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The following sessions were posted (see pictures) and held (see list) on April 4, 2013 when conference participants self-organized into discussion groups using Open Space Technology.

10:30am Sessions

12:45 Sessions

2:00 Sessions


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Developing Indicators for Healthy News Ecologies

Convener: Dr. Michelle Ferrier
Participants: Susan Abbott, Emily Guerin, Tess Doezema, Cally Carswell, Sandra Fish, Lynn Schofield Clark, Tom Glaisyer.

*Michelle: worked with meteorologists and plotting LANDSAT points, so coming at this from high and low level views.

Began to look at news as food. Looked at food cycle and compared it to news and information. (Also run a food news site.) USDA came out with a food desert map recently. Attempt to define what a food desert was. Took census data, then created definitions of how far people lived from fresh food sources. But what was important was what happened: was an epiphany, changed conversation at regional and local level about a problem that hadn’t really discussed. How does transportation exacerbate the problem? How can people get to farmer’s markets? Etc.

What are the things that constitute a healthy news ecology? And how will we know we’ve done our job well? Created healthy communities with useful / important news and information.

What is a media desert? Geographic area lacking fresh news and information. Daily, even weekly. This condition may be as a result of a lack of content, access, language barriers and other issues.

Framework of analysis:
*Code: language, spoken or written or computer languages
*Content: News, information, images
*Conduit: Newspapers, radio, mobile

When N.C. paper contracted, subscriptions dropped in core coverage area too b/c newspaper got flimsier, its perceived value dropped

Right now, really trying to define what a media desert is. And find indicators — how do we measure the value of what we produce?

What does a healthy, engaged community look like? Voting patterns, etc.
*How do you get metrics that are generalizable, and can dig into what is a healthy ecosystem? Then, how useful is that going to be to the world? Is it really that we need to understand that South High School is the most important thing? To understand that community, you really need to understand that high school.

*Do our ideas of what journalism is need to change? Information networking with people who care about certain things.

Media Corps: Deploying journalism resources to underserved communities

Convener: Dr. Michelle Ferrier
Participants: Rob Williams, Sandra Fish, Josh Wolf, Jenifer Lehman

Media Corps:

The corps could be done through a collaboration of media outlets, some small amount of money. Similar to ProPublica model.

Wealthy individuals to bankroll the corps.

Government model

Partner with Higher Education for dorm space, meeting space, pull together media corps for training. Student journalist labor.

Doing a collaboration between the Colorado schools that would send our students out like Peyonya and to places that you can rotating students to provide coverage.

Traveling journalist and traveling stenographer, but is also willing to work with a trained student in getting to the bottom if it.

Veteran journalist: college-educated, mentor them full time

Model for training local educated people:
4 weeks: Winter term model
In the classroom/In the street for half a day.

Virtual apprenticeship for 6 months after that where you get editing, coaching, advise, structure for the business, etc.

Maybe some people aren’t good at the writing, photo, video, call center, processing community feedback.

Code: Deploying translators where there may be news and information an dnot being serviced by existing media.

Content: Injecting public information service function into area.

Conduit/Code/Content: Media desert idea.

Funding for “three” separate projects.

Full media desert: A better use of the funding and the ability to look at measure change.

Hyperlocals focused on media deserts: Richmond, CA: Josh Wolf: Economically repressed. I had to fight to Richmond Confidential. No one cares what happens in city council anyway.

Open Media Group with young people and the legislature. Film center to get young people to create documentaries. Part of it is journalism and feeling comfortable telling their own story.

Media Environment

Digital Storytelling Project
Digital Stenography: Liveblogging
Journalism Layer

Teaching digital literacy:
Lower SES communities
Providing the technologies: Phones and use in editing stories for publication.

Lack of local news sources:
Voice and Photography, What they can bring based on their own media experience. To create local stories.

I think it is important at how you convince a city council member to contribute money toward public journalism.

What is the case for them?

Economic development; publicity for the council;
Sustainability wrapper: How do we engage the population in these larger issues. Informed people: to communicate regional issues.


Informed citizenry and sustainable community.

