Project Manager/Facilitator: Pete Shively
Project update – Dec. 1, 2016: This project’s discussion guide, Tomorrow’s News: The Future of Journalism and Our News Media (28 pages/1MB), is now completed and available to either view online or download. To view this discussion guide online, click on the cover image to the right. To download a PDF copy, click on the preceding text link or on the blue download button in the sidebar to the right.
This project explores and prompts participants to develop multiple and contrasting answers to some of the following broad questions and concerns about our news media.
What do we mean by the “news media”? Does it—or should it—include the press, newspapers, journalism, news or current event magazines, broadcast & cable news (TV, radio, internet), the blogosphere, media outlets, mainstream media, independent journalism, investigative journalism, reporting, infotainment, commentary, the commentariat, the punditry, the 4th Estate, and/or the 5th Estate? What are the boundaries to journalism? Are they changing, how, and for better or worse?
Relatedly—and perhaps more important—what role or roles does “it” play in our society?
- Is it essential to an informed citizenry and the healthy function of any open society?
- Does it provide a necessary counterweight to concentrations and abuses of power—whether by the government or by the private sector?
- Does it—should it—expose or help us determine the truth?
- Does it, must it, entertain? Does getting it first, getting it right, or getting some good video matter more?
- Does it refine, summarize, clarify, and seek to explain a complex and often murky world; does it “democratize” information, converting it to knowledge?
- Does it—should it—seek to educate, edify, enrage, spur us to some action, and/or further “social transformation”?
- Objectivity, being “fair and balanced”, should journalists just report “the controversy,” avoid or engage in “false equivalencies,” or seek to find or determine the truth? How much authority should they—must they—assume, and what is its source?
- Journalistic standards and ethics? What are they? Can journalism be a profession?
- What is the relationship of journalism to the state? Censorship? Spin? Talking Points? Sponsorship? What are the intersections of (challenges inherent in) the “freedom of the press,” the right of free speech, law, privacy, national security?
- What about the economics of the news? How should we pay for our news media? And how is technological and societal change affecting the business? Is print dead, on life support, or just aging?
This project explores these and other questions that may arise in small-group discussions of this topic. The discussion guide for this topic is now freely downloadable and available in print at no charge to schools, community organizations and individuals interested in discussing the topic. See above for links to download and/or request print copies.
If you want to find out more about this project, please email Pete Shively.