THE IJ-7 CONFERENCE BLOG

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Desperately Seeking Audiences for Innovation Journalism

Best practice group session on Monday, June 7th at 10.30am & 2.30pm

Innovation is a cultural value, while innovation journalism provides essential information about it. But innovation journalism stories do not always reach audiences. Some editors and news organizations lack interest in the broader perspective. Innovation journalism provides this vital perspective, invaluable to informed audiences worldwide.

But Innovation Journalism needs to be 'branded,' not only to provide audiences quality journalism but to address all stakeholders in creating a true innovation ecosystem. 'Innovation' must become a news beat, building trust, providing funding and reaching critical influences across a broad spectrum of interest and involvement.

Public broadcasters worldwide, as a typical example, are still struggling to compete with commercial media. Their reaction to commercial programming varies. Some consolidate identity by focusing more strongly on traditional public-interest content. Others started competing by matching commercial channels. ZDF and RAI exemplify the two different approaches: one consolidates public-broadcasting values; the other identifies with commercial competitors.

While broadcasters face declining audiences--people no longer listen to radio or watch TV as passionately and loyally--they often ask themselves the wrong question: How do we attract young audiences? The right question is also about platforms. How do we offer content attractive to all our audiences, young and old? Vs. innovation journalism: How can innovation journalism reach all innovation stakeholders? Innovation brings irreversible changes to everyone's lives, like it or not, so everybody should understand its context.

To raise science literacy among Northern Californians, KQED established a successful brand: QUEST. Unlike many public broadcasters, their audiences have been rising, thanks to an excellent audience approach. QUEST comes on four platforms: TV, radio, Internet and an educational program for schools. At my InJo 2010 workshop on Monday, Paul Rogers (AM) and Lauren Sommer (PM) will explain how QUEST was established and produced. Other speakers will include Ian Hsu, Media Outreach Director at Stanford (AM), David Demarest, Stanford Public Affairs Vice President (PM), Violeta Bulc, entrepreneur and initiator of Innovation Journalism program in Slovenia and others.

No surprise that I am nominating KQED journalist and producer Sheraz Sadiq for Best Innovation Journalist. His story on Decoding Synthetic Biology exemplifies innovation journalism--journalism that gives innovation meaning and relevance. Sheraz Sadiq excels in adding both economic and social perspective on how synthetic biology is changing the world.

I will interview Sheraz Sadiq on his approach and best practices on Tuesday, June 8th, so please join us either at 10.30 AM or 2.30 PM. Prepare for spirited discussion and an examination of all the key issues.

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