Given the changing nature of today’s journalism industry, the words “innovation journalism” seem to suggest transformations in the field of journalism itself.
But a collaborative effort between Stanford and a Pakistani television network has proven that it is just as important to study “innovation journalism” in and of itself — that is, journalism focusing on innovations in technology, science, business and even politics.
Now, the result of the partnership between the VINNOVA-Stanford Research Center of Innovation Journalism (InJo) and Pakistan-based SAMAA TV is the “Innovation” television series, which came to fruition through collaborative efforts between David Nordfors, InJo’s founding executive director, and Amir Jahangir, SAMAA TV’s CEO.
Jahangir became involved with the InJo Center in 2006 and currently sits on one of its advisory boards. He began to serve as SAMAA TV’s CEO in 2008 and soon after decided to run a program on innovation journalism in collaboration with Stanford. The program was broadcast in Pakistan and recently received the 2009 “Brand of the Year” Award for highlighting innovation in modern Pakistani society.
The award, given by the Pakistani government and other agencies, measured consumer votes and an expert panel vote for more than 500 innovation brands. “Innovation” was the first media product to win this honor. SAMAA TV and InJo will accept the award from Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in February.
The television series was lauded for informing its audience about new innovations such as mobile banking. It also featured innovation journalism itself, examining how the coverage of new innovations can affect a country’s socio-economic development.
Nordfors believes the collaboration’s success is an indicator of a healthy future for innovation journalism. Once a quantum molecular physicist in Sweden, Nordfors changed his career path and decided to concentrate on innovation coverage in media and how it can shape a changing society.
“In the early nineties, some journalists didn’t know the difference between e-mail and the Internet,” he said. “But if they could understand it, they could pass it on to others. I became more interested in how knowledge affects society than in the new knowledge itself.”
Nordfors said coined the term “innovation journalism” in 2003 when it was “an unused expression with zero Google hits.”
“Journalism about innovation is not new, but it has not been considered a genre until now. Without a name it is not possible to discuss best practice,” Nordfors wrote in an e-mail to The Daily.
He noted that “innovation” was strictly considered to be a “tech” or business term in the past; people did not examine the concept of innovation in other areas of society. However, that custom has changed in recent years.
Currently, the InJo Center has initiatives in Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, Mexico, Pakistan, the European Union and Israel, and the center is constantly looking to expand.
“This is relatively new,” said Nordfors of the success in Pakistan. “[SAMAA TV] embraced the concept of innovation journalism and made it happen, and they made it happen in Pakistan.”