Embrace change to drive media innovation

By Jake Kreinberg

Professor and media critic Jay Rosen joined us to discuss why employees need to embrace change in order to build a culture of innovation.

Editor’s note: At a recent conference at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, we spoke with New York University associate professor and media critic Jay Rosen about how a company can build a culture of innovation. To hear other perspectives from the conference, click here.

How do media companies build a culture of innovation?

I taught a whole class (in spring 2015) on the future of The New York Times, and so we not only read the report, but we heard a lot from people at the Times, including people who had left the Times, about how that report kind of galvanized a sense of urgency at the Times.

And I think the reason that it did that, is that it was candid in explaining to people at the Times that they were actually falling behind. They were falling behind BuzzFeed and Vox and other digital companies in their ability to adapt and also in audience development.

And this idea that there could be others in journalism who are way ahead of what we’re doing? That struck Times people very hard, and it contributed to a sense of alarm. And I think up to that point, what had happened was that the institution talked a very good game about digital transformation, and it was clearly doing a lot in the digital area. And, you know, they have one of the best websites in the world, and they have maybe 20 times as many readers online as they had in print.

So it seemed like the transition was going well, but actually, a lot of people were still paying attention to the rhythms of print as the natural way of thinking. And they were, for example, regarding how many front-page stories they had as the best judge of whether they were doing good work.

And so a lot of habits had remained that weren’t necessarily very (inaudible) for the Times. So a culture of innovation is when you realize that it’s not going to stop. The change is not going to stop.

As we heard earlier today, there’s no point where stability is going to be reinstalled in the news business, and that it’s just going to be continuous reinvention all the time. That’s a culture of innovation.

Jake Kreinberg

Jake is the text and multimedia product manager at The Associated Press and the former editor of Insights. He previously covered college sports as a reporter for AP and helped design its multi-year strategic plan. Have feedback about the blog? Contact us at insights@ap.org.

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