Bill's Notes Questions to consider:
- Conflict between pro and am journalists?
- Silo of pro and am; how to preserve valued reporting
- What about a code of ethics?
- Do we continue the “armslength” rules?
- How do we get the message out?
- Which communities? Which set of facts?
- Truth – legitimacy, reality, rigor, leading to trust?
- Compassionate journalism
- Community focus emerges from change?
- Conflict eased with transparency in process?
WHAT IS COMMUNITY?
- Community is “where I live” in geographical terms.
- Those people I meet at the grocery store; natural/people
- Not always geographical; could be Internet-based, topical / students / ethnic / activists
- How big is my community? Family, block, world
- Communities nest within communities, you serve them by showing different points of view.
- Focus more on serve rather than support (support seems overtly biased)
- Obligation: Accurate, relevant, honest info (truth more than facts)
- Put facts out there, let community decide; asking right questions
- Sort of a facilitator role
- Different frame on “community” – what is the publication or entity’s “community.”
- Intimacy with community helps you lean in direction of compassionate journalism
- We are a part of the community. But do J-schools teach that?
- You may serve your community by telling it what it doesn’t know it needs to know
- Compassionate doesn’t always mean soft pedal
- Saskia Sassen
- Culture as a term is more value based than community
- Conference insight: Journalism just providing info not working
- Not just data – need to provide relevance and context
SUPPORT COMMUNITY BY RUNNING PUBLIC FORUMS?
- Is this the facilitator function?
WHAT IS INDEPENDENCE?
- Why is objective a problem? Chris Jordan shows crossroads. “Objectivity” feels out of sync with what is needed
WHAT IS SUPPORTING COMMUNITY?
- Telling stories of regular folks?
- Empowering to tell their own stories?
- Support community building not just support community as static idea
HOW DO YOU SPEAK THE TRUTH?
- Small paper, seeing person at the post office
- Does the hospital have incompetent doctors?
- Media/facilitator position?
- Tell hard the truth and let the chips fall
- BUT, if we are siloed, do we not ever have to face the hard truths? Is that a problem?
- If you pick the right silos and go to many of them, you may create your own balance.
- Comes back to what publication are you writing for?
- Multiple communities represented; help create community
- Same struggle that has been going on for some time
- Not new questions for new media
- Journalism has the tools to meet this challenge/don’t need to create new
- More attention to role of facilitator
Begin Meeting Minutes/Notes:
Concerns over quality of journalism in this new media climate
Conflict for resources between career journalists and “amateur” journalists
Here to learn
Definitions have begun to break but how do we preserve the kind of news we think is important?
Interested in how to put together a code of ethics for new media/freelancing and also concerned that new media brings some of the ethics/values of established news organizations with us on this new journey.
Interested in issues of tone and emotional involvement in neighborhood blogs and covering specific intimate communities.
Interested in how to be considered “credible” even when you’re working with a different tone and perspective (positive solutions based reporting for example)
Is new to the industry, still a student, thinks community is important and thinks she could offer an important voice because she’s not “an insider.”
Interested in finding ways to find a broader audience and further involve the communities that are affected by the reporting.
How can we make sure that the stories of regular folks are told? How do we talk about the norm as well as the extreme?
Student at MCDM, wants to hear what people in the field are doing, but also interested (in the capacity of someone who works on veteran’s affairs) how to get messaging through so many new and different ways to publish.
Been everything from an international correspondent to citizen journalist and wondering when supporting a community mean telling their stories, or helping them tell their own (or something else)?
How do you criticize public services, public servants, politicians and other stuff (speak the truth) in a small community and a small town atmosphere? Are you more of a mediator or facilitator?
Which communities and which set of facts? Journalists are not just gathers of truth, they are filters. How is that constructed? What passes through and what doesn’t?
I’m part of the community that wants its story told (as a housing advocate), there are decisions being made that are really important and they need to be out there through media and journalism (this has real world effects), but it’s also really important to me that all the people telling the story are seen as legitimate and (maybe not “unbiased”) but true. I always trusted the media but realize I’m rare and I want that trust in journalism to be a part of our culture.
Interested in a sense of compassion in journalism and I want to write something about what that means.
Recently unemployed journalist, but thinks of it as an opportunity to embrace self-employment. Really interested in women led ventures and non-profits. Always considers herself a journalist no matter what else happens, whatever she ends up writing she expects to have a certain standard of rigor. Standards are important; we need to translate those standards into this de-centralized world of media.
Interested in what it means to support community in the emerging media climate.
I don’t see conflict between standards and new media, this is just all about transparency and calling yourself what you are.
Has the experience of writing big national stories to smaller community stories and was struck by the more feedback from smaller community. There are many ways that journalists can serve the community. But what is the community? Can you serve the community and be independent (and what does independent mean)?
What do we mean by community?
Cate: Where I live (the bioregional system as well as the people I meet at the grocery store).
