What role can community journalism play in fostering love and forgiveness?

Convener: Eric Nelson

Present: Jim, Nora, Karen, Chris, Stephen, Peggy and Eric

Submitted by: Eric Nelson

  1. An important learning partner in civic journalism would be the Pew Charitable Trust
  2. Critical belief among journalist is to empower the reader to take positive action – once the problem is exposed they should also lift up possible solutions and resources to help address the problem
  3. Our job is to get the bad guys out of society, so at this time no one has the assignment to lift up love, forgiveness, and reconciliation
  4. In the current media environment it is critical to support coherent community life so as to have a wide market to, so telling stories that help to bring people together may be seen as a way to increase numbers of subscribers.
  5. Are we describing a small niche of readers who are interested in peace, reconciliation, restorative justice, race, etc.  If so how large is this audience and would it be interested in reading these stories?
  6. The Press Herald is a good example of a paper reporting positive news.  They had a skilled facilitators, who were selected from the community to hold community forums where people came in from opposing sides of an issue.  These gatherings created greater respect and understanding with people feeling more connected and even exchanging phone numbers.  One of the stories was on alcoholism as america’s most deadly drug.
  7. Journalist role is to empower citizens to act
  8. Is their a story waiting to be told about white flight from the urban centers to the suburbs, regarding fear of the other?
  9. The highest incidence of violence and hate occur within the family, this story is largely taboo and under reported in the media, what prevent this? What is the role of Love and Forgiveness?
  10. Could we shift the reporting paradigm from crime reporting toward the idea of HEALTH AND SAFTY REPORTING.
  11. Check out Jane Ellen Stevens interview on work pages 8-10 of our pre-meeting interviews.
  12. What type of beat might capture love and forgiveness stories … you might be able to link a local reporter as a mentor with community leaders who could serve as stringers of stories on love and forgiveness.  This could be done with non-profit leaders, clergy, social workers, community non-profits etc. These individuals could act as shadow journalists and enrich the view of the local community, these stories could be print or even on-line to reduce costs. Could be called THE OTHER SIDE OF THE NEWS or TOOL FOR LIVING
  13. A civic action beat is done by about 20% of existing print and broadcast media.
  14. What role might bloggers play as shadow journalists.
  15. Perhaps local non-profits and community groups would be will to underwrite the cost of two pages in the newspaper that would support the cost of shadow news.
  16. Love and Forgiveness is the place people live in real life, so it is a real and practical story that could find a loyal readership.
  17. Many journalist are in a state of self-doubt and would be open to and benefit from a program that would nurture the health journalist – this could look at the relationship between inner renewal and outer stories that provide positive tools for living.  This work could reach out to rising/emerging journalists.  It could be helpful to have a password protected website.  The site could provide support, best practices, cross-media sharing. You could probably get a group of volunteer mentors/coaches who would be eager to make media more positive.
  18. Fetzer’s unique contribution would be the nurturing of the inner life of the journalist, no one is doing this .
  19. How can commerce (publishers) and green space (creativity, formation) coexist
  20. What if we combined a journalist renewal program with the shadow paper and connected those groups through a best practices learning portal. There could be a public side of this site that could engage a civic conversation on healthy journalism. A good example of this type of website is www.myturningpoint.org a collaborative story telling portal as wells as the JAWS association of women journalists who hold an annual mtg. that makes space for the inner dimension of the journalist to be nurtured.
  21. Another connection to do formation work at state editors annual meetings.
  22. Your love and forgiveness mission could benefit from a media focus group to look at language that would bridge to the masses.
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Reflections on the day

Eric:   I was impacted by the stories of pain and suffering in the journalism profession, brought on by profits as the bottom line and humans and their environment as a sidebar.  Challenge:  How to work with what’s obviously a transition in the industry.

Nora:  This time together has been an eye-opener.  I’ve always enjoyed working with journalists in the trenches, and was wary of the “suits” like Jim and Chris.  They broke my stereotypes.

