On October 6-9, 2005, twenty-nine people in journalism (print, broadcast, new media, citizen activists, educators, a student, a funder and a Wall Street analyst) convened at the Fetzer Institute’s Seasons Retreat Center to consider the future of journalism.
The gathering was filled with rich, multi-textured, and creative conversations. Personal shifts from despair to hope occurred for many participants. Most left the gathering with tangible actions to pursue as several promising projects emerged. Perhaps most exciting, an innovative idea for creating a new style of newsroom, populated by a mix of professional and grassroots journalists, was born. Given the clear commitment among key participants to pursue this idea, this was a particularly specific and potentially useful outcome.
Successful with journalists, the process itself (self-organizing, primarily using Open Space Technology) is a model for people in other sectors who wish to convene gatherings that produce a clear path for action. Its effectiveness originates from its integral nature, simultaneously engaging…
…the inner, authentic presence of participants and
…their outer, professional selves;
…the inner stories that form the “master narrative” of a culture, and
…the outer activities of collective daily life.
While detailed reports written by the participants provide texture and depth, some themes that surfaced include:
- Journalism as a conversation – A groundbreaking shift from journalism as a lecture compels journalists to engage the public in radically new ways;
- Shaping a new “master narrative”— Recovering the mythic story of journalists as a 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 – This strategy of “just do it,” moving from idea (ready) to implementation (fire) without months of planning (aim), is a radical alternative for this risk-averse culture. Changes in technology make such continuous evolution and ongoing learning a natural way to work.