About the Meeting

Three themes, framed by recognition of the Power of Storytelling, emerged for further work from the Media Probe conducted on April 28-30, 2005:

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

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

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

Perhaps the core idea uncovered by the probe:

Renew the inner life of the journalist to shift the questions asked.  Shift the questions asked and change the stories told. And if journalists tell different stories, we, the people, are better served.

Fetzer is uniquely positioned to contribute to a positive future for journalism because of its appreciation of the role of story in shaping culture and its existing expertise in working with the inner person.  Throughout the session, participants, who are actively engaged in improving their field, told us these two subjects we were discussing weren’t part of the current conversation. (Unlike the changes in technology which dominate the industry’s attention.)

By working with journalists, Fetzer has an exciting opportunity to experiment in supporting both individual and social formation.

Two next steps emerged from the meeting:

Explore Integrating Fetzer’s Individual Formation work reshaped for journalists into existing mid-career journalism fellowship programs:

  • Nieman Fellowships for Journalists at Harvard University;
  • University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellows program; and
  • Stanford’s Professional Journalism Fellowships program.

Conduct a second, larger probe that builds on the work recently completed.  The challenges facing journalism are extraordinarily complex: decreasing audience, disappearing traditional revenue sources, and radically changing technology that is altering the media landscape by offering new sources for information and changing the information model from “lecture” to “conversation”.  While the themes are clear, bringing together a larger sampling will enable us to better understand how to shape plans for social formation.

Posted in Conference Information | Comments Off on About the Meeting

Book List

  • Synchronicity, Joseph Jaworsky
  • Century of the Wind, Eduardo Galeano
  • Leadership and the New Science, Margaret Wheatley
  • Spiral Dynamics, Don Beck & Christopher Cowan
  • The Field, Linn McTaggart
  • At Home in the Universe, Stewart Kaufman
  • Complexity, Mitchell Waldrop
  • Chaos, James Gleick
  • The Chaordic Age, Dee Hock
  • We the Media, especially chapter 6, Dan Gillmor
  • Finding our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time, Margaret J Wheatley
  • Idea – Wiki Style Book

Posted in Session Notes | Comments Off on Book List

What’s Next?

On the last day, each participant reflected in silence, answering the following questions:

v  What have you learned?

v  What project idea do you want to pursue as a first next step?

v  Who do you want to involve?

What I have learned

  • Storytelling endures, the search for meaning endures, but…This doesn’t mean journalism will endure, or be recognizable in the forms where it appears today.
  • Journalism takes many shapes: words on paper, images on a screen, bits on a computer, songs, stories from elders, messages on you phone. Many more people, therefore, are becoming journalists.
  • The challenge for today’s journalist is to begin now to engage a next generation of journalists in the best and highest purposes of an endangered craft, even as new forms and platforms for journalism emerge.

Project ideas I would pursue

  • The healthy journalist. By renewing the “inner journalist” I believe it possible to realize the “outer journalist” to tell more hopeful, complete, and meaningful stories.
  • Elders and new explorers. I think today’s most experienced journalists can, and should, pair up with the emerging next generation of journalists – online, in new technology, etc. to share knowledge.
  • New business models to support journalists. We must find ways to separate journalism from its current business model, or watch journalism wither.

Who would I involve?

  • Change agents within journalism today
  • Journalism fellowship programs
    • Nieman
    • Michigan
    • Stanford
    • Poynter
  • Fetzer
  • Open space


What I have learned

  • I am not alone.
  • New theories of change.
  • New group techniques, e.g. open spaces.
  • The field may finally be ripe for new seeds.
  • Collaboration with Fetzer/Stephen/Peggy might be a better way for me to make a difference.
  • I’ll have to re-think how I will spend my remaining time.

What project idea do you want to pursue as a first next step?

  • Help design processes and occasions by which journalists and journalistic organizations – broadly defined – may learn, adapt, and help others to do the same.

Who do you want to involve?