Scott:  I can’t stop thinking about the historic precedents.  What must it have been like when the printing press was invented, and those few people who could read and write contemplated a future when everyone could?  As an early step, how can we figure out how to bring Poynter into this process?

Karen:  When I think about journalism it’s not just daily reporting and news media stereotypes, it’s all aspects of storytelling in all media, film, etc.  It’s easy to point to journalism, but we need shifts across all the stories that we tell ourselves.

Chris:  I really liked Mr. Fetzers ideas about reality being both dark and light.  I’m intrigued with the separation of journalism from the business model.  My question is how can Journalism That Matters happen with journalists who are citizens without being tethered to the corporation?  Can we overleap the existing model?  I also question whether we’re too high minded and serious.  There’s an aspect of journalism that’s more blue-collar—sports, weather, obits, crossword puzzles, classified.  We need more fun, readability.  Thinking of how people receive stories.

Peggy:  Interested in the inner life of journalist.  The idea of new beats… mentoring citizen journalists.  If questions were asked from another angle, as a practice, the whole thing  can be transformed without much cost or other change.  It’s a simple experiment that could catch fire.

Linda:  Journalists are especially engaged in transmitting meaning.  I was struck with the woundedness in the profession, which is shared across other professions.  It seems that “formation work” in this profession could be bundled with more outcomes.

Jim:  Struck with my own passion around the future of our business.  This experience has opened up possibilities for what I do now.  I would like to help make a bridge between teaching leadership and more functional visioning within the media profession.  I don’t want journalism to collapse completely; it would be bad for the world to go back to the Middle Ages.

Stephen:  For the past two years, my burning question has been “What is it to be a citizen at this time?”  Media has not been very helpful.  The blogosphere is throwing a better party.  I have a sense of hope that in this work we can remake the “fourth estate” and its role for empowering citizens.

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What Matters

What matters

but it doesn’t

Some of the time

Much of the time

In the long run
both everything
and nothing

matter a lot

–James Broughton

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Excerpts from Pre-Meeting Interviews

Throughout the room, charts with summaries and quotes from the pre-meeting appreciative  interviews were displayed:


  • That journalism can be passionate again.
  • Curious, courageous, and compassionate.
  • Today’s working journalists provide a bridge and pathway to future generations.
  • Play to journalism’s strengths: depth, context, perspective.
  • Journalism becomes more interactive.
  • More diverse voices.
  • Supports the telling of tough stories.
  • Be prouder of itself.
  • Collaboration makes journalism stronger and more fun.
  • Be bolder, willing to try something different.
  • Organizations know they are contributing.
  • Portray people overcoming barriers and understanding each other.
  • Survival; solution-oriented, contextual storytelling.
  • More conversations around sustainability, peace-making, bridge-building.
  • Vehicle for intimate public discourse.
  • Lift up complex interrelatedness of issues – getting to values.
  • Increased grassroots journalism.

Essence of Journalism

  • Desire to challenge power and connect the dots in a complex world.
  • Connection to public life/clarifying stakes and choices.
  • Curiosity.
  • News sense.
  • Pulling back the covers.
  • Depth, context, perspective.
  • Stories that help individuals reflect on the opportunities and challenges in their personal lives, family, community, and the larger world.
  • Information with integrity.
  • Pursuit of the truth, both on part of reporter and audience.
  • Identifying all points of view in the essential data of the story.
  • Being a community storyteller.

  • How might we learn from those who keep and translate story?
  • How might we impact a larger/more accurate rendering of
    • Whole-story news
    • Deeper news?
    • How do stories transform communities?

Fetzer Story Group

What’s the role of media in helping us pay attention?

Cole Campbell

Collaboration is the wave of the future: among journalists, between journalists and audience.

Matt Thompson

Storytelling is part of human DNA and journalists are one of society’s storytellers.

Jane Ellen Stevens

When you use media that get outside old structures, something amazing can change.

Kim Spencer

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This is It

and I am It

and You are It

and so is That

and He is It

and She is It

and It is It

and That is That

it is This

and it is Thus

and it is Them

and it is Us

and it is Now

and Here It is

and Here We are

so This is It

– James Broughton

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