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]

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