Open Minds, Open Newsrooms

Convener: Cole Campbell

Note taker: Phil Haslanger


  • Tom Baden, Harrisburg, PA
  • Carol Hunter, Green Bay, WI
  • Ken Sands, Spokane, WA
  • Phil Haslanger, Madison, WI
  • Lance Johnson, New London, CT
  • Phil Elliott, Athens, OH
  • Cole Campbell
  • Suki Dardarian, Seattle,WA
  • Peggy Kuhr, Spokane, WA
  • Sara Merar (student), Mequon, WI


Cole began by observing that newsrooms are often closed cultures. He wondered how to create a culture that would welcome new ideas and insights and how to think of readers as partners instead of clients.

Lance rephrased that as how to give readers the info they need to live their lives. He also asked how to get rid of the cynicism while keeping the skepticism. What will be the mechanism that will allow new ideas to breathe?

Sara said that she needs a place to feel safe to offer new ideas, small groups rather than large meetings.

Phil Elliott talked about being able to try things that might fail and then learn from them.

Sara suggested getting new voices into the newsroom, perhaps pairing students with online editors for shadowing experiences. Phil added extending that offer to community members.  Lance talked about the use of readers’ panels and inviting the public to sit in on news meetings.

Suki asked why we don’t solicit ideas from readers more often and Peggy observed that readers often pose the clearest questions.

Ken used the model of a triangular relationship among the newspaper, the readers and the community, with all the communication moving two-ways through each leg of the triangle. Cole asked about bringing readers into the newsroom to talk about the community.  Suki suggested asking the staff for ideas on how to better connect with the readers and the community. Phil Elliott described sending reporters out to neighborhoods where they had not been before with the assignment to visit new places, talk to new people and come up with new story ideas.

Two last thoughts from Cole:

1) Getting out into the world is good. How do we let the world get into us?

2)  We shouldn’t cover the news; we should discover the news.

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