The Relational Newsroom: An Appreciative Inquiry into how Leadership Empowers Learning in Newsrooms
The field of journalism in New Zealand has gone through significant changes in the last few years, with the onset of digital technologies, their impact on the funding of journalism and on readership, and in turn on the way journalism is performed. Therefore, the aim of this study is to understand how leadership empowers learning in newsrooms and, in turn, contributes to the training and development of journalists. The intent here is to contribute to the constantly evolving field of journalism as it deals with the digital changes driving what is arguably the most concentrated period of change in its history. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) has typically been used in organisations to manifest positive change for people. However, for this study I have creatively adapted and applied the Appreciative Inquiry framework to situate qualitative research methods inside three newsrooms in New Zealand. Focus groups in each newsroom were comprised of individuals from different hierarchical levels of the workplace. As the lead researcher I led the groups who operated as co-researchers following the AI process of four phases comprising Discover, Dream, Design and Destiny seeking to understand how leadership empowers learning in newsrooms. The findings were initially drawn from an analysis of the themes which arose in the discussions. From the findings I use AI theory and adapt the AI process to propose a Relational Newsroom framework for use in newsrooms. By embedding newsroom groups constantly using the 4-D cycle of AI and involving the public in live interaction process with newsroom decision-making, the framework would generate practices of communication, trust, personal leadership and structure identified in the findings. This study concludes with proposals in the form of action statements for use in both news media and journalism school newsrooms to have journalists engaged and involved in creating the future of the field.