Innovation at newspapers

Long, interesting post from Jay Small on innovation. He gives a good outline about how to set up an innovation process, but while building fully-formed products is an important aspect of innovation, there are also lots of small things newspapers can do to be disruptive in their markets. Not everything is a project. Further, there isn’t a single that has done all it can to be the best it can be. There are many, many good ones, but none is yet hitting all its marks. Look around at the best practices — video, blogging, databases, calendars, sharing, participation, etc. — and figure out how you can make your site better and more relevant to your local audience.

Innovation is important, but don’t become so obsessed with innovation that you forget the fundamentals.  And if you can’t get the funding to innovate the way you dream about, think about what you can do, and do it. There are a lot of smart people in our industry coming up with good ideas.  Find out what’s working and what you can copy. It’s often easier to get a publisher to buy into a project that is a proven success. Maybe your contribution, your innovation, will be to make a good idea better.

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4 thoughts on “Innovation at newspapers

  1. “It’s often easier to get a publisher to buy into a project that is a proven success.”

    I’d say it’s ALWAYS easier to get a publisher to buy into a proven success. It’s that “proven success” part that’s hard to achieve without a process, mindset and resources for innovation.

    That said, you’re right, nothing about what I wrote should be interpreted to mean people can’t implement their own ideas in everyday work, and make the outcome better.

    My focus was more on innovation at a project scale, which is still not something our industry does well.

  2. My language was fuzzy, but I think we essentially agree.

    Also, I wasn’t clear, maybe, that I get your purpose in the post — but I’m also responding to what I’m seeing is a tendency to take up the flag of innovation, and if you can’t afford the pole, then sit and wait rather than wave the flag without a pole.

  3. The Economist are actually setting up a team with the sole aim of innovation. At the Economist we found that perhaps the only way to get innovation flowing was to pack people up and send them away to a small room far away to do it. The Economist calls it

  4. Stewart, I saw some other write-ups of The Economist project, and it sounds fascinating. Well-funded, too, which maybe gets to Howard’s point.

    I wish I had a better answer for the potential innovators who feel boxed into continuing operations, but whose companies don’t provide a clear path for innovative ideas on slmost any scale.

    I think we have a lot of MacGyvers out there — people who push out innovations born from whatever resources they had available. I just wish they didn’t always have to work that way.

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