  • “Inside” stakeholders
  • Outside/new/social stakeholders
  • Other agents for change


What I have learned

  • Compassion of the journalist for craft.
  • Ties of journalistic craft to business model.
  • New ways of communicating humanity and media literacy work.
  • New reference material to use in grassroots media justice/democracy work.
  • Deeper understanding of open space practice and concept.

What project idea do you want to pursue as a first next step?

  • Journalist-to-community training to create open and active collaborations in newsgathering.
  • Creation of “cultural” activities to engage the community in active journalism/storytelling.

Who do you want to involve?

  • “Traditional” journalists-reporters
  • Publishers
  • News directors
  • Bloggers
  • Youth
  • Grassroots
  • Key legislators
  • Public opinion leaders


  • Reconfirmed journalism is operating from

  • What I need to get over
  • So cynical – can’t change
  • Too touchy-feely
  • Will only accept practical not spiritual
  • Can a real difference be made?

What I have learned

There is a way

  • To rethink
  • To re-energize
  • To restore
    Journalists’ faith in themselves.

Give them campfires to tell stories around and to warm themselves.

Project ideas

  • Propose/create/conduct after conference reflection/conversation sessions “J.A.”
  • Start a storytelling site to contribute the stories.
  • Balance the story – appreciate.

Scott Libin

Scott left the meeting on Friday evening.  He answered the questions by e-mail.

What did I learn?

One of the things that interests me most is the notion that journalism is evolving along lines similar to past social phenomena.  I’m fascinated by the notion that news reporting might be today where literacy was a couple of centuries ago:  still in the hands of an elite, relatively small number of people, and on the verge of spreading throughout the population.  It’s conceivable that the practice of journalism will, over the next several years, become as ubiquitous as the practice of reading and writing is now.  It’s also noteworthy that, even in nations with the world’s highest rates of literacy, not everyone can make a living reading and writing.  Similarly, I don’t believe that all journalism will be equally competent in the future.  I believe the profusion of information sources will make even more valuable the role “traditional” news organizations play in helping consumers sort and analyze various streams of news.

What project do I want to pursue as a first next step?

I am both excited and concerned by the blogging phenomenon.  I wonder — with some sense of urgency — what its role will be in the larger spectrum of information gathering, processing and distribution.  Some of that is journalism; some is not.  This is true of print, broadcast and online communication; blogs are no exception.  What’s the financial model, if any, that can harness the positive power of blogging so that it isn’t just something people practice after hours, when they come home from their jobs at Wal-Mart?  If blogs are to unseat “mainstream media” as the principal method by which consumers inform and govern themselves, how do the bills get paid?  What happens to the stories that can’t be told incrementally and inexpensively by community-based journalists?  I’m interested in further exploration of that question.

Whom do I want to involve?

I’d like to get some bloggers into the conversation.  I don’t know specifically which ones, but I would hope some might be “recovering” MSM types like Andrew Sullivan.  Others might be creations of the blogosphere itself — sources who had no outlet until technology made it possible for everybody to publish cheaply and easily.  I’m less interested in those with narrow interests or political agendas to pursue, but they are a force to be reckoned with, and perhaps we should make room at the table for some of them, as well.  (Of course I use the term “table” in the figurative sense only, as I realize such barriers violate open space!)

Posted in Session Notes | Comments Off on What’s Next?

What’s Next: Key Themes


  • 2010: Journalism that matters for the 21st century.


  • Inner-Outer journalist
  • Preparing the next generation journalists
  • Emerging business model

v  Fetzer funds next step and uses to connect with

  • Soros
  • Poynter
  • Pew

v  Capture the landscape from this round

  • Presentation to lay the ground


  • Time commitment (3 days)
  • Self care – opportunities for doing other things
  • Kindred spirits from organizations

Qualities of who to invite

  • Kindred spirits
  • People who are “weavers” between practical and out there
  • Well connected
  • Open to new ideas
  • “Fertile crescent” – in the mainstream, not “of” the mainstream, open
  • Racial
  • Geographic
  • Original
  • Gender

Who to Invite

Journalism Schools

  • Lew Friedland
  • Cole Campbell
  • Karen Dunlap – Poynter
  • Keith Woods – Poynter

