IDC - Interdisciplinary College, Herzliya, Israel

Technological innovation drives major social changes affecting human personal and social development. Theories developed since the mid 19th century attempt to predict how major technological innovations affect ideologies,economic growth,cultural changes and human behavior (Marx,Weber . . .). In the early days these attempts belonged to the field of Sociology of Science.

Since the 19th century many new theories, mathematical models and literary genres were developed to help humanity and decision makers understand the social,economic and cultural changes related to technological innovation. No one theory or tool alone can provide the 'crystal ball' that will allow the effects of innovation yto be predicted. With the current unparalleled pace of technological innovation, this is becoming a global major concern.

Journalists who cover innovation tend to limit themselves to describing the technical features of the innovation providing economic analysis within the narrow context in which the innovation is being introduced.

Journalists who write on innovation should have as broad a view as possible on the potential medium- and long-term effects of the innovations about which they are writing. Familiarity with the major theories and tools that have been employed by society in trying to predict the impact of technological innovations can lead to significantly better journalism and thus better informed publics and decision makers.

I advocate the inclusion of some of these theories and tools in the curriculum of journalism schools. These theories include: Science Fiction, Technological Forecasting, Technology Assessment, the Media Effects, Cybernetics, Data Mining and Artificial Intelligence, among others. These tools have to be adapted to journalism students who generally lack mathematical background.

Understanding the history of the use of these tools over the years, the big success stories and major failures, will help journalists develop an integrated approach fundamental to sound innovation journalism.

The Role of Journalism in creating the Metaphor of Silicon Valley

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Turo Uskali

Visiting Scholar, Innovation Journalism/SCIL, Stanford University

David Nordfors
Program Leader, Innovation Journalism
Senior Research Scholar, Innovation Journalism/SCIL, Stanford University
Special Advisor to the Director General, VINNOVA

This paper connects the concept of innovation journalism with the concept of neologism. It looks at the importance of journalism in diffusing new concepts and metaphors into societies. We suggest that journalism is essential in innovation economies, since a) an innovation is the introduction of something new b) it is difficult to discuss new things if there is no common language for describing them and c) journalism is a key actor for introducing common language for innovations, so that they may be discussed. Our key example is the metaphor of Silicon Valley, first invented by a trade publication journalist, picked up by other news media and spread all over the world. It initially was a nickname of a specific industrial area, but transformed into the name of the vision of the perfect innovation ecosystem, making it possible for people to discuss innovation ecosystems. First, the paper shortly presents the previous research on the meanings of metaphors and neologisms in the mass media. Then it continues into evolution of the concept of Silicon Valley in the media. Finally, the paper compares the first Silicon Valley stories between the leading American dailies The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. The main result is that the role of The New York Times in introducing the metaphor of Silicon Valley into wider audience was vital. However, it took almost exactly four years for the mainstream media, after being published first by the trade journal, in 1971, to present the metaphor for the mass audience. Furthermore, it was still used with quotation marks in one NY Times story in 1982. In conclusion, it took over a decade for this now famous metaphor to become a language.

How to detect and cover weak signals

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Anders Frick
Freelance journalist from Sweden and Innovation Journalism fellow 2007, hosted by IEEE Spectrum in New York.

People have always wanted to be able to predict the future, and those who can are generally successful, not only in business. For us journalists, finding and correctly interpreting the weak signals of an upcoming trend can lead to stories that no other journalist had even been thinking of.

Weak signals is the first signs or hints of a coming change. This paper is about how to find the weak signals and how to interpret them, with nanotechnology as a case study. What appears to a journalist as a weak signal may seem rather stronger to the experts who spend their lives preparing to receive it. Therefore, it is critically important that a journalist use such experts as “antennas,” mainly by networking with them and winning their trust. For journalists who write mainly about innovations, close contact with academic research – in terms of following and coverage – is also a good idea.

Three good tools for a journalist to find weak signals are: networking, understand your beat, and trust. Passion for the subject and being close to academic research is also very helpful. Useful things to interpret the weak signals are to share information (with colleagues and in other constellations), to ask the experts, and to interact with the readers.

