Guest blog: Some see role for journalism as ‘a convener of conversations’

tn_jennifermcclure.jpg Editor’s note: On Wednesday Jennifer McClure, founder and executive director of the Society for New Communications Research, allowed me to reprint the first of two blog entries  she wrote from a journalism conference in Washington, D.C. Here is her second posting. This entry originally appeared in New Communications Review, of which she is managing editor. Without further ado let me turn you over to Jen:

Day Two of the Journalism that Matters gathering consisted of small group discussions, and highly interactive, action-driven workshops focused on a wide range of topics, including: how to better embrace citizen journalists in the next newsroom model, updating journalism education, encouraging youth to be more civic-minded and active, policy issues – including net neutrality and their impact on online journalism models, the development of new business models, etc.

The result was a wide range of innovative ideas, insights and some new initiatives that will occur in existing and new newsrooms over the bext several months. Here’s a sample of some of the participants’ comments and insights that they shared at the end of day:

“I have a new understanding that professional and citizen journalists can come together to produce something valuable – a new king of news model.”

“Journalism can transform itself from reporting only about problems to reporting on problems being solved in news ways.”

“We have a plan to collaborate with citizens – especially young people to re-energize the news.”

“We will start a community needs database.”

“Perhaps we need a new – or more names for “citizen journalism” to take into account that it’s not all what we traditionally think of as “journalism,” (uploading a photo, commenting, linking,…)

“We need to train citizens who want to act as journalists.”

“We need to better articulate to the public what it is that journalists do – how we do it and why it’s valuable.”

“Professional journalists cover stories because they are news; citizen journalists share stories because they are living them or passionate about them.”

“We should think about new business models based on the idea of a community newsroom and community supported news gatheirng.”

“We need to learn from those on the ground who are experimenting with new media tools and models and having success.”

“With more news consumption moving online, we need to consider policy issues like net neutrality, access to to the Internet, media consolidation and structural issues.”

“The role of the journalist is evolving into that of a convener of conversations among complex groups and issues. “

“We need to address this shift in journalism education and curriculum.”

“We need to consider whether just the vehicle of journalism is broken or is it journalism itself that is broken?”

“The values of journalism themselves need to change as we move tofrom the 1:many model to the many:many model of journalism. That requires a new covenant.”

“We need to invest in and encourage young people to be more civic-minded and engaged, and see them as leaders in this new world of journalism.”

“We need to better embrace ethnic communities in new journalism models and acknowledge and address the specific interests of these groups and provide relevant content to them.”

“We need to remember that this is a business.”

The event ended with many participants stating their commitment to starting, supporting, collaborating on and coaching others on “next newsroom” experiments. This action addressed the primary goal of the conference, which was to:

“Pick an ideal location, and start a news organization from scratch, using the best-available technology and ideas, and without the obligations or burdens of legacy processes or infrastructure. Where will it be, what will it look like, who will own it, and how will it run.”

We will be watching and reporting on these new initiatives in the coming months.