Generating material they can use in their campaigns.
Public news and information function.
Public cliffnotes of city council.

Help to make large issues and documents digestible.
Translation function
Bridge: Journalists are bridge for public to what is happening in city council meeting.
Ego driven hooks for city council members. Amplifying their personal messages and initiatives.

2.2 percent ownership of commercial broadcast in the U.S.
Research: Race-conscious approach, incubators and enforcing EEO for racial minorities.
I think it’s a tragedy. Media justice delayed. New media is not on a pathway to the golden age of journalism.95 percent comes from tv newsroom and newspaper news room. Dumbing down of our diet. Those of you that believe in the new media, we have a lot of heavy lifting to do.

It’s the things that aren’t there that are important in this crisis.

How do we connect to underserved/underinformed communities?

Host:  Sandra Fish, Journalism Instructor, Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Colorado

Attending: Plenty of students from University of Denver, along with three South High students participated in the session.

What are we talking about when we talk about underserved/underinformed communities? Some said those who don’t have TV. Those who are rural. Impoverished communities that can’t afford to pay for media, especially Internet connections.

Some of those underinformed communities don’t see themselves in popular media coverage. Students from South noted that their school is rarely covered in Denver media except for sports. They said more affluent schools get more coverage in news pages.

The South students’ parents – mostly African – watch news on Ethiopian television, for example, because they’re more concerned with their home countries.

DU and South students noted that social media such as Facebook and Twitter are essential to learning about news. But they noted that they don’t always seek out news they might need to know – they get it from friends instead, and that may limit their exposure.

South students say they want to know things quickly, when they happen – and social media meets that need.

Some conclusions: Journalists need to show how news impacts underserved/underinformed communities in a real way. Nonprofit news outlet OaklandLocal.com does a good job of this. Is there a way to create a student news corps in Colorado to serve rural or other underserved communities? DU students said they would like to participate in such an endeavor. Group leader Sandra Fish and DU professor Lynn Schofield Clark plan to discuss this idea in coming months.

News Co ops

Convened by Tom Stites, Founder and President of the Banyan Project

Russ Baker, Founder/Editor, WhoWhatWhy.org
Sarah van Gelder, Yes! Magazine
Jennifer Lehman, writer/future student
Sarah Van Gelder, Executive Editor of Yes! magazine
Rob Williams, Publisher/Editor, Vermont Commons
Josh Wolf, Freelance journalist
Mary Treacy, ex-librarian, former director, Minnesota Coalition on Government Information, Minneapolis.

News Co-ops

Tom Stites’ Banyan Project is building a prototype for a collection of news co-ops brought together by value principles and open-source editing software currently being designed. The group exchanged ideas, offered suggestions, questions and what ifs on the topic of news co-ops.

Banyan Project model (banyanproject.coop):

-News co-ops are like food co-ops and credit unions in that they are local

-All co-ops start small. REI became huge, lost their model and joined the traditional marketplace.

-Banyan Project (building a network of co-ops) is based on the idea that if journalism is relevant to lives, respectful and valuable, readers/engagement will come.
-News co-op structure will illicit volunteer cooperation
-News co-ops are beyond a business model…a model that insists on a different kind of journalism that is from the people up vs. top down.
-Co-ops are most trustworthy form of business b/c of built-in accountability
-Community is at the center, editor is a group hire accountable to board/readers
-Editor one level removed from community editorial decisions, not a content free for all
-Least central control is best, each co-op is idiosyncratic, based on individual community
-Co-ops need central group with good listening skills, leadership skills and a checked ego.

