Networked Journalism Education

Notes: Conversation with Mike Fancher

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News Curriculum Subcommittee
Oct 3 2011

Present: Alan, Howard, Rosemary, Donica, Paul
Guest: Mike Fancher

We invited Mike to talk with us about the changes he sees in journalism, based on his career as executive editor at the Seattle Times and his recent fellowship at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Mike has written a white paper on Re-imagining Journalism: Local News for a Networked World and participated in writing the report of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy: Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in a Digital Age. You can read an interview with him here: An interview with Mike Fancher, author of “Re-Imagining Journalism: Local News for a Networked World.”

Here is a summary of his comments:

The standards of craft and character are still vitally important. The “Journalist’s Creed” still matters. But, this is no longer enough. We also have to engage and collaborate. Our institutions have to embrace this new reality.

Journalism is at an incredible moment of opportunity. Journalism institutions don’t need saving; they need re-creating. Journalism should be practiced much more widely that it is and we should have a role in helping make that happen.

The vision of journalism embedded in the Knight Carnegie Commission in Journalism Education doesn’t fully recognize this new reality. The model of journalism embedded in many journalism education programs isn’t sustainable – and there’s not a lot of evidence that it’s wanted or maybe even needed.

We need to learn to work within networks, not institutions. Then we will get more engagement among and across groups.

What does commitment to the public good mean? What is community engagement? It means getting really good at convening. It means you have deep community knowledge. It’s about public service verification, about engagement with people, clear communication, storytelling with a multitude of tools and training people to participate in the journalism process.

It’s about reporting what we know and what we don’t know. It’s about being deeply embedded in the communication flow and helping to vet the flow as it happens. It’s about bridging social capital through social media – helping the conversation be productive. It’s about reporting in a deeper and broader way. Being good at problem solving. Community building, business literacy and data visualization.

When we think about ourselves or our students as journalists we need to consider: What brings us to this work? What motives us? We need a deep and abiding commitment to our place in the community. (“Culture eats strategy any day.”) (See Stephen Ward‘s work as well as Howard Gardner’s Good Work project)

The mind shift is this: journalists often think of journalism as the center of the universe. It’s not! We revolve around community too.

Our mantra: Excellence, ethics, engagement (from Gardner)

One strength is our cross collaboration across tracks within the school as well as our willingness to work cross platform. Media literacy has real potential to the student body and the public. Cross pollination across disciplines is key. Seek rich cross-fertilization.

Comments from the faculty:

Howard: Establishing a foundation in community engagement should be baked in from day one. It’s worth the investment.

Alan: The way we set up students now is good – this is the next level. They need to be proficient in community engagement just as they need to be proficient in other journalistic skills. Do we need one dedicated course in community to really understand this layer?

Paul: He can see the need for this after working with editors in his editing class.

Rosemary: We’re not talking about a tool set, but a mind set. “It’s not an institution – it’s a function.” We have to start early. And (Alan, here) we have to help the community understand the shift as well.

Written by Donica

October 9th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

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