About 200 journalists, community members, professors and students gathered to study questions related to the theme of "Journalism That Matters" earlier this month at the University of Washington in Seattle.
The energy, inspiration and dedication to getting journalism done right in this new era was palpable as conference participants decided on sessions to hold each day based on questions about issues in how to best reach the public through journalism today. A key point was that the communication model was not to be Sender/Journalist to Receiver/Audience. The audience was to be front and center and involved.
But since most folks I encountered began their careers or at least were trained in old-fashioned journalism (where the reporters and editors decide what's news each day), the discussions centered on transitions to today's world and audience and today's journalism, often not provided by a mainstream company.
Many reps from online journalism sites promoted their endeavors during the conference's first day, Jan. 7. Other journalists, several who were laid off when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer closed 10 months ago, talked about how they were becoming "entrepreneurial journalists," ones who find their own ways to make a living doing reporting for the common good.
One University of Washington prof said their school would be offering a course in entrepreneurial journalism this year. Should we all add that to our curricula? A course dealing with that would be interesting, but I think our students first need to be trained to be fast-working, productive journalists. After some education, the best training would still be found at a regular media organization. Then they could venture out on their own. What do you think?
The next Journalism That Matters meeting will be in Detroit from June 3-6. Check it out.