Building Online Community:

-Online comments are not community and aren’t really engagement
people need to be able to find each other, more possible with co-op model
-No anonymity
-Group moderation, flagging system
-Comments move into conversation space (searchable threaded archive) rather than just day of story
-Hybrid online and face-to-face
-Question of the week, engagement

Questions/Concerns/What ifs:

Least central control is best to allow communities to fit their needs, but what level of control is required from the central organization? Need to find balance.
– Banyan hopes to maintain balance through their unique software made available for free to partner co-ops
-Software (still being created) includes some editorial barriers/tips
-(ex:) pop-ups reminding team “does what you’ve written match the value proposition?” or reminders to check spelling of names

Dealing with the stray groups (groups acting outside of Banyan’s values)
-TED has come out against specific TED talks that aren’t with their values (such as ESP presenters they feared would alienate hard-science speakers)
-Are very strong principles needed? People/co-ops will need to buy into ideals in the beginning and then discuss/determine if there is too much straying
-Banyan project model writes into agreement that co-op can be cut

Some co-ops may never survive because the culture is never set or is not sustainable.
-How to set co-op culture from the beginning?

Possibilities/Ideas/Other Comments:

Member levels: reader member, institutional member, producer member.

Worker owned co-op?
This biz model is growing, Stites says, but news co-ops need to be community based, not worker based.

What is the flexibility for each co-op?
“Banyan software will be the hymnal, but you don’t have to sing all the hymns” – Stites
Someone from group: “Software cannot drive what you are doing”

Co-op Alignment Idea
-VISA model
-basic principles agreed to then you can call yourself Visa (or part of the Banyan Project), principles reviewed over time

Co-op Internal Structure Example
-One excellent editor who knows journalism
-One excellent manager — needs to have significant community organization skills (or consider a third position for community organization/outreach)

Working Films model (www.workingfilms.org)
-Purpose is to create social change with movies
-Org. works with filmmakers, identify market, stakeholders, constituents who then become editorial board/members
-Board/members have place to go/something to do, involvement, content ideas

“Journalism should trump ideology.” –willingness to be surprised, to change mind

Journalists and Journalism
-“The word journalism has lost fixed meaning.” – Stites
-Banyan’s definition: reliable information people need make their best life/citizenry decisions
from the group: “Doesn’t this lead to a need/desire for professional, excellent journalists?”
-Not everyone can be a journalist — but everyone can be trained

Books to Read (recommended by Stites):

“Penguin and the Leviathan” by
Penguin is Linux and Leviathan is Hobbs
-shows depth of human collaborative urge
-web takes tension out of volunteer cooperation
-collaboration urge turned off with money

“Future Perfect” by Steven Johnson
-puts ideas found in “Penguin and Leviathan” into a political framework

100 ways to generate revenue

100 ways to generate revenue:

This session was merged with Josh Wolf’s session about the very clever idea of getting a community based retail operation (brew-pub, for instance, or coffee roaster) that could subsidize the journalism. We never got to fully play with this idea.

We began by polling people present to see where revenue comes from in the organizations they work with.

Callie Carswell of High Country News: 10 percent advertising, 30 percent subscriptions, 1/3 grants, 1/3 individual donors

Russ Baker of Whowhatwhy.org–100 percent individual donors.

Anthony Shawcross, Open media fdn– 60-70 percent, earned income–communications services, subsidizes citizen journalism. 30 percent grants and donated moneys.

Colorado Public News–funded by indiviudal donors and grants…even with the huge influx of money

Michelle Ferrier of Locally Grown News: For profit–consulting, using intellectual capital in work with farmers markets

Kelly McBride of Poynter: Tampa Bay times is owned by Poynter– previously funded us. But it’s no longer profitable… now, the goal is to just not lose money. Poynter gets additional revenue from advertising, consulting, educations, private donations.

Josh Wolf suggested freely distributed print publications subsidized entirely by ads…

Dan Petty of the Denver Post: Subscription, ads, and now, strategic marketing consulting, including social media, google adwords, facebook ads campaign…
Digital advertising pays for the newsroom–200 people–more than $10 million. Some of the ads go into a national ad network….Dallas Morning News has ads trafficked through Denver…

Rita Andolsen said WKYC is also providing add’l services for advertising clients…

The question arose: Could there be a for-profit arm that would subsidize the news…To which someone offered the rejoinder: Can you have for-profit news that doesn’t get corrupted? That got the group focused on the possibility of lobbying for increased government subsidy of the media, which met with two primary objections: editors of for-profit orgs largely don’t want to be beholden to the government, and the political climate is unlikely to prove to be receptive to such a proposal. We agreed to let it go.

