Decision making under uncertainty and degree of innovativeness in media managament and media education
European Media Management Association anual conference
Content industries (information, opinion or culture) are among the most risk-exposed businesses in the world (Miege, 1989; Hesmondahl, 2007), due to a multitude of factors that range from audience tastes to competitors’ offers. Social, political and economic pressures on media managers are increased, in the case of journalism, by stakeholders’ competing interests: audiences, advertisers and government representatives (be them politicians, religious or military leaders). In some countries, the pressures on newsrooms are on the rise, yet in others, the pressures are unbearable (see RSF, 2018). Media managers have to take decisions under uncertainty regarding business models, editorial lines, adoption of innovative solutions (i.e. purchase of hardware and software), and employee training. Journalists themselves have to decide what subjects to cover and what resources to use in their work. Some of these media managers and journalists assume what ethicists identify as ”supererogatory tasks”. Thus, newsrooms and freelancers, in different parts of the world, decide to go to excessive lengths in their activities, reporting on powerful politicians and businesses, and adopting time-consuming methods, such as data visualization or narrative journalism, to present information in a more appealing ways for their public. Similar decision-making processes happen also in journalism schools: How does the future of journalism looks like? What should we train our students in? What resources should we deploy, in order to stay relevant? A team of journalism researchers in four countries (Germany, Hungary, Portugal and Romania) interviewed, in the first half of 2018, 25 journalism educators and 21 leading journalists and reviewed the curricula of 24 selected journalism programmes at public and private universities. Their aim was to assess how the academia and the leaders of the industry see the future of journalism regarding media ethics, media management, collaborative journalism and data journalism and visualisation and how this influences their actions. The results of the research (Author, 2018) are used to identify factors affecting degree of innovativeness and decision-making under uncertainty, in journalism and in journalism schools. Rogers (2010) indicates five innovation attributes that are important in the diffusion process: relative advantage (incl. social status and satisfaction); compatibility with values, past experience and needs; complexity; triability and observability. We will discuss these attributes from the points of view of the industry and the academia in the four countries, indicating how a normative approach to journalism and the adoption of the most legitimate definition of journalism – a defender of democracy and of a free market – helps innovators and early adopters in decision-making processes. In addition, we will discuss how supererogatory acts (morally good, but not strictly required) may be understood in journalism and journalism education as the key of escalation of commitment, a bias (McCarthy, 1993) usually linked to business entrepreneurs. Innovators in media management and journalism feel the pressure to be the leaders of their fields, despite the lack of resources and the constant negative feedback from stakeholders, especially in small and/or poor markets. In journalism education, the main focus of innovators is to observe and analyse trends in the media, worldwide, in order to identify the most significant ones. All early adopters, in journalism and journalism education, value major public interest subjects, innovative manners to gather and to present data and time consuming ways to interact with audiences because this is, in their view, morally right. Stakeholders’ pressures and immediate financial survival, that guide their competitors in choosing business models, are less relevant for innovators in media management and journalism.
innovators,journalism,media management,journalism education,decision-making