Working Journalists

  • Jane Ellen Stevens – Multi-media
  • Robin Sloan – InDTV
  • Matt Thompson – fresno.com
  • Orage Quarles – publisher
  • Dale Reskin or Andrew Nachison
  • Brant Houston – E.D. Investment Reporters Editors
  • Givermo Franco (news gathering)


  • Jay Rosen
  • Dan Gillmor
  • Rex Sorga


  • Becky Lentz-Ford
  • Huag Vu-Allan
  • Antonio Wallace

Citizen Activists

  • Chuck D.
  • Miguel Ortega
  • Anthony Riddell
  • D. C. Maury
  • Sally Alvarez
  • Petri Dish
Posted in Session Notes | Comments Off on What’s Next: Key Themes

A moment to myself

Macy Gray, from the album How Life Is

I saw a rainbow earlier today

Lately those rainbow be comin´ round like everyday

Deep in the struggle I have found the beauty of me

God is watchin and the devil finally let me be

Here in this moment to myself

I´m gonna vibe with no one else

There is a conversation I need to have with me

It´s just a moment to myself

There´re all looking at you, you´re got everything to lose

Get up and dance girl, sing your tu-rah-loo-rah-loo

And quit bitchin bout how don´t nobody really love you

Spread your rubber lovin and it bounces back to you

Here in this moment to myself

I´m gonna vibe with no one else

There is a conversation I need to have with me

It´s just a moment to myself

Flowers are bloomin under gray skies and moons

Seems like I´m winnin everytime I lose

And the answer I been looking for been here all this time

Spread your rubber lovin and it bounces back to you

Here in this moment to myself

I´m gonna vibe with no one else

There is a conversation I need to have with me

It´s just a moment to myself

Posted in Session Notes | Comments Off on A moment to myself

This Is It #2

This is It

This is really It.

This is all there is.

And it’s perfect as It is.

There is nowhere to go

but Here.

There is nothing here

but Now.

There is nothing now

but This.

And this is It.

This is really It.

This is all there is.

And It’s perfect as It is.

— James Broughton

Posted in Session Notes | Comments Off on This Is It #2

Searching For Meaning In A Changing World

Convener: Chris Peck

Attendees: Karen Toering, Linda (Fetzer Inst), and Peggy Holman

Submitted by:    Karen

Chris opened the session noting challenges faced by journalists, many (particularly women) give up. The ongoing question: Am I doing the right thing?

Karen- Perhaps it is not meaning you search for, but more likely feedback

Peggy- Repetitive activity and external noise can be distracting. Discussed the sense of ‘calling’ (inner voice) Time away brings perspective and vision just might come from listening from within

Linda- Is it still working? Perhaps journalists need to take out more time to reflect.

All agreed that a journalist’s world is extremely externalized

Chris- The very best stories carry you away. There is a dynamic tension between journalism and the Story.

Often the question arises- Is it about me or is it about the world?

Karen- I try to intentionally think about me.

Peggy –When I do for me, I do for the world

Linda – I need to keep moving, to keep going. That was in the past. Now I am curious about how journalists become ‘detached observers’

Chris – Journalists aren’t terribly reflective.

Peggy – Perhaps they are- in the “war stories” in the bar over a beer.

Chris felt that overall, there was a lot of ‘toughing it out’ e.g. 30 years of disillusionment

Peggy- Try to awaken that which was lost. Noted the responsibility (what if it works?). There is a lot of hurt

Group then discussed the idea of Lateral Learning- sharing learned experiences (like, sending 2 colleagues to the same workshop)

Other group thoughts- need to engage all aspects of the system to find solutions.

Peggy briefly discussed model of ‘appreciative inquiry’ allowing the journalist to ask powerful, ambitious life-giving questions. Try to move from

Fear, Anger, Despair, Greed ——->Hope, dreams, possibility

Using a system that allows space for individual and collective connections to be created and move towards a pattern of divergence -à emergence à collective action.

