innovation, journalism and future

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The First major empirical study on innovation journalism. Contains also a theoretical development of the concept "innovation journalism" as part of the future work of society.


Innovation, Journalism and FutureFinal report of the research project Innovation Journalism in FinlandErkki Kauhanen, Elina Noppari Technology review 200 / 2007

Innovation, Journalism and FutureFinal report of the research project Innovation Journalism in FinlandErkki Kauhanen Elina Noppari

Journalism Research and Development Centre University of Tampere

Technology review 200/2007 Helsinki 2007

Tekes Your contact for Finnish Technology Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, is the main funding organisation for applied and industrial R&D in Finland. Funding is granted from the state budget. Tekes primary objective is to promote the competitiveness of Finnish industry and the service sector by technological means. Activities aim to diversify production structures, increase production and exports and create a foundation for employment and social well-being. In 2006, Tekes will finance applied and industrial R&D in Finland to the extent of 460 million euros. The Tekes network in Finland and overseas offers excellent channels for cooperation with Finnish companies, universities and research institutes. Technology programmes part of the innovation chain Tekes technology programmes are an essential part of the Finnish innovation system. These programmes have proved to be an effective form of cooperation and networking for companies, universities and research institutes for developing innovative products, processes and services. Technology programmes boost development in specific sectors of technology or industry, and the results of the research work are passed on to business systematically. The programmes also serve as excellent frameworks for international R&D cooperation.

Copyright Tekes 2007. All rights reserved. This publication includes materials protected under copyright law, the copyright for which is held by Tekes or a third party. The materials appearing in publications may not be used for commercial purposes. The contents of publications are the opinion of the writers and do not represent the official position of Tekes. Tekes bears no responsibility for any possible damages arising from their use. The original source must be mentioned when quoting from the materials.

ISSN 1239-758X ISBN 952-457-355-5 Cover and page layout: Teemu Helenius Printers: Painotalo Miktor, Helsinki 2007

How to read this report

This report consists of four major parts. Chapter 2 describes some theoretical development of the concept of innovation journalism. This was part of the commission from TEKES in 2005, and is also necessary in view of the pristine state of the international innovation journalism discussion. Innovation journalism is seen to be related to the current phase of development of innovation policies. It is proposed that media and its publicity are necessarily a crucial part of any policy that wishes to mobilize people into change of any kind. People cannot be walked blind into the change, however; in the process they must be seen as sovereign citizens whose innovativity and insight are respected in their own right. It is also suggested that if the central role of communication and media publicity in innovation economy is not seen, the economy cannot attain the best possible level of productivity. Chapters 3 and 4 present analyses of the empirical materials of this study. Chapter 3 looks at the innovation related content of a number of newspapers, magazines and two TV news programs. The material was collected in May-June 2005. The chapter also contains an analysis of the content of one newspaper over a period of six months in 2005 that has to do with the phenomenon of population ageing. We identify a powerful discourse that concentrates on the problems created by population

ageing mostly and fails to see the elderly people as the resource that they are. In Chapter 4 a number of journalists and innovators are interviewed to analyze their relation to journalism, innovation journalism and each other, plus those ideas, attitudes and practices that on each side of the table shape the innovation journalistic content of media. Chapter 5 presents an innovation journalistic pilot project carried out in the newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus in 2006 as a part of this study. The task was to see if innovation journalistic ideas, and especially the use of some methods borrowed from future researchers, can give some practical value added to a practicing journalist. The answer is briefly: yes. In Chapter 6 the conclusions of this study are presented. It is fashioned as a tour guide of sorts, so it is advisable to start reading this report there and only then either embark on the theoretical exercise of Chapter 2 or the empirical discussions of Chapters 3, 4 and 5. People interested in innovation policy issues or ready to ponder the role of journalism in society may find Chapter 2 interesting and either annoying or stimulating. Those who are interested in practical journalism only will probably find something of interest in Chapters 3 to 5. In Chapter 3 especially the section about representations of old age in media (3.12.) is very topical.

About the authors

Erkki Kauhanen is a biologist (M.Sc), media scholar (D.Soc.Sc.) and science journalist (journalist diploma from the Journalism School of Sanoma Corporation). His doctoral thesis1 in communication science was about the discursive mechanisms producing the image of science and technology in Finnish newspapers and also addressed issues like the epistemological battle for souls waged in the media between normal science and pathological science or pseudoscience. He has worked as a staff science journalist in the biggest national newspaper the Helsingin Sanomat and served as the Scandinavian correspondent for the biggest national afternoon paper the Ilta-Sanomat and as a staff science & culture journalist and later chief of science programs in the YLE, radio national Channel 1, etc. Currently he is an independent journalist in Espoo, Finland, and a regular science contributor to two of the most prestigious popular science and technology magazines in Finland, Tiede and Tekniikan Maailma. He is also a regular presenter of radio science programs in the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. His work appears frequently in several other media, too. During this research project in 20052006 he was a research fellow with the Journalism Research and Development Centre of the University of Tampere.

Elina Noppari (M.Soc.Sc., research fellow) is a reseacher in Journalism Research and Development Centre, University of Tampere. She is doing her postgraduate studies about changing media-use practices and has participated in several research projects concerned with innovative media services (e.g. mobile television) and their acceptance.


Kauhanen (1997): The River of Ink. Media Epistemology, Ontology and Imagology in the Light of Science, Pseudoscience and Technology Material in Six Major Finnish Newspapers in 1990. A Discourse Analytical Study.


This is the final report of the research project Innovation Journalism in Finland, 20052006. It was financed by TEKES2 and carried out in the Journalism Research and Development Centre of the University of Tampere3. The purpose of the study was to assess the state of innovation reporting in Finnish media. In the theoretical part of the study the concept of innovation journalism was analyzed and developed in view of the mainly European innovation policy discussion. In the study a large body of material of innovation-related items in several major Finnish newspapers and magazines and two TV channels in May-June 2005 was collected and a series of theme interviews was conducted with journalists and innovation entrepreneurs or other people in key positions in young innovative companies. The material was subjected to quantitative and qualitative content analysis. The theoretical analysis results in a more profound understanding of the concept of innovation journalism so that social, cultural and artistic innovations are also included. It is claimed that technological development and social/cultural development are only different aspects of same processes in society and neither can be understood separately. To mark this observation it is proposed in the report that instead of innovation policy, we should develop innovation society policy, which is innovation policy enriched with social and cultural concerns. In innovation society it is not enough to support technological innovations but structures to support social innovation activity are needed as well. This wider conception necessarily leads to abandoning of various linear models of innovation in favor of more complicated ones like the cascade model, where innovation is seen as a multi-layered cognitive structure with user innovations included. This theoretical movement shifts attention to the process of innovation diffusion, which is seen as a central but sadly neglected part of all innovation systems. It is claimed that all endogenous models are deficient descriptions of economy without a communication condition attached. This view highlights the role of media as one of the most important agents of the Future Work of society, a view that has deep implications both for the self-understanding of media and all attempts to create realistically functional innovation policies.

In the empirical part of the study among other things it is seen that the innovation-related content of the Finnish media is rich but suffers from several serious biases. One of these is huge hyper-emphasis on ICT. It results in under-representation of all other technologies and developments e.g. in the service sector, which, however, may be the key field in view of the future of the Finnish economy. Four different profile types in innovation reporting are identifi