Catching the buzz at PodTech -a taste of tomorrow’s newsroom

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Tina Magnergard Bjers

Reporter at Sweden’s National News Agency TT and Innovation Journalism Fellow, hosted by PodTech Network.

From editorial filters to instant feedback from informed readers. From circulation-figures to buzz among bloggers and the sharing that social media creates. In the media-world of tomorrow individuals can – and will - publish their work on online-based platforms and participate in the conversations they fuel.

In this paper (or rather article) the reader gets to follow Innovation Journalism Fellow Tina Magnergard Bjers, coming from Sweden’s National News Agency TT, as she enters into the future landscape of online video network PodTech in Palo Alto. Bridging the two worlds raises many questions. PodTech’s business model, the beats covered and the media tools and products are described in the paper. Open source media, user generated content and ethics are also discussed.

Although PodTech does not produce traditional journalism, there are many things a journalist can learn about how to practice in the environments of web 2.0 from working there. Changes are up for many traditional newsrooms – both when it comes to technology and the media (tools and products), how innovation and other new beats are covered, the journalist/media-worker, business-models and ethics. The paper ends in a number of lessons a traditional newsroom could use as a checklist for the future.

For the session we look forward to a vivid discussion on the media-world of tomorrow and the newsrooms of the future. The participants are John Furrier, founder and CEO of PodTech; Mats Johansson, managing editor of TT and Daniel Kreiss, Ph.D student in Stanford's Department of Communication.


Reputation formation of Innovation

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Vilma Luoma-aho

A researcher and lecturer at the Department of communication, at university of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.

While the journalistic processes of innovation journalism have been widely examined, the formation of reputation for an innovation has received little attention. Innovation is understood as something new, and the reputation of an innovation determines to a large extent the future and success of it. Reputation of innovations is often formed through the media, emphasizing the journalists’ individual experiences and attitudes toward the innovation.  In addition to media, other sources also contribute to the reputation of an innovation. Moreover, while scholars agree that journalism plays a central part in the formation of corporate or organizational reputation, reputation formation of innovations does not follow the traditional way of reputation formation. Factors such as industry reputation, lack of past records and national legislations as well as the personal appeal of the innovation creator contribute to the reputation of an innovation.


Reporting on innovation processes: An emancipatory opportunity for journalists

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Antti Ainamo

Professor, Innovation, Technology and Science Policy, University of Turku, Finland


Marko Ahteensuu

Researcher, Institutions and Social Mechanisms, University of Turku, Finland

The paper argues that rather than simply reporting what is “new”, journalists are expected to become setters of agendas in society and of how the future will unfold. Is this kind of reporting of “the possible” rather than that of “the new” a good or a bad thing? More generally, what is the relationship of public policy in terms of innovation and journalism? What ought it to be? The authors of the paper approach the morality and ethics of innovation journalism inspired by the philosopher Georg Henrik von Wright. They follow his example of blending the historical method and the Frankfurt School of critical theory. The authors´ emancipative conclusion is that innovation journalism would appear represent more opportunity for journalists and their project than suppression, marginalization or other kind of subordination. For example it seems that attempts to “subordinate” journalists to national technology policy do not in the end represent the kind of undemocratic top-down discourse. 



Spotting weak signals considering new technological innovations:  An empirical search for appropriate sources

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Saku Mäkinen

Professor of technology management and vice-head  of the Institute of Industrial Management, Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Finland

Heini M. Järvenpää

Researcher and a Ph.D. student at the Center for Innovation and Technology Research (CITER) in Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Finland

Turo Uskali

Visiting Scholar, Innovation Journalism/SCIL, Stanford University

Jari Ojala

Professor of history at University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Innovation journalism is interested in detecting “weak signals”, early indicators of about coming events. This paper considers the problem of searching sources for weak signals when new technological innovations are popularized in the early phases of technological life cycle. This paper reports results of a bibliometric study searching for indicators at the applied research and application phases of technological innovation process. We studied the occurrence of the DVD (digital video disc) in trade publications and general press in the USA. Our results show that popularization of DVD technology in general press follows closely with cumulative adoption figures. However, the study shows that the trade publication sources can be used to obtain early signals on the future of technological innovations.


