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Journalism, Innovation & Datafication


Porlezza C.

Course director


News media are currently undergoing profound transformations. The impact of social media platforms, together with the ubiquity of mobile communication devices that produce a deluge of data, which in turn are analyzed by algorithms, shape the current news ecosystem and force journalism to adapt to phenomena like algorithmic recommendation systems, metrics, and automated content creation. The course first looanalyzingks into the nature of (big) data before analysing the interplay between platforms, algorithms and news media. The central part of the course discusses four different areas in news media and journalism where datafication occurs: observation, production, distribution, and consumption. The second part of the course focuses on news media innovation, in particular with regard to the way innovations influence the journalistic quality and thus the public in democratic societies.


The goal of the module is to advance the students’ understanding of how the news media are affected especially by datafication, and how they try to adapt to the transformations as well as the different social and technological challenges.

At the end of the course, students are able to:

  • understand the nature of (big) data,
  • describe how platforms and algorithms affect the production, distribution, and consumption of news,
  • describe the economic and ethical issues related to datafication,
  • discuss and define journalism innovation,
  • and, finally, understand how news start-ups become important change-agents in the current news ecosystem.

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

The course adopts a mix of ex-cathedra teaching, groupwork, interactive sessions, and student presentations.

Students’ class attendance is not mandatory, even if strongly encouraged. Teachers will not provide alternative teaching materials for non-attending students.

Examination information

  • The students will have to carry out an in-class presentation in the last session(s) of the course in which they transform ideas into new/improved products, services, or processes, in order to advance, compete and differentiate themselves successfully in their marketplace. In other words: they need to develop a specific innovation through the use of creative skills that allow a problem or need to be identified and to be solved through a solution that results in the introduction of something new that adds value to customers and to the media organization. The project does not have to be implemented, but the feasibility of the project will have to be demonstrated.
  • There will be a final oral exam on the different topics of the course. The date of the exam is to be determined and will be communicated by the Deanery.
  • The final mark for the course will be determined by the in-class presentation (30%) as well as the final oral exam (70%).
  • Both the presentation and the exam will be held in English.