New report: News organization culture shift essential to propelling innovation

Research identifies practical steps to advance newsroom transformation in the digital age

ARLINGTON, Va. (May 27, 2015) — A report released today by the American Press Institute sheds new light on how news organizations can foster the adoption of new tools, business models, storytelling and other forms of innovation.

Supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the report addresses one of the most confounding challenges for news organizations — the ability to innovate. Researchers conducted detailed interviews relying on human centered design, an approach that incorporates feedback from users when developing new ideas, so their needs are built into the innovation process. They also observed a wide variety of American news organizations to better understand the factors that either enable or stifle innovation.

The resulting report, A Culture-based Strategy For Creating Innovation In News Organizations, has surfaced new ideas about how news organizations can thrive in the digital age.

The main finding: Innovation is a product of culture. The report draws connections between an organization’s culture and its leadership, structure and internal processes, with even small changes having an effect on advancing innovative practices in newsrooms.

Using this new understanding, API is developing a new, customizable approach to help news organizations advance a cultural shift and innovate by improving their practices and overall structure.

“As API works to advance journalism innovation and apply new approaches, we see plenty of people out there offering new strategies, but far too little guidance about how to make them happen,” said Tom Rosenstiel, American Press Institute executive director. “This research takes a modern, human-centered approach to understanding how a news organization can effectively change its culture and reinvent its future.”

“In order to succeed and stay relevant in the digital age news organizations need to make innovation a part of their cultural DNA— this means constantly exploring new ways of storytelling with mobile and social media, identifying new products, understanding data and changing relationships with audiences,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. “The report offers news organizations a starting point in identifying these gaps and how to achieve the overdue digital transformation inside many legacy newsrooms.”

For more details about the findings, the research process, and how to get involved, please read:

About the American Press Institute

The American Press Institute conducts research, training, convenes thought leaders and creates tools to help chart a path ahead for journalism in the 21st century. The Press Institute is an educational non-advocacy 501(c)3 nonprofit organization affiliated with the Newspaper Association of America. It aims to help the news media, especially local publishers and newspaper media, advance in the digital age.

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About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

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Tom Rosenstiel, Executive Director, American Press Institute, 571-366-1035,

Jeff Sonderman, Deputy Director, American Press Institute, 571-366-1045,

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677,