Posted in Session Notes | Comments Off on Searching For Meaning In A Changing World

Next Generation Journalists

Convener: Nora Paul

Participants: Scott, Jim, Eric, Stephen, Linda

We spent some time in this discussion of “next generation journalists” talking about the current generation – their psyche and attitudes.

Jim said that  a characteristic of today’s journalist is they want to change the world, but too often they impose their own version of what justice and truth is, that they have made it a one-way process.

We talked about the idea of the need to a new process, one that recognizes that there are “multiple truths.”  Jim’s question was, “In the rootstock of the journalists today, do we have the right people to take us to the new vision, to engage the next vision?”

Unfortunately, for the current “rootstalk” the cycle goes something like this:  the cub reporter is assigned to the crime beat and eventually starts to realize people are manipulating them, so they start to get defensive, then they start to get cynical and the cynicism becomes arrogance.

“The poster child for this cycle,” said Jim, “is Ben Bradlee.”

Journalism practice creates an interesting breed of people, but are they the people we need, and is their career development the best approach to creating the kind of people we need in this evolving media environment.

Scott raised the idea that we are facing “Secular, not cyclical, change.  The change going on now is more profound than cycles.”  He talked about a survey on work / life balance in newsrooms which got more than 750 responses.  There were no particular surprises, but when the responses were reported to a journalism and business values conference, the result that 1/3 of the respondents were looking to get out of journalism because of stress, the reaction of the attendees was, “So, good – 2/3 of them are doing ok.”

Scott remarked on the tendency of each generation to look at the next one and say, “How can we leave this to them?”  What is different with this next generation is they have a completely different expectation for what their career will be.  Are they, like the current generation, willing to make sacrifices in exchange for a stable job or are they going have much more fluid relationships with their employers.   The next generation is also being taught different things, different ways to do journalism than what is currently being practiced – so it sets them up for cynicism about the profession.  As Nora said, “Journalism education is ahead of the curve for the first time – often preparing journalists for a newsroom that doesn’t yet exist… “

Scott commented that this next wave journalism, particularly the online media and new storytelling might be exciting and fulfilling to young journalists “but that won’t pay the bills.”

Eric raised the question about the models for helping to transition into new media.   How do you maintain these dual systems, how do you have enough staff.  Analogies to the changes made in the mindset of librarianship as they dealt with a new paradigm for library usage in the age of Google were raised.

Steve brought up the issue of media literacy – and the skills that youngsters are being brought up with, the ability to imagine meaningful combinations of images and words .  Buckminster Fuller alluded to the human brain as continuously making “documentaries” – the notion of media literacy as necessary to making sense of the documentaries that everyone will be making…

Scott picked up on this idea comparing it to the changes in civilization when it moved from a society where few could write to one in which everyone could. “How can the world work if everyone is a journalist?”

Eric commented that in light of this complex information society developing that a core curriculum component should be data-mining.

And Nora followed that with the notion of “story mining.”

Eric imagined a cadre of people who have the creativity of the youthful mind and resources to capture stories.  He talked about a project to give tape recorders to kids in Chicago who then did radio documentaries.

Someone (Eric?) mentioned Vincent Harding – of Illif College in Denver – who created a library called Veterans of Hope.  Now he is bringing in Latino and African American youth in an intergenerational learning process.  How might this provide exemplars and ways to work with emerging journalists?

Everyone got excited about this idea of intergenerational learning.  Steve mentioned Soros’ youth media website.  This is how to get values transmitted in an increasingly fragmenting society.  Eric spoke of the opportunity to take the wisdom of the elders and have them help provide  a frame for a positive vision of the future.

The conversation then moved into idea of collaboration and dialog, particularly in the civic realm and the need to work out a collective dialog about issues.  How might this change both civic leadership and journalism.  There is a need to identify stakeholders and bring them together in functional ways.  Steve said, “Sustainable solutions only come from effective dialog.  We need new models of civic leadership.”

The challenges of infotainment masquerading as journalism and the relationship between journalism and public relations and advertising (“pr and ad – lying for profit”) were raised.  “How will the next generation of journalists parse out the whole question of truth?”

