Networked Journalism Education

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Two-legged crisis

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According to Jay Blumler, journalism is facing two crises:

“…the journalism which services this polity is currently facing a crisis with two legs. One is a crisis of viability, principally though not exclusively financial, threatening the existence and resources of mainstream journalistic organisations. The other is a crisis of civic adequacy, impoverishing the contributions of journalism to citizenship and democracy.”(Blumler, Jay G. (2010) ‘FOREWORD’, Journalism Studies, 11:4, 439 – 441)

Plenty of journalism programs seem to be addressing the problem of viability — from Jeff Jarvis’s entrepreneurial program at CUNY to Dan Gillmor at ASU and a variety of others.

Who is working on a new approach to the civic leg of the problem? What innovations are we developing in the civic work of journalists and journalistic organizations? How might we tackle this problem in a systematic and trackable way in our curriculum and research? Some of the entrepreneurial work is as much about this problem as it is about financial models, but both deserve focused attention.

Written by Donica

July 11th, 2010 at 11:49 pm

A “great reboot” for news organizations

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Umair Haque has a Harvard Business Review post on “Google, China, and the New High Ground of Advantage” today that continues his theme on new capitalism. It’s made me think about how news organizations of the future can build on the high ground that Umair describes:

The old high ground was built for 20th century economics: sell more junk, earn more profit, “grow” — and then crash. An ethical edge operates at a higher economic level. It is concerned with what we sell, how profits are earned, and which authentic, human benefits “grow.” It’s a concept built for the economics of an interdependent world.

I could never understand how large scale news capitalists could sustain a business model that treated reporters like hamsters (as a Gannett reporter friend used to describe it) while funding lavish corporate expenditures. That’s a stereotype of course, and there were many exceptions, but in large part, ours was an industry that expended little energy on building the human capital of newsrooms and a great deal of energy on building the financial capital of corporate investors.

In this frustrating transition from the large corporate newsrooms of the 20th century to the smaller new organization of the future, we can’t just downside what we have. We have to start from fundamentally different premises:

It’s time for a great reboot. Today’s great challenge isn’t blindly building countries, companies, or households on a broken set of institutions. It is reimagining new institutions for a hyperconnected world. Answering that challenge begins, from my tiny perspective, with an ethical edge as the cornerstone of every kind of organization. Seeking an ethical edge is the truest test of a Constructive Capitalist.

The ethics he describes aren’t the rights-focused narrow conception of ethics taught in many j-schools today. It’s an ethics that encompasses the entire organization — not just reporters and editors, but publishers, human resource managers, community journalists and all of the organization’s participants — and places the entire organization within the context of the community in which it operates. This is not impractical. It’s the path to the economic and social future for sustainable news organizations. J-schools need to be one place that forge and build this new vision for journalists and their emerging new organizations.

Written by Donica

January 16th, 2010 at 7:32 am