News-Industry Responses to Innovation Stimulus: voices from the Danish periphery

Aske Kammer

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When the Danish Parliament revised the media-subsidy framework in 2013/2014, one of the new initiatives was the introduction of a pool of funding earmarked to establishing and developing new news media – the so-called “innovation fund”. So, as the news industry struggles to keep journalism a viable and economically sustainable activity, the institutionalization of financial support for media innovation constitute one way for policy makers to bring (parts of) the journalistic environment up-to-date with the digital age, thereby improving the conditions for an informed citizenry in the future (Kammer, 2017). This paper examines how the news industry responds to the entrance of such a “stimulus package” for media innovation, analyzing how the actors that apply for innovation subsidies present what they (want to) do as innovative. So, this paper presents an empirical study of all applications for innovation subsidies in 2014 and 2015 (i.e., the first two years of the subsidy framework; n=149) as well as all notifications of acceptance/rejection. This empirical material was been obtained through administrative transfer of information between different branches of government. The paper asks what is considered “innovation” in the applications for innovation subsidies, examining how the (periphery of the) news industry understands what constitutes new ways for the news media. This way, we measure the effect of the policy framework on the actions of the actors who are potentially affected by the framework. The concept of media innovation is notoriously slippery (Storsul & Krumsvik, 2013; Trappel, 2015), but on the basis of earlier studies of innovative news-media firms (e.g., Bruno & Nielsen, 2012; Carlson & Usher, 2016), we hypothesize ways to reach economic sustainability to be a central point of interest in the applicants’ discursive presentation of their own innovation. Methodologically, the paper applies content analysis to identify quantitative patterns in (qualitative) readings of the applications, aiming at mapping how the actors affected by the legislation react to it and what the passing of the legislation trigger in the news industry. As the analysis is still on-going at the time of writing this abstract, there is, unfortunately, no results to report yet. The analysis will be finished in January, 2017. While the study will generate new knowledge about which ideas the news industry has for innovating its practices, the study and the phenomenon it research-es will likely also impact policy decisions across Europe: in Denmark, the media-subsidy framework will be renegotiated in 2017, allowing lessons from the 2014 and 2015 applications to inform the political decisions, and in, for example, Switzerland, a framework for innovation subsidies alike the Danish one is being considered.


KonferenceThe 2017 European Media Management Association conference