Stanford University: H-STAR: Human Science & Technologies Advanced Research Institute

Mogensen, K. (Participant)

    Activity: OtherOther (prizes, external teaching and other activities) - Period visiting other institutions


    Innovation Journalism research . Official faculty host is Professor Fred Turner, Deparment of Communications. Briefly about the project: Research collaboration with David Nordfors, co-founder and executive director of the VINNOVA Stanford Research Center of Innovation Journalism, and other scholars connected to the center. Research topics of main interest: 1) How journalism manages to cover innovation processes and ecosystems 2) Professional norms and principles of innovation journalism. The purpose and scientific focus of the research project Based on semi-structured interviews with editors and journalists and on analysis of the actual coverage, I will describe a pattern of professional norms, values and visions related to innovation journalism. Such a description can serve as a point of reference for scholars, for new journalists entering the discipline and for the ongoing development of new tools and techniques related to innovative journalism. I have previously described a similar pattern of professional norms related to the coverage of ongoing terror attacks, and as a meta-norm theory in both research projects, I use Alf Ross’ “Directives and Norms” (1968). To build a world community based on democratic principles, we need to re-create the public trust and support in the innovation process, and this requires trustworthy coverage by the news media. The innovation process will benefit from public engagement and discussions, even though researchers and politicians often find it easier to work in secrecy. The role of journalism cannot be replaced by other forms of communication such as public relations and advertising because these are not impartial. “Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy” (SPJ Code of Ethics). The motivation for applying for the “Visiting Scholarship Hearing David Nordfors talk about innovation journalism at a June meeting in Copenhagen stirred in me the impulse to conduct my own investigations of these exciting developments in journalism. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Commission on Freedom of the Press described a social responsible philosophy for news media in national democracies where there were few media and shortage of information. This philosophy and its related norms dominated the news industry for more than 60 years. The internet changed the context of journalism and created a serious need to rethink what we mean today by responsible journalism in a way that permits the news media to contribute to the success of the global democratic information society +2010. The present innovation ecosystem cannot survive without the freedom that democracies offer, and history has shown that innovation systems in authoritarian societies may produce illiberal outcomes. According to liberal thinking, a society develops best if ideas are freely exchanged. In accordance with this philosophy, the news media play important roles in collecting and distributing ideas, setting the agenda and providing forums for discussion. However, while we are fighting for democratic values around the world, in Western societies we may already be on our way to a post democratic egalitarian form of society because of the lack of public involvement in the innovation processes. Research has indicated a growing gap between the news agenda and the agenda of the rest of the innovation system. All stakeholders in the innovation system suffer from this development. The innovation economy suffers because when the news media do not provide their readers, listeners and viewers with relevant information, then the public loses interest in the news, and the economy does not benefit from a diversity of ideas and public scrutiny and debate. Democracy suffers when the public feels alienated and its members lose interest in the democratic processes. If we want democracies to survive as such, a pressing need mandates that news media return to their central role in the innovation process. As documented in previous research, journalism has historically played a constitutive role in formation of societies such as the American society. The challenge of our time is to help create a democratic world society. This, however, must be done in such a way that we make maximum use of the technical innovations and the political situation in the 21st Century, and for that reason we need to develop a new philosophy of social responsibility to match the new conditions. The relevance of collaboration with a Stanford counterpart I will need to interview a substantial number of editors and journalists who cooperate with VINNOVA Stanford Research Center of Innovation Journalism and to discuss central issues with scholars at the center. The suggested research project makes sense only in collaboration with Stanford. The newest thinking and discussions in the field of innovation journalism take place at the center, and new professional tools and techniques are tested by the news media collaborating with the center. We need to find ways to develop journalism so that it will play its part in the innovation economy in the 21st Century. For most journalists, ongoing innovation processes seem difficult to cover for various reasons, two in particular: • Journalists prefer to cover facts and to a lesser degree visions. • The business community and the researchers at the universities prefer to have control over the information and usually are not willing to allow the public into the process. To play their role in the innovation ecosystem, journalists may need to develop a new journalism philosophy, techniques and tools such as those previously developed and used by investigative reporters. Potential for future collaboration I intend to collaborate with scholars and journalists connected to the VINNOVA Stanford in the years to come. The collaboration may result in professional experiments, papers, conferences and workshops. This semester some of my students collected empirical evidence from experiments with innovation journalism at the daily newspaper Information. However, if innovation journalism is to develop into more than curious experiments, researchers around the world must collaborate, and I hope to create a network of people with whom I can continue to work for several years. An up-to-date role of journalism will benefit the society as a whole, including the research community, politicians, citizens and the news media themselves. The question is what this new model will look like since it is in itself a product of the innovation processes and for that same reason it will benefit from the free exchange of ideas. My general intention is to contribute to a journalism science about factors influencing the professional practice of the most respected journalists when they either cover unusual events or when they explore new ways of practice such as the innovation journalism described by Nordfors and other researchers connected to VINNOVA.
    Period1 Feb 2010 - 15 Jun 2010