Capturing Digital News Innovation Research in Organizations, 1990–2018

Valerie Belair-Gagnon, Allison J. Steinke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Journalism scholars have acknowledged the importance of innovation in journalism. A common finding is that journalism has difficulty adapting to change and uses multiple coping mechanisms, including making excuses for not innovating by relying on their professional norms and practices. However, such research does not more broadly show how journalism studies research has shaped what scholars have learned about innovation practices. The goal of this study is to provide a systematic literature review of news innovation research since the 1990s. This article deploys a qualitative content analysis of peer-reviewed journal articles about news innovation in media and journalism studies. It shows that journalism and media scholars discuss news innovation as normative, participative, and experimentative. Journalism studies scholarship has also focused on innovation as a process, integrating elements of audience engagement, structure, system, and network. The goal of this study is twofold. First, it discusses the methodological and conceptual/theoretical approaches taken in scholarly journal articles about news innovation. Second, it outlines limitations of such approaches and draws conclusions to conceptualize knowledge in this subfield of research. It argues that it is important to take into account those limitations, as they pose problems for the cumulative nature of news innovation research knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1724-1743
Number of pages20
JournalJournalism Studies
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks to the editors and reviewers for their thoughtful advice. We would like to thank Kimberly Clarke at the University of Minnesota Libraries (Twin Cities) who helped with the original sampling. We are also grateful to Drs. Colin Agur, Sid Bedingfield, Elisia Cohen, Avery E. Holton, Rebekah Nagler, Amy O’Connor, Hyejoon Rim, Claire Seijin, Christopher Terry, and Benjamin Toff as well as participants at the Cardiff Future of Journalism Conference for their helpful feedback.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Innovation
  • digital journalism
  • journalism
  • literature review
  • news
  • sociology of news


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