Scott recounted that most of the students in journalism school at Univ. of Minn. were not getting ready to go be journalists but rather to be public relations agents where “the obligation is to the company or the client” (not to the truth?)

Nora said that, in fact, public relations people are doing “journalism” online as more commercial enterprises provide their own editorial content.

Jim went back to the issue of data-mining – talking about huge amounts of granular information out there and that the largest organization in the world in terms of looking for information is Google with 3,000 employees.  They have a sophisticated business model, one in which the user is completely in control.  “Is Google the biggest force in journalism?”

Scott got into a discussion of what journalism is – and what needs to remain (particularly the notion of enterprise / investigative / critical journalism.)  He quoted Marty Linsky of Harvard, “You ought to do only what only you can do!”  Play to your strengths.

We talked about the rise of self-reporting, self-editing Internet tools such as wiki.  Jim said it was becoming clear to him that the people who should be at the table need to include the Wikis and the aggregators, like Google.

In summary:  This was a wide-ranging dialog that hit on various issues related to next generation journalists but also raised issues, and opportunities, around new media literacies and civic engagement / leadership.

Posted in Session Notes | Comments Off on Next Generation Journalists

What are New Directions for News

What are New Directions for News and other similar organizations doing to help establish a new vision for the media, and how can Fetzer and/or we coordinate, collaborate, and/or differentiate our activities vis-à-vis theirs?

Convener: Jim Shaffer

Attendees: Nora, Stephen, Linda, Eric and Chris.

Submitted by: Jim Shaffer

Nora: Jean Gaddy Wilson, the former head of NDN, retired in 2000.  [I think I heard Nora say] she hired Dale Peskin and they explored locating NDN at the University of Minnesota.  But, eventually NDN was merged into The Media Center, which is now headed by Dale.

A lot of groups within the industry are “circling the wagons” and trying to avoid change.

Eric: We need to involve the “circle the wagons” groups in a non-threatening way.

Chris: Scripps Howard (his company) is part of the CTW movement, which he sees as moving 90 MPH toward a cliff.

It is very possible that the change mechanism will be that the existing industry goes over the cliff and a new industry emerges … Journalism could be just a phase … But, those within the existing industry that are aware of their plight would want to be included in a discussion of alternate futures.

Eric: We need to balance dissenters, nervous choir, experimenters, fence sitters, and “closet transformers.”

Nora: Also involve the On-line News Assn, which is trying to preserve the best of conventional journalism’s values and practices into the new environment.

Jim to Nora: You must know Joe Michaud of the Portland Press Herald.  Nora:  Oh yes …

Nora: There is also a new organization of bloggers.

Chris: We need to build bridges between the big behemoths with big money and a myriad of small, agile innovators … both tend to put each other down … with hostile language.

Eric: We need to inject Love and Forgiveness in to that dialogue!

Chris: We also need to incorporate the personal journeys of the “old media” people, who will have a lot to lose as they adapt … it’s like bridging between the elders of the church and the new generation.

Nora: These discussions are not going on now.  There has been a disappearance of the campfire.

Chris: Many young people today wouldn’t want to set foot in a conventional newsroom.

Stephen: There’s also the Project for Excellence in Journalism, led by Tom Rosenstiel and Bill Kovach.  They put out an annual “State of Journalism” report.

Chris: They have great contacts.

Jim: We also need to include the aggregators, like Google.

Nora: And Teoma (a web search site)

Jim: If these organizations simply do their market research and follow their customer, they will go to higher levels of service.  Aggregating will lead to assembling and assorting and, eventually, interpretation.   The practice of marketing will lead them onto turf that we now think of as journalism.

Nora: And education.

Eric: What about the people that aren’t using broadband?

Nora: There are time-shifting services, too.

Eric: And filtering technologies and … people.

[Jim Shaffer’s thought, not vocalized:  Eventually, networked computers will be wise and omniscient, and much of this work will be done by non-human superbeings.]

