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The Changing News and Information Ecosystem: What Can You Do?

How can you contribute to a healthy journalism ecosystem?

 
   

Picture a news and information ecosystem that not only informs, but also engages, inspires, and activates. Imagine journalism that helps us navigate through uncertainty, contextualizing conflict and struggle within aspirations and hope.

Envision telling stories of possibility, highlighting diverse voices, using diverse forms, and engaging with each other around them.

How do we do it?

Journalism is no longer a spectator sport. Whether you are a journalist, an educator, a technologist, or a member of the public, get involved in creating a news and information ecosystem that meets the needs of communities and democracy.

The dominant narrative of how we organize to get stuff done is shifting from hierarchies to networks. No longer just from the top, change happens when people take responsibility for what they love. So join a hub of activity, as many are already doing. Or link people and organizations to each other. Journalism That Matters (JTM) aspires to be a learning hub for connecting journalism innovators. So tell JTM about what you’re doing by commenting below and join the conversation.

If you’re not sure where to begin, I offer some ideas: 


Learn about change. We live in interesting times. Disruption is a normal part of the landscape. The more each of us understands change, the better equipped we are to work with it. Resources abound! My book, Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity is one roadmap.

 
Seek possibilities. Turn deficit into possibility by asking questions that uncover hopes and aspirations. Questions like: given what’s happening, what’s possible now? Or what’s the best possible outcome from this situation?  

Many people focus on what they can’t do, what the problems are, what isn’t possible. When someone says, “The problem is x,” ask, “What would it look like if it were working?” If someone says, “I can’t do that,” ask, “What would you like to do?”  

Invite others to join you.  You can have more fun and help each other grow into the habit of asking possibility-oriented questions. Over time it will change the nature and quality of our discourse.


Engage. There's something for everyone in the emerging media landscape. Take a course in media literacy. Or teach one.

If you are a journalist, remember: engagement is essential for journalism to be relevant and trusted in the digital world. Take the TAO of journalism pledge to be Transparent, Accountable, and Open. Check out resources on engagement at J-Lab, including the 2012 Report on Engaging Audiences. The Poynter Institute has a variety of articles about engagement. Or take a look at the ideas in my earlier post on engagement.

If you are not a journalist and you have a story to tell, do so. Whether text, audio, video, or other media, provide content for a news outlet, your own blog, or social media. If writing isn’t for you, find media that cover places and issues that matter to you and jump in. Point family, friends, and groups that you are part of to stories that you think make a difference.

Use social media, like Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook, to discuss stories with friends and strangers. Or to share what you learn about using social media. Comment on stories that move you. Organize around them. If fact, learn about hosting conversations. The National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation is a great resource for practices and people.

In other words, whatever your roles in the ecosystem, make media, share it, and use it.


Invite diversity. We spend so much of our time with people like ourselves! Whenever you engage with media, notice who else needs to be involved and speak up. Reach out. Support media makers who tell stories that incorporate diverse perspectives. And remember, if you wish to engage with people from a different age, race, culture, etc., go to them. Be humble. Listen. Learn. They are more likely to join with you if they see that you are interested in a respectful partnership.


Ultimately, these actions are not just about the quality of our news and information. They are about cultivating societies that are compassionate, creative, and wise. Able to deal with whatever complexities come our way. Each of us has a role to play. So step in.
 

Got something to contribute?
 
A tip? An article? I’ve started gathering resources. Please add by
 
Unless you explicitly request otherwise, I will post comments sent via any of the above in the comment space on this page.
 

Follow up on last week’s post, An Expanded Purpose for Journalism

Email was still the primary vehicle of choice for responding, though Facebook also brought some comments.  Jane Stevens, Founder, editor of ACEsTooHigh.com, offered the example of WellCommons, Lawrence Journal-World’s local social journalism health site.  I’ll be saying more about the award-winning WellCommons in the next post in this series.  So stay tuned!
 
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This blog was originally posted on the Journalism That Matters site. It is reposted here in its original form and with permission.

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Peggy
Holman

Since 1991, Peggy Holman has supported organizations and communities to uncover creative responses to complex challenges by using innovative engagement processes. The Change Handbook (Berrett-Koehler, 2007), which she co-edited with Tom Devane and Steven Cady, documents a variety of these processes. The book is the considered the definitive resource for leaders and consultants who work to increase resilience, agility, collaboration, and aliveness in their organizations and communities.

Peggy co-founded Journalism that Matters (JTM) in 2001 with three career journalists – Chris Peck, Cole Campbell, and Stephen Silha. JTM generates innovations by convening, connecting, and inspiring the diverse pioneers who are shaping the emerging news and information ecology.

Peggy’s latest book, Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity, came out in September 2010. The book supports people in facing disruptions and inviting others to join with them to realize new possibilities. It uses numerous journalism stories as examples.

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Both journalists and the public have a role to play in reinventing journalism that supports communities to thrive. I see journalists grappling with two bedrock elements of their work: their relationship with truth and the ethics of engagement.

During times of upheaval, we need stories that are inclusive, generative, and inspire us to engage. Some journalists are starting to provide them.

Envisioning what the news and information ecosystem looks like contributes to creating it.

Innovation demands diversity, using our differences creatively.

Engagement increases respect, appreciation, and partnership between journalists and communities. In 1775, the American Revolution launched an experiment in engagement called “democracy”. That sparked a critical need for an informed public and ignited a mass literacy movement.

Journalism can help us envision and move towards a world that works for all.  Journalists have a unique role as storytellers, influencing the cultural narrative that weaves society together. Through my work in organizations, I know that when the stories people tell about the organization change, so does the culture.  The same holds true on the scale of a society.  

What does a re-vitalized, economically viable journalism that meets the needs of communities and democracies look like?