JTM Quarterly Initiatives meeting

A Journalism That Matters-Pacific Northwest Initiative Quarterly Meeting was held Oct. 27 at the Center For Ethical Leadership in Seattle to update initiative leaders and others on the status of ongoing JTM-PNW initiatives. Initiative leaders, Sanjay Bhatt, Mike Fancher, Brian Glanz, Peggy Holman, Sarah Stuteville, Matt Rosenberg, Jeff Vander Klute, Rick Vanderknyff were present. A welcome guest, Joe Anderson of Forum One Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based firm with a Seattle office which works on “the Web face of public affairs initiatives” with clients including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was there to learn about the initiatives and share.

Brian Glanz kicked things off leading a featured presentation on the beta version of the JTM-PNW Web site. It provides a space for initiatives to create an online hub of their own, and also share their work in a larger space that would feature hubs for other initiatives, as well as the work of other new media/community media projects, and journalists in the region. Another option, Glanz said, is for initiatives and individuals who have their own Web sites, to use the JTM-PNW platform to re-post their online work, for broader distribution.

One issue, Glanz noted, is that currently there is no user fee, not even a small one, to screen out “spam”-oriented users, so the spam can and does sometimes pile up and has to be cleaned out. A small (monthly?) fee of even $5 could virtually eliminate the problem, he said. A variation would be a “fremium” model, where some basic level of access is allowed for free but a more robust service level for any user would entail some sort of premium, or charge.

Mike Fancher said the JTM-PNW Web platform can be promoted at our meetings, as a tool. There was ensuing discussion that the platform could prove valuable for journalists who have had to leave their legacy media jobs, and are looking to establish an online presence and connect with colleagues.

Sanjay Bhatt added that one immediate need is for better calendar coordination between the various journalism-oriented groups in the region, and that the JTM-PNW Web platform could provide this service. Among the groups that would benefit from schedule coordination to avoid conflicts are Society of Professional Journalists, NW Chapter; Asian-American Journalists Assn., NW Chapter; JTM-PNW, and the regional science writers group.

Sarah Stuteville gave a report on the Seattle Digital Media Literacy Initiative (SDLI), which arose after conversations at JTM-PNW’s January 2010 conference at UW. The initiative is funded for its Pilot Year of 2011, and housed within the Common Language Project, at the University of Washington. Stuteville reported that SDLI is focused on providing a basic framework for employing digital literacy concepts, and teaching media production skills to high schools and middle schools in Seattle, working with the schools and youth organizations to focus on underserved populations. Field visits to classrooms begin in January 2011. Additionally, there will be teacher training around the objectives, in collaboration with the World Affairs Council. On June 26th, there will be a week-long student journalism camp at UW.

Sanjay Bhatt gave an update on the Global Health Reporting initiative which seeks to create a more robust regional infrastructure for reporting on global health. One interesting finding of their recent survey of regional stakeholders was that they mentioned 90 different Web sites as information sources on global health news.

Matt Rosenberg provided an update on the Building On Transparency initiative, that may be re-named Public Eye Northwest. It seeks to daylight important but largely overlook government reports, documents and databases and catalogue them; and to advance a broader civic and community agenda around information that public entities release voluntarily, online. The initiative has recruited a board, held its first board meeting, secured pro-bono legal assistance for a pending 501c3 application, drafted a work plan and a three-year budget.

Rick Vanderknyff reported on the Civic Communications Commons initiative (CCC), that held a three-day planning retreat in late September at Seattle Center led by Lew Friedland of University of Wisconsin. It included a well-attended meeting of potential community partners and allies.

The general thrust is to work to create a vibrant shared environment online and offline that unites groups across news, advocacy, arts and a wide range of other community spheres in order strengthen connections and collaborations. The CCC also serves other initiatives. Mike Fancher, leader of the Creating Abundant Journalism initiative, said they will use the CCC pilot project on news and information as the vehicle for guiding the Creating Abundant Journalism initiative, focusing initially on creating a clearinghouse of information about the news ecosystem.

“A first effort will be to develop a common calendar on the JTM website about what’s happening in the region,” Fancher said. “We plan to have a convening of journalism organizations, followed by a broader public gathering about the ways to generate more journalism in the region.”

2011 is seen as a year for a few targeted pilot projects, Vanderknyff said. The big launch comes in 2012 in connection with Seattle Center’s “Next 50” program, that includes a series of community conversations on key topics such as the arts, and civic engagement. Jeff Vander Klute, who has recently relocated to Western Washington, and who has designed CCC’s initial internal Web environment, is ably assisting Rick by taking a key role in conceptualizing and developing the initiative.