In this article, we explore how entrepreneurial journalists from a wide variety of national contexts present ‘impact’ as one of the aims in their work. By exploring the variety, incongruences, and strategic considerations in the discourse on impact of those at the forefront of journalistic innovation, we provide a much-needed empirical account of the changing conceptualisation of what journalism is and what it is for.
Our data show how impact becomes an ideologically as well as strategically driven endeavour as the entrepreneurs try to carve out their niche and position themselves both in relation to traditional counterparts and other startups. Ultimately, we provide empirical insight into a number of tensions that remain underlying in the discourse on constructive journalism, an increasingly popular conceptualisation that refers to a future-oriented, solution-driven, active form of journalism. We show how our interviewees marry different, commonly-deemed incompatible practices and values, thus challenging binary distinctions at the heart of conceptualisations of journalism, also perpetuated in the discourse on constructive journalism.
As pioneers in the field, startups can be argued to inspire journalistic as well as social innovation, and furthermore push for a more inclusive understanding of the divergent conceptualisations and practices that together make up the amalgam that we call ‘journalism’.