Sunday, November 21, 2010

How Silicon Valley Journalists Talk About Independence in Innovation Coverage

Innovation Journalism Vol. 7 No. 6,  20 Nov 2010

By Kirsten Mogensen and David Nordfors

http://www.innovationjournalism.org/archive/INJO-7-6.pdf

Silicon Valley has become known for innovations that have led to substantial changes for citizens around the world. In 1960s’-80s’ the innovation had to do with computers and electronics, 1990s-00s’ it was on Internet and Web services. Since the later part of the 00’s, clean tech has emerged as a keyword. The valley culture is known to stress the value of trust-based personal contacts. This applies also to journalists and their access to sources. This article discusses how this relates to traditional journalism norms that stress journalists’ independence from sources. Based on explorative, semi-structured interviews with journalists who cover the innovation economy in Silicon Valley, the article seeks to understand the professional challenges the network structure create for journalists and the strategies they apply. Comparing the results with previous research in journalism norms, this study suggests that as access to powerful sources becomes scarce and controlled journalists tend to be more innovative and diverse in shaping professional norms to balance access to sources with their readers’ mandate. The continued development of this diversity of norms, and its impact on society needs to be further explored.

Key words: Journalism practice, innovation, journalism ethics, qualitative interviews, Silicon Valley, ecosystem.

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