Mobile e-paper devices – changing media habits and challenging traditional journalism

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Stig Nordqvist

Ph.D. Business Development Director eNEWS Project Leader, Ifra, Germany,

Director Digital Media, Swedish Newspaper Publishers’ Association, Sweden

Malin Picha

M.A. Journalism, Project Manager

Swedish Newspaper Publishers’ Association, Sweden


In only a few years time, we will see a dramatic change on the media market when handheld mobile e-paper devices make their entry into everyone’s daily life. In this paper we want to focus on what the media landscape will look like in a few years, especially when it comes to consumers, technology, and media companies. How will the innovation of e-readers change the profession and business of journalism? We are going to describe a scenario of how a future e-reading channel would work journalistically and technically, while keeping the focus on the consumer needs. We will also discuss design prototypes, workflow and impact on content management systems. How can e-reading push the boundaries and create new frontiers in publishing?




Media Hype: Friend or Foe of Innovation?

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Zamir Haider

Business and politics reporter with AAJ TV, Pakistan and Innovation Journalism fellow 2007, hosted by CNET

Hype or media hype is nothing unfamiliar to journalists. However, at a time when innovation has become an international buzz word, reporting on innovation has become like walking on a double-edged sword. As news cycles become quicker, it is becoming even more difficult to understand hype and, at the same time, avoid fueling it while working as an innovation journalist. In my paper, I have tried to look into the broader issue of how journalists handle reporting on an innovation when it is surrounded by a lot of hype by looking at recent examples of hyped innovations, like the Segway, and talking to seasoned journalists who covered them. The paper also asks those same journalists to weigh in on the question of whether media hype helps or destroys innovation.



Increased cooperation – a challenge for an Innovation Journalist

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Ralph Hermansson

Reporter at the Swedish political weekly "Riksdag och Departement", Innovation Journalism fellow 2007 hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle. 


Few would disagree that the political framework is crucial for an innovation-friendly environment. Supporting inventions and innovations is key in most industrialized countries.


There are many reasons why the government should support high tech industry more than other industries. One is that the high tech industry, in general, has a much more dynamic growth pattern. This industry is also known for creating substantial societal returns and positive spillovers to other commercial sectors. These kinds of companies also tend to perform more research and development than others.


But R&D is both complex and costly. For this reason, the trend today is increased cooperation between universities, private companies and government. This way, the public sector can benefit from innovations made by relatively small companies and the small companies get the financial endurance that the government can provide.


Cooperation is becoming increasingly common between private companies as well. Google is for example key partner to companies as eBay, Apple and Sun Microsystems.


In the long run it is fair to ask if the consumers really benefit from less and less competition between former rivals. Competition is, after all, supposed to be the engine in a society driven by market economy.


For a journalist trying to cover innovation processes, lack of competition between companies may also constitute a serious problem. It can, for example, be much harder finding a second opinion or a critical view on hot topics.


If former rivals are unwilling to comment on other companies’ new developments or strategies, who will? Hopefully there will still be enough independent analysts ready to comment, but increased cooperation can in one way or another mean that it will be harder and more time consuming to find a differing opinion.




Does innovation in journalism, with reader feedback and blogs, lead to better news coverage of innovation?

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Miriam Olsson

Business journalist from Sweden and Innovation Journalism fellow 2007, hosted by CNET


In new media, the story begins when it’s posted

New media such as dot-com publications, online news sites and blogs give readers and bloggers vast opportunities, both to talk back to reporters and publicists and to create content.


The term “readers” can be a misnomer. They might start off reading a story, but what more and more often follows is a more active conversation with reporters or publishers because of innovations like public comment sections and e-mails. Such online innovations can give readers the power to mould and change the nature of a given story. Bloggers writes about companies, innovations and innovation processes and users create content on social media sites. One percent of people online are “creators” of content, 20 percent comments online, rest is watchers.


