Richard Gingras says that at this moment in journalism, “transformation” is a four letter word.
Gingras, the head of news and social products for Google, spoke to a group of journalism professors at this year’s Scripps Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute event at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fifteen instructors from around the United States came to Phoenix to “learn principles of journalism entrepreneurship.”
Gingras stressed that old models for revenue, content and storytelling need to be completely rethought, rather than merely transformed, in order for the news business to thrive in the digital age.
“As long as one thinks transformationally, you limit your capabilities because you limit yourself,” he said. “… It doesn’t work. Worse than not working, it becomes self defeating. … We really do need to rethink everything.”
Rather than focusing on transformation, he said, journalists should be focused on invention.
An example of that thinking is the lack of innovation when it comes to story pages online: “It stuns me that 15 years in we’re still seeing story architectures mimicking the traditional architecture of print,” he said.
Instead, he told the professors to encourage journalism students to develop ideas, products and companies that operate with “zero baggage.” “We owe it to ourselves, to the importance of our journalistic mission, to consider all opportunities,” he said.