Facing deep mediatization: innovation as the way forward

Thanks to digitalization, today we are faced with a new phase of mediatization, what Couldry and Hepp, in their book The mediated construction of reality (2017) call deep mediatization. Hepp and Hasebrink (2018) highlight five trends that characterize the media space in this new era: differentiation, connectivity, ubiquity, innovation, and datafication.

But how do these changes directly influence journalism? Kramp and Loosen (2018) follow Hepp and Hasebrink’s (2018) thinking and apply the above five trends to the media universe. Regarding differentiation, the authors relate it to the new media and also to the new communicative practices that guarantee the public new forms of interaction; regarding connectivity, in the journalistic field, it allows a stronger and more immediate connection between professionals and the public; omnipresence manifests itself in feedback and in audience contributions, which appear for example in comment spaces; innovation, which in journalism manifests itself at an increasing pace mainly in communication technologies; and datafication, from which it is possible to obtain audience behavior monitoring based on digital traces that are increasingly diverse and that reveal information about preferences, evaluation, and involvement.

All these trends show a changing media environment, with a greater focus on digitalization, which, according to Kramp and Loosen (2018), has enabled changes not only in news production but also in the practices of individual journalists and media organizations themselves. In essence, technological disruption has brought the media a battle between new opportunities and new challenges.

According to Santos Silva (2021), whenever the media finds itself in a period of uncertainty like the one we live in, there is an attempt to innovate, which arises as a necessity in the face of challenges. In the media field, Pavlik (2013) argues that innovation rests on four dimensions: creating, delivering and presenting quality news content; engaging the audience in an interactive news discourse; employing new reporting methods optimized for the digital age and networked society; and developing new management and organizational strategies for a digital, mobile and networked environment.

Already in the 1930s and 1940s, newspapers were challenged by radio and consequently spread the news in a more interpretive way while expanding photojournalistic coverage. In 1950, with the emergence of television, radio became more focused on music and sports reports (Gershon, 2013). More recently, as we entered the 21st century, newspapers and television were confronted with the Internet and mobile devices. And what is the solution?

In 2018, Gershon identified four obstacles to innovation: the tyranny of success, where there is a loss of a sense of urgency to create new opportunities, an organization culture that is too bureaucratic, unwieldy or clinging to the past, the poor quality of coordination teams and a pace of development that is too slow, and mostly a culture of risk aversion.

But even with the likelihood of risk, studies point out that innovation, in its various dimensions, can be a way to reestablish the role of journalism. García-Avilés (2021) states that innovation is an opportunity for sustainability, something that traditional media, with traditional routines, products and business models have taken a long time to understand. In particular, the studies reviewed on the impact of innovation on media sustainability suggest that a carefully designed and evidence-based innovation policy is a powerful tool to increase the journalistic and economic performance of organizations and consequently ensure their sustainability.

Bibliographic References

  • Couldry, N., & Hepp, A. (2017). The mediated construction of reality. Polity Press.
  • García-Avilés, J. A. (2021). Journalism innovation research, a diverse and flourishing field (2000-2020). Information Professionals (EPI), 30(1). Available at: https://revista.profesionaldelainformacion.com/index.php/EPI/article/view/86359/6 2908
  • Gershon, R. A. (2013). Digital media innovation and the Apple iPad: Three perspectives on the future of computer tablets and news delivery. Journal of Media Business Studies, 10(1), 41-61. Available at: https: //www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/16522354.2013.11073559?needAccess=true
  • Gershon, R. A. (2018). Three Strategic Approaches to Business Transformation. Handbook of media management and economics, 241.
  • Hepp, A., & Hasebrink, U. (2018). Researching transforming communications in times of deep mediatization: A figurational approach. In Communicative figurations (pp. 15-48). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
  • Kramp, L., & Loosen, W. (2018). The transformation of journalism: From changing newsroom cultures to a new communicative orientation? In Communicative Figurations (pp. 205- 239). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
  • Pavlik, J. V. (2013). Innovation and the future of journalism. Digital journalism. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/21670811.2012.756666?needAccess =true
  • Santos-Silva, D. (2021). Paradigmatic innovation in European cultural journalism: the pursuit of sustainability. The Journal of Media Innovations, 7(1), 95-108. Available at: https://journals.uio.no/TJMI/article/view/6523/7230