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:
v 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.
v 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.