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Digital news media innovate through fighting disinformation – study

MANILA, Philippines – A study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford found that digital-born news media in the Global South are fighting disinformation in ways that others have been unable to do. (READ: Newsrooms told: Stop obsessing about 'bright, shiny things')

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The study, titled "Lessons in Innovation: How International News Organisations Combat Disinformation through Mission-Driven Journalism," was published in April as part of the Journalism Innovation Project of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.


It observed 3 newsrooms: Rappler in the Philippines, the Daily Maverick in South Africa, and The Quint in India. All 3 are digital-born mobile-first newsrooms that were founded in the past decade and have built a significant audience on their websites and social media platforms.


These newsrooms, the study said, combine a sense of mission and a commitment to journalistic values with finding new ways to counter disinformation.


"Through their constantly evolving response to rapidly developing problems of disinformation, all of the organizations studied are acquiring new knowledge and skills that can power their public interest journalism and community engagement more broadly in the digital age," the study said.


This is done by building trust with their audience and also developing a deeper appreciation for the role of press freedom in society.


Fighting disinformation could also create new revenue streams for newsrooms, as it sets them apart from other news media. It could compel audiences to sign up for possible memberships and it opens up possibilities for consultancy services to other businesses.


The study presented 9 key lessons from these newsrooms:


A clear mission helps focus innovation.

Mission-driven journalism may divide audiences, but it is not the same as partisanship.

Ability to ‘pivot’ in response to a crisis is an innovation marker.

Audiences can be part of journalism innovation.

Reporting can fuel organizational innovation.

Innovation requires investment in new skills, tools, techniques, and training (no matter how limited resources are).

Innovation can be based on core values but also requires constant re-examination of whether a more fundamental shift is necessary.

Innovation needs to be shared across the whole news organization to avoid siloing.

With a clear mission, it is possible to do important, innovative journalism for a large audience even with limited resources.

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