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Journalist Fellows' Papers

How to Lead Innovation and Still Keep the Newsroom Working

Reuters Institute Fellow's Paper

Ville Seuri, an assistant chief subeditor for the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, has re-visited the thorny challenge for newsroom managers of ‘How to Lead Innovation and Still Keep the Newsroom Working’, as his research paper is called.

Aimed especially at middle-tier managers, Ville’s paper concludes with a very helpful list of six lessons from his interviews, including an emphasis on communication skills most journalists probably never had: "Being innovative and effective at the same time does not work without having clear goals, and even the clearest of goals don’t work if they are not communicated effectively.

Moreover, it is not enough that vertical communication works, newsroom managers will have to make sure communication also functions horizontally. Here’s how Ville describes his research: "News organisations around the world are struggling to reinvent themselves in the rapidly changing digital environment, and innovation is of utmost importance in this process. Nevertheless, for most news organisations the main source of revenue still is their legacy business, and this fact may have dire consequences for innovation."

Managing innovation and managing the legacy business are not easily combined. "In this research paper I set out to find out how newsroom managers try to combine these two very different tasks in their everyday work. Talking to editors from three British news organisations and referring to scholarship on management of innovation and creativity I was able to find out not only how a legacy mindset can tie down innovation, but also how this problem can be overcome. I hope my paper will be of use to any editor working in a legacy newsroom, and I wish the reader will find the views put forward by my interviewees as interesting and enlightening as I found them myself."

As with all Fellows’ research papers, any opinions expressed are those of the author and not of the Institute.