What’s Emerging in the News and Information Ecosystem?

What is a news and information ecosystem?

The information exchange among the public, government and institutions that can inform, inspire, engage, and activate.

What do we know about it?

There is a new story of journalism being born even as the old story is dying.  At its heart, that new story stays true – and enlarges on – a purpose that many journalists hold dear: “to provide people with the information they need to be free and self-governing" (Kovach and Rosenstiel, 2001).   Like its predecessor, the new story has a mythic quality regarding the role journalism plays in navigating a changing world, bringing people a cultural narrative that prepares them and their communities to prosper. 

Each Journalism That Matters Event has added to our understanding of what is emerging.  Those themes are below.

From Detroit:  Communities are taking responsibility for their own story.  One strategy: embed journalists in the communities.

From Seattle:  Large outfits bring credibility.  Small outfits bring heart.  Collaborate.

From St. Pete: Journalism is still about the public good and now it is entrepreneurial.

From Kalamazoo:

The future of journalism centers around the power of storytelling to create healthy communities. Specifically:

Cultivating “healthy journalists”, renewing the inner life of the journalist;

Preparing the next generation, with an eye towards the emerging citizen journalist; and

Inventing a new economic model. As one participant put it, “Rather than further compromise the work, it’s time to separate journalism from its current funding sources and find a new model.”

Some of its seeds include:

· Journalism as a conversation – a groundbreaking shift from journalism as a lecture;

· Shaping a new “cultural narrative”— Recovering the mythic story of journalists as conveners and navigators through a changing world prepares them to support communities in shaping a new national “master narrative” for our times.

· High tech/high touch journalism – Whether on the web or in the café, new storytelling forms are emerging that engage us on cell phones and iPods, and in gathering places with food, music and the arts; and

· Ready, Fire, Aim – A strategy of “just do it,” moving from idea (ready) to implementation (fire) and then watching the results and adjusting (aim).   This formula creates rapid experimentation and learning and avoids analysis paralysis.

The images below reflect themes from the other conferences.  By metaphorically removing the newsroom walls and taking the journalist out of the cube, the qualities of the new news ecology — the information exchange among the public, government and institutions that can inform, inspire, engage, and activate — emerge: