Reconsidering the gospel of innovation

So I’ve let this site sit in mothballs for awhile, but have a couple of quick publications to share from this year. Anthony Nadler and I spent most of 2016 reading reports from journalism think tanks, tracing a discourse we came to call “innovation advocacy,” questioning its consequences and contradictions, and the specific vision it articulates to the field of journalism. It has resonated more with other researchers than I thought it would; I often imagine this work as a kind of voice in the wilderness, trying to bring technology back into the purview of more discourse focused cultural studies and political economy critique. 

Anyhow, available here, for those interested. Pay-walled, be in touch for a copy:


As US news organizations have faced twin crises in funding and authority in recent years, innovation has become a key concept and ideal driving many interventions aimed at saving journalism. Often, ahistorically and uncritically deployed notions of innovation elide questions of digital journalism’s democratic aspirations in favor of market-oriented solutions. To critically examine the discourse around innovation, this article interrogates documents produced by think tanks and non-profit institutes researching the future of journalism: the Knight Foundation, the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, Harvard’s Nieman Foundation, and the Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, among others. A post-industrial vision for journalism emerges with an overriding and celebratory focus on innovation. We argue that this discourse marginalizes normative concerns about journalism’s democratic purpose and rests on an entrepreneurial logic that seeks to dictate digital journalism’s broader public virtues.

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