Tuesday, August 30, 2005

PAYING ATTENTION TO WEAK SIGNALS – THE KEY CONCEPT FOR INNOVATION JOURNALISM

Innovation Journalism Vol.2 No.11, Aug 30 2005

By Turo Uskali.

Business journalism often misses to predict major happenings and frequently plays a part in inflating economic bubbles. Journalism seems to lack good methods for handling “weak signals”, the first written signs or hints of a coming change - a key concept for future-oriented journalism. The author has shown in previous work on business news that weak signals are mainly detected at the end of the news stories and from reporters´ personal comments. Business news often allows no more than one scenario of the future per story, which is not sufficient for discussing weak signals. This tends to promote mainstreaming which can inflate bubbles. Innovation journalism is future-oriented and needs to discuss weak signals. The paper proposes some guidelines for innovation journalists on how to cover weak signals without repeating the mistakes of business journalism. Traditionally, scholars have looked for weak signals in news headlines. But news headlines mostly focus on strong signals. The paper proposes some future directions for weak signal research.

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