Three Stages of Innovation in Participatory Journalism—Co-initiating, Co-sensing, and Co-creating News in the Chicago School Cuts Case

  • Taneli Heikka
  • Elias G. Carayannis


This article introduces a new way of thinking about innovation in the public sphere through the three collaborative steps of co-initiating, co-sensing, and co-creating news. We investigate a case of mediatized civic responses to public school closings in Chicago, Illinois to understand how participatory news production was initiated from outside the newsrooms and added value to the public debate. A network of civic activists analyzed and visualized data, reported live from school grounds, and developed networks and tools to challenge the local government’s narrative for the school closings. We argue that a limited understanding of the process of co-creation has confined the practice and analysis of collaboration between audiences and professional journalists in news production. Focusing on digital platforms and technologically capable individuals has ignored the majority of the public as potential news producers. Furthermore, we suggest that on the level playing field of contemporary innovation systems, professional journalists can be seen to be participating in the co-creation of journalism initiated by the civil society, challenging the conventional model of newsroom-led participatory journalism. Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings for innovation systems. We suggest that the fine-tuned steps of co-initiating, co-sensing, and co-creating innovations can help in developing the role of the media-based civil society in innovation systems. Applying these steps in practice can help in making the innovations emerging from these systems socially inclusive and sustainable.


Co-creation Dialogue Dialogic journalism Participatory journalism Innovation Innovation systems Quadruple Helix 



Taneli Heikka wishes to thank the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation for financing this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  2. 2.George Washington UniversityWashington, D.C.USA

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