World Association of News Publishers

Trends in Newsrooms #3: Media Labs

Trends in Newsrooms #3: Media Labs


  • For non-members: Free EUR
  • For WAN-IFRA members: Free


Note: The report is free to download here.

This report is the third of the 2019 series covering Trends in Newsrooms.

It reflects the increasing establishment of media labs, worldwide, to help solve some of the pressing problems facing newsrooms and media organisations.

It will provide guidance to anyone considering setting up a lab and an insight into some of the outputs achieved.

The report is based on four years of research on Media Labs conducted by a range of partners. Supported by WAN-IFRA’s Global Alliance for Media Innovation, this investigation was produced by a core research team from Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Since 2015, the research team has interviewed over 40 labs and studied their practices, outputs and motivations through observation. These approaches have provided a rich stream of data to allow the research to better understand day-to-day practices, strategic motivations and metrics.

The research identified active labs in 29 countries but there is a geographic bias with a heavy concentration in North America (United States and Canada) and Europe.

The last decade has seen media labs emerge as a hub of experimentation and innovation. They have been created to build new products and services, to trial new ways of working and training, and to tackle the challenges arising from industry-wide digital transformation.

But the idea isn’t new.

‘Labs’ – as a centre of knowledge creation – have existed across multiple sectors for decades, and in some instances – centuries. Now, journalism is making the construct its own to help fuel innovation and meet the challenges of a sector that has experienced a significant and sustained period of flux.

Media labs exist within news publishers such as the Wall Street Journal, Deutsche Welle and the BBC, and are now a global presence. They span every continent. Sometimes located within publishers, sometimes not. For example, Ubilab and OjoLab in Latin America; The Lenfest Local Lab and NJ Mobile News Lab in North America; Media Lab Bayern and Stibo Accelerator in Europe and in Asia, Australasia and Africa Asahi Shimbun Media Lab and Mediati.

But no lab is the same. ‘Media labs’ exist in many
different forms as well as places.

They tend to focus on three broad issues: developing and innovating products, practice and people. Labs tackle these themes in multiple ways.

Note: The report is free to download here.

WPT/WEF Trends Report
Ana Cecilia Bisso Nunes, John Mills
Cooperating Institutes:
WAN-IFRA’s Global Alliance for Media Innovation, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)


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2019-11-18 11:58

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