A few other models were mentioned:
MedCity News, which focuses on a niche industry and builds community and events around that.
Issue Media Group (FreshWater, PopCity, Model D, and others), which builds coalitions in communities to support coverage of arts, innovation, economic development and emerging trends (not hard news.
Texas Tribune, which has revenue from members, major donors, philanthropy, corporate sponsorships, newsletter subscriptions, earned revenue (NYT partnership), and events (>$900K in 2012).

Philanthropic model–ProPub,

Yes Magazine–ongoing support, distributed support, 1700 members, giving monthly. … sales, subscriptions, swag, book, book publishing.

How do you compel readers to action without being an advocate yourself?

Host: Emily Guerin

Participants: Sue Salinger
Caitlin Alexander
Jennifer Lehman
Sarah Ford
Ted Anthony
Kevin Frey
Barbara Meghen Smith
Greg Smith
Sarah Gelder
Rob Williams

Emily: Read High Country News’s mission statement, emphasizing second sentence: “Its mission is to inform and inspire people–through in-depth journalism–to act on behalf of the West’s diverse natural and human communities.” Said organization has internal strife over whether it sounds too advocacy-oriented.

Ted: Said the mission statement is vague enough to be OK–his beef would be what you’re acting on behalf of.

Greg: Raised the difference between empowering people to act and advocating for what they should do.

Ted: Wondered if people are stumbling over the word “inspire.” Inspiring advocacy versus advocating.

Sue: Doesn’t think you can inspire advocacy in others without pushing a position.

Peggy: InvestigateWest looks for solutions

Sarah: explains solutions-oriented journalism, which is what Yes! Magazine does. Says people can name 1000 problems, but no solutions. Showing a solution to a problem is not advocacy. But she wishes they could be more critical of solutions and assign a reporter to look into each one.

Ted: it depends how the solutions are presented

Greg: Is Politifact advocacy?

Peggy: writing about something we all agree on–say, the well-being of our children–is not advocacy

Sue: but there are some things people would say threaten our children, like fracking, that not everyone agrees with

Barb: references Kelly McBride’s talk from earlier in the day. A principal of journalism: to tell the whole truth, not just your perspective.

Emily: gave an example of a story where the reporter went in wanting to undermine a politician. wrote a long, well-researched, excellent story, but didn’t disclose his intentions.

Ted: starting with a conclusion should be showed up front–worried the reporter had “confirmation bias,” i.e. he found what he went looking for

Greg: gave a counter example from RI, where reporters didn’t cover a corrupt politician

Ted: just not liking someone is not bias. you have to want to undermine them in some way or dig up dirt.

Greg: wonders if advocacy has to be conscious.

Sarah: perpetuating the dominant worldview without questioning it is advocacy. i.e., all economic growth is good. says a lot of reporters write as if that is always good.

Emily: back to her example. if the reporter in question had started the story with no assumptions and ended up in the same place as the one that was written, does it matter?

Ted: appearance of conflict of interest is as bad as an actual conflict. the reason you go into a story matters.

Barb: said the reporter should have backed up the story and explained why he wanted to undermine the politician’s campaign, how he’d reported on the guy for years and began to distrust him.

Sue: says advocacy’s purpose is to create social change

Ted: prefers the term “unbiased” to “objective.” said it’s important how you come to conclusions, and questioned whether the reporter should have continued to cover the politician once he had a strong opinion.

Sue: journalism already has an advocacy-oriented mission: to create a more-informed democracy

Greg: you can inspire advocacy without advocating by showing success, which will inspire people to act

What is engagement?

There were 17 people present, most of whom are referenced somewhere in the notes below.

We began with a quick round of introductions, in which each member of the group characterized their perspective on engagement–what follows here are some of the highlights…
Josh S said he comes from a perspective of being interested community organizing and what it can do for for journalis?
Kelly–pointed out that in our vernacular, Engagement is a promise to be in a relationship with another person…
Laura asked, what does the community mean by it? what do they want to do?
Mike Fancher said Innovation in J has been around the old (business) model, and he’s interested in seeing it center around a new model.
Rita said that E Varies from person to person and there is a range of engagement, from watching the news to acting in the world
Dan Petty said, “it’s a question I ask myself every day,” and he worried the word has lost its meaning…
Christof spoke of his interest in the link b/w environmentalism and engagement…
And Ted said he prefers the word “involvement.”

