Media innovation is all around us in the form of new genres, new products, and new platforms. But how can we understand these innovations? This chapter provides a theoretical exploration of the concept of media innovation and presents three steps to analyse them. It helps us understand what media innovations are, what is new about them, and what makes them possible.
Innovation is about change. Media products and services are changing. The processes of production and distribution of media are changing. The ownership and financing of media are changing. The roles of users are changing. And our ideas of media are changing. This chapter introduces media innovation as a research area, and provides a three-step model for analysing and developing media innovations.
In order to understand and explain current developments in the media landscape, we first have to ask ‘what is changing?’. We propose that media innovations are related to (1) product innovation, (2) process innovation, (3) position innovation, (4) paradigmatic innovation, (5) genre innovation, and (6) social innovation. The second step is to ask ‘what is the degree of novelty?’. Finally, the third step is to identify and understand key influences on innovation in the media. This three-step approach will be useful for scholars as well as practitioners, in analysing and developing media innovations.
Media researchers have always been concerned with media change – with new media, new genres, and new ways of using media. Researching new media developments, their political, cultural, and economic contexts, new formats and new forms of user involvement are important issues in media research. This concern with new media has, to a great extent, not been grounded in explicit theoretical considerations about innovation. The field of media studies has been dominated by the overarching traditions of political economy and cultural studies, and this has prompted a heated debate as to whether ‘the economic determinants at work’ or ‘the cultural discourses at play’ should be given the explanatory emphasis (Cottle, 2003; Ytreberg, 1999).
A key contribution from the emerging research arena of media innovation studies is to offer a broader perspective, and provide new insights into and greater knowledge about what characterizes media innovation, how media innovation develops, what structural conditions facilitate and shape innovation, and what the current trends in product development and user involvement are (Storsul & Krumsvik, 2013; Sylvie, 2014).