"We start with the assumption that, on any given story, there is someone in the audience who knows more about it than we do . . . Our goal at Minnesota Public Radio is to tap into that audience expertise and do it in a way that is large, engaging thousands of people, and directly impacts the journalism that we do, the quality of the journalism and the way we make story selections."
Mike Skoler, managing director-news at Minnesota Public Radio, in an essay about the Public Insight Journalism Project posted at J-Lab.
"Michael Skoler entered journalism more than 20 year ago, after leaving the French wine business and buying a book titled How to Be a Freelance Writer. His work in print, radio, and television has received numerous honors, including two duPont-Columbia Silver Batons, a Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award, and a Gold Medal at the International Radio Festival of New York.
Skoler is now managing director of news at Minnesota Public Radio, where he and his team are working to create a new model for journalism " one that consistently taps the insights and expertise of the public to strengthen news coverage. Skoler also leads a nationwide collaboration of public radio stations and networks. In November 2003, the collaboration presented Whose Democracy Is It?, a week of live events and special radio and Web coverage exploring the health of American democracy.
Skoler's background is unusual in media. He bridges what is normally a sharp divide between the editorial and business worlds. After a decade as a science and foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, he earned an MBA as a Frank Batten Media Fellow at the University of Virginia. He then worked as a management consultant on his own and for McKinsey and Company serving mainly media and e-commerce companies.
From 1988-92, Skoler was a science correspondent for National Public Radio, where he captivated listeners with a story-telling style that made everything from physics to biotechnology comprehensible. In 1993, he moved to Nairobi to serve as NPR's Africa Correspondent. His four years in Africa began with reporting on the U.S. and U.N. intervention in Somalia and ended with the fall of Mobutu in Zaire. Skoler was awarded a duPont-Columbia Silver Baton for his stories on the Rwandan genocide and another silver baton for his role in NPR's team coverage of South Africa's first free elections.
Skoler's earlier experience included writing a daily, syndicated radio show for CBS, television reporting for WGBH in Boston, and freelance writing for magazines ranging from Glamour to American Health and Reader's Digest. He traveled and wrote for the popular Let's Go travel guides. He has taught and lectured on journalism both in the U.S. and Africa. And he received the prestigious Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University in 1992-93."