ACTION: The Media Giraffe Project three-year program

In April 2005, The Media Giraffe Project (MGP)  began a three-year action program with the launch of our website.

The three-year program  includes  research, communication  and education:

  • COMMUNICATE -- Through the website, conference, a book and a documentary film, we are communicating the stories of the most motivated, effective and sustainable giraffes.  We intend the book will become a "must read" in schools of journalism and mass communications, as well as in business schools, and can be regularly updated.  Filmmaker Mary Mazzio will select five of the "giraffes" for more extensive filming and interviewing, focused on what motivates them to succeed.

  • EDUCATE -- With regional workshops, talks, curricula and multiple resources, we'll work with giraffes to help consumers create, find and support original, factual, fair and balanced media. As web technology makes it easier for citizens to create rather than just consume news, principles of journalist ethics and practice -- including fact gathering and reporting of diverse cultures and views -- need to become core-curriculum elements in high schools and colleges.

Citizens need help rating sources. For example, we are advising NewsTrust, a non-profit service that will rate and recommend news and public-policy websites, including blogs. The advice will come from: (a) aggregated recommendations of consumers and (b) professional journalists.

As  first-year research, the  MGP is currently:

  • Identifying, via our website,  individuals and collaboratives who are starting and supporting independent local and topical publications, electronic and new media -- profit, non-profit or cooperative.  More than 250 individuals have been identified for profiling.

  • Studying, through a June 29-July 1, 2006 conference,  the extent to which established media institutions and their managers are able, within the current media financing and regulatory structures, to treat the fostering of democracy as a primary mission. The conference will look at the structure of the U.S. media industry, the impact of the Internet on its financing models, including copyright, and how democracy may be affected.

 As second-year communication, the MGP expects to:

  • Publish -- via  the web, book, articles, documentary film and speaking engagements -- "how-to," step-by-step examples of individuals ("giraffes") using media in innovative ways that advance U.S. democracy.  The book will be a series of 15-20 human-interest profiles.  The one-hour film will feature five giraffes.

  • Seek and illustrate any market forces promoting media responsiveness to the information needs of a sustainable democracy, including support for literacy, civic participation and reflection of justice, equality, fairness, free-speech and open-government values.

  • Present ideas for structural rules changes, which might increase the competitive and marketing advantages of independent media and the responsiveness of established media.

As third-year education, the MGP proposes to:

  • Conduct workshops in major cities, using media giraffes as presentors, on best practices for democracy-and-community focused media consumption and creation.

  • Participate in the creation of high-school and college curricula which recognizes a profound shift in the relationship of citizens to media. They can now create rather than just consume. As a result, journalistic principles and practice are core curriculum which every citizen should learn.