Setrakian: Traditional media is often ‘allergic’ to experiments that drive innovation

If you are a journalism geek then you were probably a little moody if you couldn’t make it to ONA14 in Chicago this year.

Fortunately LOTS of resources were made available for those who couldn’t be there, both in video and audio.

Among the shiniest of gems was Start Up Your Newsroom: Building Your Culture, Your Team and Your Products, a workshop that included Senior Product Manager/Executive Editor Melissa Bell of Vox.com and Lara Setrakian of NewsDeeply.

Setrakian described traditional media as allergic to failures that often lead to innovation.

There has been frankly, let’s be honest, an allergic reaction to experimentation sometimes, an allergic reaction to spending money on experimentation sometimes and an incapacity to be flexible on design in some cases. And I think we saw it in the NYTimes innovation memo, there’s now a deep think happening around these organizations on how to change the culture in a way that allows for these creative ideas to arise.

Next came Bell, formerly of the Washington Post, who started with talk of “learning fast,” a phrase as welcome and present at startups as the word disruption.

Bell would go on to recommend to a questioner curious about internal innovation to start small, but first she said the following:

You have to be able to fail with ideas because you learn so much from the failures and then you’re able to grow and get better and then the next time around you will probably use some of the same ideas you had from the first idea but it’s going to be a lot stronger this time around.

And if you really encourage and forgive those failures you will have a much stronger culture to really be creative and really be exciting and insightful and I think this is something that is frightening I think for traditional media companies.

And I understand why.

We went through a massive change in the industry and it’s difficult. I mean any change or any idea is something that like there’s a lot riding on those things.

Watch or listen to the complete session here.

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Khari Johnson
Khari is founder and editor of Through the Cracks: Crowdfunding in Journalism. He also writes about bots and artificial intelligence for VentureBeat. He has built news startups in the U.S. and Europe for the last decade.

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