Nora: A critical aspect of these technologies is that people want to be in control …

Stephen: Should we include Jay Rosen?  Or, is he too much of an impresario?  (Rosen’s org:  Press Think)

Nora: He’s the kind of smart guy that could be helpful.

Chris: He’s made a name for himself by saying, “The mainstream media has it wrong … they have to change, and I’m going to help them change.”

Nora: We should also involve Jim Haney at the Buffalo Evening News.

[Eric and Linda leave]

Nora: There’s also a guy in Minneapolis … Jeremy Iggers, who’s been working on citizen journalism for years

Jim: We also need to involve the Newspaper Association of America and the MIT Media Lab.

Chris: At MIT the person to involve is Walter Bender.  He wrote … something like Technocosm or maybe it was Telecosm.

There is a major group of people just riding out the change … hoping to make it to retirement.  And TV is being driven by ratings and news consultants following conventional formulas.  I don’t see a way out for them.  This is a major deterrent to change.

Another issue is to provide cover for the dissidents and out-liers.

Stephen: Even when people go to a retreat … they come back to the … inbox … and can’t act on their new knowledge.

[Eric and Linda back]

Jim: What we need to provide is what Professors Heifetz and Linsky at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government call a holding environment. This involves a reduced-risk environment that enables multiple parties and stakeholders to exchange information, build relationships, learn, accept change, and adapt.  It enables ideas to be ripened for appropriate discussion.  Heifetz and Linsky have developed a body of thought around how to create holding environments, and their thinking might be helpful here.

Several: Holding?

Jim: Holding people together; holding ideas before the appropriate parties; holding the discussions in a fault-tolerant setting that allows for learning and exchange … And the revelation needs to unfold gently.  If all we did were write the visionary “white paper” and drop it in peoples’ in-boxes, it would generate a lot of fear and negative energy.  Sometimes the idea of a holding environment is to let people discover bad news slowly.  Sometimes the essence of leadership is to disappoint people at a rate they can tolerate.

Chris: Many people don’t want to think for themselves, they just want to be told what to do …

Nora: Maybe role-playing would be a helpful tool.

Eric: This is classic conflict resolution/transformation work.  People will suffer pain … solutions must come out of different paradigms … people need to be valued … within an environment of hope and despair … Everyone has a personal story and their own challenges.  We need to value their stories.  If we get heady and take action that does not include their personal stories … lose effectiveness.  We need to establish a common ground.

Jim: We also should put the Maynard Institute on the list.

[End of session]

Posted in Session Notes | Comments Off on What are New Directions for News

Relative Truths

Convener: Scott Libin

Participants: Karen, Peggy

Submitted by: Scott

That’s a shorthand reference to a concept that is more complicated in its fullest sense.  We talked about the potential and limitations of the notion that truth is not always as objective a concept as traditional journalism has considered it; that it can be subjective, relative and even evolving.  A critical question is what role research, fact-checking, sourcing and other established journalistic practices play in the more complex context of community or “citizen-based” journalism.  What is the relationship between (to borrow from Kovach and Rosenstiel’s The Elements of Journalism) “assertion and verification”?

We examined the notion that journalism has moved from an arrogant, at times paternalistic attitude that “news is what I say it is,” in some cases all the way to pandering on the part of news organizations willing to broadcast or publish anything people will watch, read or otherwise consume.

We explored the idea that collective journalism challenges the model of disseminating news from a central source outward to many recipients…  with a model involving a more co-equal relationship among many sources who are also recipients.   This raises questions about a heightened need for media literacy and smart consumerism — an ability to assess the nature of news according to content and source, benefiting from greater transparency on the part of journalists.

Peggy shared a story about skepticism expressed by those who have had unsatisfactory experiences with people who billed themselves as open-space practitioners.  She said that those legitimately trained in OS had often considered the concept of certifying practitioners, but had ultimately concluded that to do so would create a barrier that, on the whole, might do more harm than good.  She suggested this might parallel proposals to certify journalists as professions as the fields of medicine and law do their practitioners.

Posted in Session Notes | Comments Off on Relative Truths