Ranny: Community is of women, Asian Americans, Cambodian American, first generation, students, activists, feel like I fall into many communities beyond the one I physically live in (maybe not with a specific physical space).
Bill: Do you have to make a decision about how you support one community as a member and a journo?
Ranny: I give multiple perspectives; I can do a better job of writing because I can reach out to so many different communities.
Rob: How big is my community? Is it family? Block? The whole world? I think more in terms of world community. Can you report on what is going on in the world and still be talking about my community?
Bill: What about conflicts of interest (the community perspective of a landfill in your backyard as opposed to a global perspective of needing to responsibly put our trash somewhere). Or nuclear power plants. What about nimby(ism). How do we balance?
Kristin: Within any community there are several communities, “you serve the community and multiple communities by showing as many relevant points of view as possible.”
Athima: I think of there as a difference between “supporting” and “serving” what is relevant to them has to do with what “serves” them (support sounds biased).
Kristin: We are public servants we have a higher responsibility
Kristin: “To provide accurate relevant honest information.” Truth is more than facts. We need to be providing that truth in the most ethical way we can so that people are empowered to take action.
Bill: Great distinction (service/support)
Kristin: Maybe the newsroom provides the support to be working outside of your own point of view.
Kristin: You need to live ethically.
Dale: If I was writing about something that was happening in my neighborhood I would be honest about that conflict of interest, but also, in that case, serving as a facilitator is an important role. We need to ask the right questions and give people a platform.
Sally: You’re describing yourself as the facilitator
Dale: The story doesn’t end at facilitating (it has a life of its own beyond that)
Bill: How is what I write or broadcast going to affect the community? You would not apply that screen, you’re just saying do your job, inform your community serve in a facilitator role and the rest takes care of itself.
Dale: Well we do think about the impact of what we do. That’s a great question. Much of what we do is an experiment. We’re often surprised by the results. I know that the community is happy to have a voice, to be heard. This is about trust (which lends itself to participation and involvement).
Cate Gable: We’re looking at community as something that we’re involved in but maybe we need to think about ourselves as media makers as a community. Also interested in compassionate journalism, I’m also interested in how you get more feedback from hyperlocal reporting, that happens to us to, we have a lot of intimacy which I think helps you lean in the direction of compassionate journalism. Maybe this helps us too when we’re thinking about a city like Seattle
Ranny: We often forget that we are each individually part of a community, this affects how well we write (and it makes us better at what we do).
Dale: But do j schools teach that or do they teach us to be dispassionate?
Ranny: I’m learning that we’re supposed to be dispassionate, I’m new to this?
Rob: Are you supposed to disclose what communities you’re a part of?
Dale: Do you ever excuse yourself from a story?
Bill: I don’t want to tear down the community I lived in, but I knew that some stories we wrote were going to upset people, but I was making a conscious choice that recognized my obligations (and right) to challenge what people think is “serving” (even what I think). I think we got to a point where we became afraid to stick our necks out because we think it’s important.
Sally: We still need to make decisions about what is important to cover. The readers aren’t going to say ‘we think there might be a scandal somewhere would you please hunt it down?’
Ranny: We’re supporting the community by challenging them. I’ve been able to touch my community in a ways that haven’t been considered before.
Bill: Is this about eating your vegetables?
Kristin: Ethics isn’t just about not getting sued; sometimes you need to report about what is going to make people angry.
Matthew Stadler: Thinking about community beyond geography, this doesn’t have to be hyper local or global (it can be both). Check out the book “Deciphering the Global.” -- Saskia Sassen (especially how this has played out in cultural and political phenomena). Essential and recurring need is learning how not to doubt the impact we can have on our community (especially when we’re working in small numbers).
Rich: Think about being a part of the tennis culture, the woods culture, the advocacy journalism culture, etc., etc., I use that with students
Bill: Can we substitute the word “culture” for the word “community” the mass-market sense of the word “culture” could make for misunderstanding (are you talking arts and entertainment or your ethnic or socio political background).
Rich: There are subcultures within culture. The journalism culture does say the SPJ code of ethics, it does not say be a “facilitator” we facilitate in providing a public forum, facilitator does not make a value judgment and journalism does. You have to think about where you lie on the value system. “Serve without fear or favor” (SPJ code of ethics, etc., etc.) Journalism is in its nature activism. We are not talking about being a stenographer to power…Anyway the substitution of culture for community can be helpful.
Eileen: We’re trying to counter the problem of interpretation.
Kristin: We are not just giving out data, we are giving context and depth, etc.
Eileen: why aren’t our communities more involved?
Kristin: Because we’re not, because objectivity has meant not caring, how will readers feel anything if you don’t feel anything. We don’t tell stories anymore…we don’t have to choose a side we have to tell a story of the complexity of it. If we respected the readers more through the craft of our work they would trust us more.
Brooke: I think the question is more “how do we support community?” as in “how do we empower people?” Maybe this means recognizing how this story you’re involved in affects you.
