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New Motto for Journalism: Innovate or Die

In my earlier post below about the $6 million journalism school fortresses, I said let’s make journalism schools incubators for grassroots journalism ideas just as the J-Lab has for communities. The key paragraph in Mark Glaser’s MediaShift story, which includes parts of my earlier post, is:

So why not take the $6 million (Knight and Carnegie grant) and create real new-media incubator businesses? Stanford University helped create Yahoo and Google, but those companies didn’t come from the journalism school. Perhaps the journalism schools could team with computer programming departments to create hybrid sites that combine the best technology of sites such as Digg or YouTube with the editorial standards that come from journalism.

Think about it, what real earth shaking innovations have come out of journalism schools in the last 50 years? In the deans’ manifesto that I address in my earlier post, the deans from Harvard, Columbia, Berkeley, USC and Northwestern write:

Most significant advances in medical research and treatment emerge from schools of medicine, not doctors’ offices. There is no reason why significant advances in the means and methods of delivering news to the public ought not to emerge from professional schools of journalism, as much as from news organizations themselves.

That statement is right on, but it needs one addition. In addition to talking about “significant advances” they should also be talking about “significant innovations.” A place like MIT has all kinds of side projects where people fiddle with everything from making robots to building $100 computers. Why not emulate that model?

However, it is not just a journalism schools issue, it is the journalism industry mentality. All the big media companies should be giving million dollar grants to their most innovative young thinkers and sending teams of them off to garages to help develop the next big thing in journalism.

Not long ago playing off an American Journalism Review article I said the journalism industry motto should be: Adapt or Die. I want to amend that to: Innovate or Die.

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