How to make innovations in online newspapers succesful

In a new article soon to be published in the journal Journalism Studies (online version available  now), I argue that innovations in online newspapers are dependent upon five factors:

  1. Newsroom autonomy: Are innovative projects initiated and implemented within an autonomous newsroom and with relative autonomy within the online newsroom?
  2. Newsroom work culture: Does the online newsroom reproduce editorial gatekeeping or are alternative work cultures explored?
  3. The role of management: Is newsroom management able to secure stable routines for innovation?
  4. The relevance of new technology: Is new technology perceived as relevant, i.e. efficient and useful?
  5. Innovative individuals: Is innovation implemented and understood as part of the practice of journalism?

Here is the abstract of the article:

Findings in recent research suggest that online journalism is much less innovative than many researchers and scholars predicted a decade ago. Research into online journalism has, however, been biased towards a focus on online news journalism, thereby neglecting the magnitude of new styles and genres that are currently emerging online. In this paper the findings of a longitudinal ethnographic case study of the development of a section for feature journalism in the Norwegian online newspaper is presented. The study is framed by an understanding of innovation as a process where organizational structures and individual agency interact. The findings suggest that individual action has been downplayed in previous research as a determinant for processes of innovation in online newsrooms, and that a substantive grounded theory of innovation in online newspapers is comprised of five factors: newsroom autonomy, newsroom work culture, the role of management, the relevance of new technology and innovative individuals.

The article will be published in print in issue 10(6) – December 2009.


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3 Responses to “How to make innovations in online newspapers succesful”

  1. Article out in Journalism Studies « new journalism/new media Says:

    […] post is a further elaboration of a previous post on this […]

  2. judithannedavies Says:

    What about structural features such as copyright laws and bandwidth?


    • Steen Steensen Says:

      Good point. I would say that bandwith is a matter of the relevance of new technology-factor. A technological asset might be considered irrelevant because it would demand to much bandwidth by the end-user. This was for instance the case with online video at least until 2000. I guess it was not until Flash offered video streaming that online video really became popular in online newspapers. Flash does not require much bandwidth, and is therefore considered a relevant technology.

      Copyright legislation is off course a relevant factor, but I would say that it is one of many factors embedded in the newsroom work culture-factor. This factor, as I see it, embed all the standards, norms, practices, routines – and legislations – that a journalistic work culture adheres to.


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