Are publishing innovations facilitating reader feedback and blogs, leading to wider, more democratic news coverage of innovation?


Using CNET, one of the oldest exclusively online newsrooms, as an example, this article charts the different levels of interaction and influences to a newsroom through reader feedback, blogs and social media sites.


CNET journalists seem to have integrated interacting with readers into their every-day work. They also report themselves on the dynamics of Web 2.0, when user created content becomes important to the newsrooms. But can it also threaten journalistic professionalism? Some tends to think so and others do not. The fact is that there are many more sources of news and information in new media. Reporters and publishers know they will be monitored with increased transparency in favor of the readers. And even though possibilities of interacting in online news forums and Web 2.0 sites aren't being fully exploited, a lot of people are watching and paying attention.




Covering tech startups - Lessons from venture capitalists

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Marie Alpman

Finding the next Google while the company is still small and unknown is a dream to reporters covering technology startups. A group of people with the same goal is early stage venture capitalists. How do they assess young companies and what questions do they ask? Have reporters any lessons to learn from venture capitalists? This session highlights findings from interviews with venture capitalists in Stockholm and Silicon Valley.


Maybe it’s just hot air

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Ilkka Luukkonen


World’s major print media published 3,485 clean-tech (short for clean technology) articles last year. Press coverage of the clean-tech has risen sharply, the growth in number of such stories was more than 70 percent in both 2005 and 2006. Venture capitalists are being busy, too. VC investments to clean-tech companies, most of them to solar power and biofuels, tripled to over $2 billion last year. Not all of the companies can survive. You can say that clean-tech is headed toward a classic boom-and-bust cycle. Did the journalists go into the hype again, just like it happened in the dotcom bubble?


Innovation, Public Agenda and Journalism

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Amaro La Rosa

The Universidad Femenina del Sagrado Corazón and Universidad Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Lima – Peru.

When we consider journalism we usually think of media, not about audiences and their perception processes. What does innovation mean to the public? How is innovation positioned in the public agenda? Innovation is not a primary priority for the mass media, which pay more attention to drama, everyday tragedies and sensationalism. Audience research is vital. We study audiences from a multidisciplinary viewpoint because we need over-all understanding of complex communications, how audiences process messages about innovation and use them to build a public agenda.


Covering innovation in a developing society 

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Saida Fazal

Talk to anyone covering business and the economy in a developed country like the U.S., and you will hear about future innovations involving some area of high tech. A wider view of the issue, however, suggests that innovation in a developing-country context is to come mostly from ideas aimed at bringing about social change. There will be innovative uses of existing technology here and there; but in the short run, not much in the sphere of cutting-edge technology.

The key challenge for anyone covering a big new idea or innovative use of existing technology is to see any such development for its worth at an early stage. For those doing innovation journalism, detecting 'weak signals' is not an easy task even when these emanate from tangible technological advancements. It is even harder to report innovations springing from ideas whose strength is not fully tested. Reporters covering them have to guard against being used as propagandists for ideas that may never fly. Yet they must be able to draw attention to Big Idea stories so that they may get support from other important players in the equation, such as government and financial institutions, helping a Big Idea flourish for the greater good of society.

This paper examines how reporters who cover innovation in developing countries can, and should, determine the worth of any new Big Idea for social change.


The Role of Innovation Journalism in Development of Local Communities

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Violeta Bulc

Mateja Dermastia

Innovation journalism is becoming a powerful tool for sustainable growth of innovation systems including local communities, which play more and more important role in sustainable long-term growth orientation of EU. Innovation journalism due to its mission and the concept behind it represents a perfect tool for enabling quality interaction, shearing of knowledge, experiences and visions, between all stakeholders of local environments; individuals and organisations. The first outcomes of the pilot project “InLoComm – Litija 2012” prove the thesis. It is clear that in order to maximise the potentials of local societies a more systematic and outspoken approach is needed and the Innovation Journalism has a vital role to play in it.


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