The TAO of Journalism: Are Transparency, Accountability and Openness Important in the New News Ecology?

Submitted by John Hamer on Mon, 03/02/2009 – 12:42pmi

Session Convenor: John Hamer, Washington News Council

Session Reporter: John Hamer, WNC

Discussion Participants: Robin Miller, Tom Stites, Michelle Ferrier, Peter Block

John Hamer, Session Convenor, explained how the Washington News Council has worked for 10 years to try to encourage Transparency, Accountability and Openness (TAO) in the news media in Washington State. He explained the WNC’s complaint process, and described the latest case – a complaint by Washington’s Secretary of State, Sam Reed, against KIRO7 TV, the CBS affiliate in Seattle. He noted that all of the documents on the complaint, plus the KIRO stories, were just  posted on the WNC’s website ( He said we have invited the public to weigh in as a kind of “Citizens Online News Council,” but it was just posted last Friday and we don’t have much reaction yet.


Your health is under threat, with the financial problems in the media.

How does journalism achieve trust of the reader/viewer/user/participants? We live in this culture of comprehensive distrust of institution, with the media taking up the rear.


What’s the truth of this (i.e., mistrust)? Why aren’t we trusted? What do we do to earn this trust?


If you actually had TAO in the media, you might start to earn it.


Who could you find that would be committed to restoring and rebuilding trust in the media?

Crank up the retribution on those who have sinned. Do public declarations.

Who is your constituency? Who cares about whether you exist or not?

If you’re not sure, let it go.


How can you put your energy and that of your backers, to pursue your goals?

If the tool you have is no longer sharp enough, you need new tools.


Change your tagline to: An Independent Forum for Rebuilding Trust in the Media.

That’s interesting, because the issue of trust is a huge issue in the media. It’s an important factor.

You should change that phrase, because there would be a lot of interest in that.

About Peggy Holman

Peggy Holman supports organizations and communities to uncover creative responses to complex challenges using innovative engagement processes. The Change Handbook, co-authored with Tom Devane and Steven Cady, documents many such processes. The book is the considered the definitive resource for leaders and consultants working to increase resilience, agility, and collaboration in organizations and other social systems. Peggy co-founded Journalism that Matters in 2001 with three journalists to support the pioneers who are shaping the emerging news and information ecology. Peggy’s latest book, Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity, supports people facing disruptions to invite others to join them in realizing new possibilities.
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