Friday, September 21, 2007

Tekes: Journalism is vital to the innovation environment

Tekes, the National Finnish and Innovation Agency, published this story on 21 Sep 2007 (here):

Journalism is vital to the innovation environment

Soili Helminen 21.9.2007

In autumn 2003, when David Nordfors googled "Innovation Journalism", he got zero relevant results.

Instead, he got plenty of results concerning technology, science, and economy.

"I was interested in combining these fields from a journalistic perspective. I was actually quite surprised to learn that nobody had used the term innovation journalism before," says Nordfors, who has led the Innovation Journalism Program at Stanford University since 2004.

The program is financed by Vinnova, the Swedish Government Agency for Innovation Systems, but Nordfors created the concept himself and is full of enthusiasm.

"There is a wide gap between business and technology journalism. Often, one journalist would not even understand what the other was saying, and neither of them understood what innovations were all about," he says.

Innovation journalism seeks to combine economic, technological, and political journalism, and to represent innovation as the foundation for economic success. According to Nordfors, it is in the interests of every nation that journalists understand the function of an innovation ecosystem and are able to communicate it to people.

Active Finnish participation

The concept of innovation journalism has gradually started to flourish among both editors and researchers. Business reporter Jyrki Alkio, from the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, was the first Finn to participate in the Innovation Journalism Program in spring 2006. Postdoctoral researcher Turo Uskali, from the University of Jyväskylä, finished his one-year stay at Stanford in June.

"It was a unique experience to be involved in the creation of a new area of education and research. The content of the program is very similar to my view of how journalism should be developed, which had an impact on my motivation to go to Stanford," he says.

Uskali thinks that it is vital for journalism to experiment with new things, break boundaries, and cooperate with journalists from different countries and cultures. He received support for his visit from Tekes and the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation and says that he is happy to see how Finnish media companies and universities have joined the development of innovation journalism with great enthusiasm.

More than twenty Finnish researchers and journalists attended the Fourth Conference on Innovation Journalism organized at Stanford in May. The first in its field, the Finnish Society for Innovation Journalism was established in February 2007.

"It is wonderful to see how the concept is spreading in the world. Society cannot study and discuss the innovation system unless independent journalism tells us about it," Nordfors says.
Text: Anne Valta

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