The uses of spaghetti:
how to make people think in
newsrooms
George Brock
City University London
World Editors Forum
Turin...
Everyone talks about “throwing
spaghetti at the wall”
• …to see which bits stick
• Fewer people ask what kind of spaghetti...
Journalists don’t like experiments
• Failure isn’t seen as useful
• In experiment, failure is often educational and
illumi...
10 ways to throw spaghetti
1. Distinguish between innovation and
experiment
2. Get outsiders inside: use anthropologists,
...
High grade spaghetti 5 - 9
5. Make people read books
6. Set up a “best failure” award
7. Demote/fire people not prepared t...
Item 10
10.You can’t judge
experiments if you
haven’t fixed what
success looks like (aka
what you believe in)
www.georgebrock.net @georgeprof
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Throwing spaghetti at the wall: how to make people think in newsrooms

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Throwing spaghetti at the wall: how to make people think in newsrooms

  1. 1. The uses of spaghetti: how to make people think in newsrooms George Brock City University London World Editors Forum Turin, June 2014
  2. 2. Everyone talks about “throwing spaghetti at the wall” • …to see which bits stick • Fewer people ask what kind of spaghetti you use • What sort of sauce sticks best • What recipe ensures that the largest number of pieces stick to the wall • In short, you need to care about the quality of experiment as well as the quantity
  3. 3. Journalists don’t like experiments • Failure isn’t seen as useful • In experiment, failure is often educational and illuminating • Media businesses become operations companies • Today’s deadline and emergencies take precedence over exploration of the future • Journalism is seen as a mission and a vocation: heresy is punished (by other journalists) • Ordered to “innovate” or “think outside the box”, people (usually) freeze. • The “box” isn’t there any more
  4. 4. 10 ways to throw spaghetti 1. Distinguish between innovation and experiment 2. Get outsiders inside: use anthropologists, technologists, inventors 3. Gather data relentlessly; get the best brains to use it well 4. Evaluate fads; don’t chase them
  5. 5. High grade spaghetti 5 - 9 5. Make people read books 6. Set up a “best failure” award 7. Demote/fire people not prepared to have the newsroom be a laboratory 8. Drive it from the top 9. Check: why should anyone see value in this (given what they kind find out in an idle moment with their thumb)?
  6. 6. Item 10 10.You can’t judge experiments if you haven’t fixed what success looks like (aka what you believe in)
  7. 7. www.georgebrock.net @georgeprof

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