SACC-SF's first luncheon of the autumn took place on September 25th, with Mr. David Nordfors as speaker. The venue of choice was Urban Tavern – the latest culinary project courtesy of Christopher Condy and Laurent Manrique of C&L Partners, located in the heart of San Francisco.
The luncheon started with Pierre Johansson of Urban Tavern introducing the menu. The guests were served classic Swedish “Ärtsoppa” (pea soup) and pancakes with homemade punch to top off the feast.
After the introduction, the chairman of SACC-SF, Mr. Nils Welin took over and introduced the special luncheon speaker – Mr. David Nordfors.
Nordfors is a senior research scholar at Stanford University’s Center for Innovation in Learning. Credited with co-founding the Innovation Journalism Program at Stanford in 2005, he is still leading the program today. Nordfors also founded the Swedish Innovation Journalism Fellowship Program and is a Special Advisor to the Director General at VINNOVA, the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems.
His speech focused on the phenomena he has come to dub "Innovation Journalism" – how journalism covers innovation and the differences between business journalism and science journalism. Nordfors described how journalism is changing with the new economy -“more of the same economy” - versus the innovation economy. Because of this, the business model in journalism is changing. Mr. Nordfors sees a great problem in this – that we are lacking infrastructure in the public debate regarding the new economy and innovation journalism.
One of Nordfors' concerns is China, which has close media ties between legislature and the public; it is working better than in Sweden and the US. The big difference is of course that Sweden and USA are democracies.
One way Nordfors has chosen to address the problem is to start a program called Swedish Innovation Fellowship Program (sponsored by VINNOVA). It started by sending Swedish journalists to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The idea behind the program is that collaboration between countries will develop where journalists will serve as intermediate actors linking together different parts of the public debate, such as public, legislature, tech companies, and business. More players will come to compete for attention and the journalists and media will then be able to “deliver eyeballs.” As Nordfors chose to put it: “Thus in the long run beating communist China at it!”
After the speech, the 30 guests were given the opportunity to ask Mr. Nordfors questions. To everyone's delight, he calmly answered their questions, which covered the Swedish government, innovation journalism versus investigated journalism, the culture difference between news and entertainment, and the importance of patents.