We then began to pursue three essential questions, only two of which we managed to answer.
Question: How do we engage?
Q: Why do we engage? Why should we engage?
Q: How do we measure it?

Ted began by coming back to Kelly’s notion, that there is a commitment involved–we will do this together. It levels the playing field b/w Js and public
Marla–involvement is the most useful for me. At the NCDD, she said, E centers on dialogue, and there are four categories:
-Explore a topic,
-Deal with conflict,
-Decision making (rather than the “decide and defend” model), and
-Collaborative action.

Jill pulled the conversation back to the beginning, asking, “Do we share this assumption that we are already engaged by writing a story?” Which ended up with consensus that yes, we do share that assumption, but there are multiple entry points to engagement and it is a driver of ongoing relationships with communities.

So WHY engage?
Before diving into the why question, Kelly M. noted how important transparency is: E makes audience more valuable to advertisers. Sometimes it builds our relationships, and where I hope we get to is that that’s how we build community, so we have to be really transparent when we ask ppl to engage with us.

Marla reminded the group of the role civic J has always played in strengthening democracy, and political J has been disconnected from that…In her former role at Texcas pubcaster, they would connect citizen concerns, talk to them, hold forums, recorded them, put them on the air–hold accountable candidates to answer citizen questions–engagement bloomed as a democratic exercise…. Various experiments

Mike F. Why do ppl engage with J or school district–giving them the information isn’t the mission any more–participating with them is the mission.
Marla–ppl engage bc they want to tell their story, they want to figure things out; they want to share stories–they’ve lost trust in gov’t…
Margie T. Feminist, collaborative style of doing journalism–
Jill–Question of authority…Big J was rarified…it’s so much more reachable and tangible…Media literacy is so important in this…
David… let’s not lose sight of the ppl who get engaged bc they suddenly have an interest in govt…multiply that interest…
Dan–Is the desire to engage the same desire that drives our work as journalists?

Josh S: TRUST. bring communities in before during and after publication of story– that’s a way to build trust…
Kelly–trust gets built in a new way in this new ecosystem… relationships instead of authority…
Ted–is the flip side–we are more convinced of our own opinions…
Josh–trust in personal networks

So, then, Why engage? To build community and build trust in the community.

Christoff helped us turn our attention to the What is engagement? question, and its cousin, How are we engaging people?

Peggy noted that at Lawrence Journal World, under Jane Ellen Stevens, they created a site that wasthe go-to place for health information in Lawrence–started with the community. Half the content would come from Journalists, and half would come from the community. WellCommons.com. Rather than built around topics, they built around group. Businesses pay to participate, individuals get free access. Changed the way reporters approached their work bc the stories they pursue are informed by sharing space. (this could be a great model for ideastream)

Ted asked, is this a New form of beat reporting?
One of the Mike’s noted it’s definitely a new relationship with authority…

Josh wondered about these models and whose responsibility is it to engage? When is it our responsibility to go out and engage the ppl who aren’t engaged?

Laura–it’s not hard to imagine ways that aren’t similar to recent forms…But What’s the continuing engagement?

Ted–engagement in shaping and creating– and engagement that moves beyond…

Laura–there might even be three–what does it become?

Marla–community of churches paired up–exchanged congregants–talked about race–kept the conversation going…

Dan– Editorial boards becoming engagement boards….

Christoff–but what do we mean by “the community?”

Kelly–communities, not Community.

Peggy– it needn’t be neat and tidy…what if the meeting just happened the first monday of every month, and if you want to be a part of it, you show up…story from Tacoma washington, Af-Am community…

Margie–its our responsibility to be intentional about recruiting diversity

Kelly–you’re never there. Every community is fluid.

Josh–2 resources–CW anderson talks about publics, Rebuilding the News… a piece on Nieman Lab. Missed opportunities

David G. Resources for reaching out–Nonprofits have a great eagerness to help w outreach.

