What might happen if journalists and public utilitiesco-convene conversations on sustainability and economic development?

Session Host: Christine Whitney Sanchez

Participant List:
• Alex Power
• Lina Davis
• Linda Ellinor
• Tom Bray
• Sarah Alvarez
• Amber Rivera

Session Notes

What drew you to this conversation?
• Alternative funding revenues
• Rate cases – discouraged
• Hoping to hear success stories
• Juxtaposition of sustainability and public utilities
• Journalists co-convening
• Public utilities fund journalism to increase their own accountability and improve both the info gap and resource gap

Incentives for Utilities to co-convene
• Dams are failing – hot issues
• Precedent from SoCal – facilitation groups got together with federal results
• East Oregon – water rights – government doesn’t facilitate measurable results. It was collaboration that got the dam removed.
• Great PR for the utilities
• Circumvent the government
• Low hanging fruit on sticky issues
• Engineers are good at complex issues – bring them into the conversation to seed future technology
• Journalists create a platform for energy efficiencies
• Build relationships with stakeholders

Disincentives for Utilities to co-convene
• All they care about is the financial bottom line
• Disturbing monopolies
• Dark money

Brainstorm
• Look into Architecture 2030
• Klamath Electric Project – River restoration -> highly facilitated public project
• It takes a long time to bring the right stakeholders together and build trust – Garfield Foundation
• Old energy industries (oil, gas, coal) = personal identities
• Important to create the most potent frame for the sponsorship
• How do journalists take the next step to BE the facilitators
• What about a partnership between Community engagement facilitators and journalists
• Journalists have been facilitating – it’s not their role to take those results forward
• Utility -> community engagement facilitators -> journalists
• Journalists -> community engagement facilitators -> public communication
• Journalists convention because they are the only ones who can
• Media folks ARE community developers
• Journalists would benefit greatly from a more open process

Incentives for journalists
• Gather enough info to explain the situation cogently and more even-handedly
• Effect positive change
• Re-legitimize themselves

The 2016 election changed our job description
Include journalists, as citizens, to advocate for a healthy community

Actionable Suggestions
• Create partnerships between journalists and community engagement facilitators
• Consider how the blurring of roles between journalists and activists can inform engagement
• Citizen journalists model in-depth conversations