Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Saving Journalism from Churnalism


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2014 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, ISSN 1559-8918.

In keeping pace with online trends, news is being churned out to meet quota and to satisfy website metrics. When putting out content becomes more important than it’s quality and value for the local community, it’s called Churnalism. Fortunately, ethnographic research reveals an alternative path. It tells us that news outlets hold a special place in the community due to their heritage and trusted position. Being relevant and valuable isn’t just about reporting news but being champions of passion topics and community matters. Journalism plays a part in the vibrant relationship people have with their city. Enroll local news people in ethnography and an innovation process means they can not only tap the epic stories of their city but also try out possibilities for them to break out of their traditional role.

Gordon Baty works for Gannett’s Center for Innovation and Design where he leads innovation research and product incubation projects with cross-functional teams across USA Today and Gannett’s local news properties. Prior to Gannett, Gordon worked at Marriott International and British Telecom where he led high profile digital design teams.