Jill–from the meta perspective–this has an opportunity to

Mike–community engagement should be a part of the community,,,

How do you measure it? CIRCLE at Tufts. RJI, Joy Mayer has resources.

A couple of important links:
Josh Stearns mentioned this piece about what endorsements should do:

Dan Moulthrop wrote this piece reflecting on the session:

The Journalism of Inclusion

I posted our session about The Journalism of Inclusion on our blog at The Journalism of Inclusion – How to get Youth and Minorities instant access to the media, and reproduced it here>

Bill Densmore
Stephen Silha
Mary Kate Douglas, journalism student
Alexia Crane, journalism student
Andrew Matranga, journalism instructor, DU

#jtmdenverAt Journalism That Matters conference at the University of Denver this week, one of our missions was to support the journalism of inclusion: how to get more youth and minorities easy and instant access to media distribution. We believe journalism education’s role is to support the massive expansion of a citizen journalist class that will be far more prolific and closer to the news than what exists today in the fourth estate. One of JTM’s board members, Mike Fancher mentioned to me: “Journalists still hold onto the belief they are gatekeepers for reporting news. If we could rebuild the structure of news reporting anew, it would not be a structure in which a group exclusively controlled news distribution, it would look more like a system where those who understand the process of news reporting and distribution would teach everybody else on how to do this.”

Thursday morning, a group of University of Denver journalism students attended the conference. We immediately offered them access to our Media Amplification Program so they can use Twitter to distribute their community news stories to over 12,000 followers of our 14 Denver area Twitter feeds. For journalism students, this instant access to relevant community media extends their study outside the classroom into the real world.


Next we worked together with two of their instructors, Lynn Clark and Andrew Matranga to set up a new Breaking News platform for the University of Denver called DUBreakingNews.com, with associated Twitter and Facebook feeds. Our admin team, experienced in curating media and blog sources for University of Denver put this system together in 3 hours, just in time to unveil at the conference’s closing. With the DUBreakingNews platform, journalism students can easily post DU news and information using social media sources and see it published instantly. We believe giving students the power of media access creates engagement; with our Media Amplification Program, students now can interact with 12,000 readers in their community and get real time feedback no classroom can provide. And with the assistance and oversight of their instructors, this facility makes their study of journalism instantly practical.

We’ve built Breaking News for colleges before with MizzouBreakingNews.com for the University of Missouri Columbia. Now after our enthusiastic conversations yesterday with journalism educators and their students at DU, we’ve decided to open up Breaking News for colleges and, in particular, their journalism departments. DU’s Professor Clark also works with high schools to develop their media capabilities, and we’ll support her efforts to bring Breaking News as laboratories to high schools too. If you’re interested in helping us build more college breaking news, please contact us at thebreakingnewsnetwork@gmail.com

Related article: How we give teens who support DoSomething.org instant media access to help their communities

Solutions Journalism

Convener: Sarah van Gelder, YES! Magazine

  • Dave Gordon, Chippewa Valley Post
  • Cali, High Country News, C.O.
  • Tom Stites, Banyan Project
  • Peggy Holman, JTM Co-founder

Questions discussed

  • To some extent the the traditional story structure of winner / lose with which we are all familiar came out who joined the the profession post-Watergate.
  • Journalistic respect traditionally goes to those who take people down (including in journalism)
  • Putting out solutions puts you in a much more vulnerable position

On the solutions side of journalism there are two levels
1. Specific stories
2. Showing a larger picture of a sustainable society.

Is it comparable to peace journalism that identifies all the stakeholders and not frame as a conflict but as something that is debated?


  • Solutions Journalism Network,
  • Axiomnews, http://axiomnews.ca/ – Uses appreciative inquiry as the basis. They charge their clients for covering them as journalists.
  • Macrosopic journalism – Where you are part of the story not outside of the story.

Existing journalism -> Takes the status quo as the target, with everything else a disruption. Whereas solutions journalism looks more productively at the future.

Solutions journalism encourages action can you set up partnerships to perform action.