Bill: Does “community building” cover it?
Sally: Is it about the intersection not the division?
Brooke: The stories are about relevance.
Bill: Journalism can support a process of community building that leads to healthy communities. Just saying that you’re going to “support the community” you need to go further back and support the process.
Brooke: We often (at Yes Magazine) focus on stories that serve as templates in many communities.
Bill: What about going back to telling stories vs. empowering people to tell their own. How do you do those two things differently?
Cate: Objectivity often feels out of synch with what is needed now. If you want to have a strong and passionate opinion you write an editorial, if you want to impart data you write a news story, if you want to help someone else tell their story it’s a different process.
Bill: Properly and insightfully done journalism is always about helping people tell their own stories.
Cate: When I talk to a specific person about a story I’m doing it’s different than them writing it about themselves.
Dale: You are acting as a facilitator every time you write a story
Cate: Again it seems to me like we’re saying we have to be objective and subjective but those roles are built into our work.
Dale: Story selection is subjective though.
Bill: Do you think technology is making the facilitator role easier or more important?
Dale: You are getting more voices than you used to get, now you get hundreds if not thousands of comments any day. A lot of it is garbage but a lot of it is good as well. The challenge is in sorting through it.
David: When you’re working with community how do you deal with things that are inherently controversial (and there are different perspectives). Such as “should we put fluoride in our water?” There’s a pile of letters to the editor on both sides. What is the role you have in a community when you’re somehow responsible for facilitating a conversation without resolution?
Bill: If you have a point of view, you say so in your editorials. If the publication or the blog is owned by an identifiable person then people filter from that point. You earn their trust when you give fair comment regardless of your point of view. My feeling is that if you are transparent about my point of view and then covered all POVs it built credibility for my side (and was inclusive).
Athima: What about the liability issue on comments on sites. If you don’t edit anything you aren’t responsible. People can be booted (moderated), you are creating that very probable chance that someone will liable someone else in these forums.
Rich: then you write in the terms of service that you can’t publish liable comments.
Dale: you just treat it as a service (not a publisher).
Kathy: You can’t make editorial comment
Bill: How should we wrap up this question of “what happens when your perception of the community interest is at odds with the popular opinion of the community?” Do you follow your nose or do you take a wet finger poll of the community and follow the community? What about the financial issue (donations, ads, etc.)?
Naomi: If your mission is to serve the community than you tell hard truths and the chips will fall where they may, especially if you present things as truthfully as you can. If you are only serving a certain group than you aren’t challenging people to examine their own opinions. I don’t see this enduring in the new media climate. There are all these political and cultural niches, and I don’t think I’m challenged as much as I need to be with the rigor with looking at my own arguments and examining that under scrutiny. I think that’s where we’re at.
Bill: If we’re silo(ed) do we never have to face hard truths?
Naomi: The two newspapers in Seattle helped keep people in the mix.
Bill: Last night I had three papers I wanted to read before I went to bed, but it used to be that you made much more conscious choices to make sure you are informed. I realized then what a harder challenge the paper has because it’s not as necessary for them to be giving you a survey of what’s happening.
Kathy: It used to be that local papers told you about what is going on, I still look at local papers but often they are just national and local
Sally: I keep coming back to this issue of geographic community. How can you be civic minded human being in a geographic location if you disassociate yourself from geography completely? (If you want local news you need to support it and consume it).
Bill: If you disconnect from the geographic location you disconnect from everything except what you already believe in.
David: This idea that special interest news sources can’t do good reporting doesn’t track. Mainstream sources often keep presenting issues from two sides when special interests are able to get outside of that false dichotomy. Are we assuming that white middle class journalist can suss out what the debates are better than special interest news sources? Maybe putting the onus on the citizen to investigate the issue through multiple sources is a good thing. Maybe they help to give the issue more nuanced and complex coverage.
Summary: Rob: This keeps coming back to what publication and what organization you’re writing for? I don’t think you can be objective.
Bill: I’ve got some fresh nuance on what it means to support community. Also the idea that we can represent, be from and be for multiple communities at one time.
Sally: I think the turn out for your session tells a story.
Bill: I think this is a difficult place that we’re at and I guess another observation I have is that I was expecting to hear more of a change and I haven’t.
Sarah: I feel like this is part of an ongoing conversation about “journalism” not necessary “new journalism.” (Objectivity, impartiality, transparency, truthfulness, conflict of interest, etc.)
David: I thought I would hear that journalist should get out of the way and let people tell their own stories.
Dale: There was a lot about paying attention to the role of facilitator as a journalist.
Ranny: I think if you’re doing your job well then you don’t have to get out of the way and let people tell their own story.
Dale: I’m feeling like in general journalists need to have more emotion and compassion in what they’re doing and that that needs to show through in their work. I think the era of the dispassionate journalist is over. [lots of agreement]
Rob: Seems generally good that more voices are being heard.