The Journalistic Connection

the journalistic ConnectionSchultz-Jørgensen, Søren and Westergård, Per (2018): Den journalistiske forbindelse. Sådan genopfinder nyhedsmediet sin relation til borgerne – og sin relevans for demokratiet. Gyldendal Business, 1. E-book edition.

What does the future look like – and behold – for the news media industry? The authors spent a year talking to innovative news media in order to establish a new type of journalist that can save the news media in the long term.

The book is called “The Journalistic Connection” and it exames how to reinstate journalism as a valuable tool for the democracy and the general public.

A new role for the journalist

They name this new type of journalist “the engaging journalist” and he/she are characterized by engaging citizens by using many well known tools such as campaign journalism, constructive journalism, and citizen journalism.

Through interviews and visits to more than 80 different media outlets, primarily in US and in Europe, they have discovered what they call a way to save news journalism from itself.

The authors conclude that there is a need for listening and including the users when innovating new types of media and also, that journalists need to be collecting data in order to improve their reporting.

Like Pierre Collignon in his book “Tilbage til virkeligheden”, Westergård and Schultz-Jørgensen believe that the omnibus newspaper is dead and so is the idea of the objective journalist. In order to avoid being irrelevant and snobbish, the journalists today must include the citizens both in the idea faze, the fact finding stages, sometimes in reporting and also after the actual articles in commentaries or further development.

Journalism as a business

“The Journalistic Connection” also considers what competences in the journalistic toolbox we are in need of, mainly through describing experiments at established news media such as a social media projects with Snapchat and a large innovation process with design thinking as a method.

In addition, the authors look at the need for a three-legged approach to income for media outlets that besides the actual product include events and loyalty programmes.

A few times, the book discusses the harsh working environments for journalists, the pressure to produce three times as many news stories per day and the lack of in-depth-reporting as a result.

However, the authors have mainly focused on news journalism and newsroom innovation, not including the other types of media such as B2B media and niche media, challenges within small language areas and a growing public service sector.

A new type of journalist

The role of the journalist today has expanded greatly, and on the list of tasks of the modern journalist are titles such as “community organizer, teacher (…) mediator and intermediary”. One could add graphic designer, salesman, data-analyser, UX-designer, crowd funder, and much more.

When it comes to educating this new type of journalist – the engaging journalist – the authors mention fellowship at educational institutions such as Harvard University and the new Danish Institute for Constructive Journalism. But how are today’s large group of journalists supposed to take the leap? This will be especially difficult because of the conservatism within the industry:

“The many surveys of the journalists own view on their trade and the future show that there is a lack of engagement and involvement. And do you ask the industry heads, their greatest concern is that they have a hard time getting their employees to “share and take in new ideas, techniques and strategies” according to a survey from the media leaders in a report from the organisation WAN-IFRA from 2017”. (page 240)


* note: all translations are my own.