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The Journalism that Matters Consortium

This consortium proposal was initiated on a teleconference Sept. 19, 2006 led by Stephen Silha and Peggy Holman. Subsequent edits have been done by Sue Ellen Christian, Peggy, and Stephen. The notion is that a consortium of approximately five geographically distributed U.S. academic and media institutions would lead. For background see: http://www.mediagiraffe.org/wiki/index.php/Jtm-call-notes


To create regional hubs among a coalition of five geographically-distributed academic and media institutions that connect journalists -- both professional and citizen -- in a learning network to support each other in producing projects and stories that foster participatory democracy and healthy communities.


  • Equip journalists to effectively engage the public in dialogue around questions that matter for strong, healthy communities
  • Articulate and spread the emerging principles of journalism grounded in its traditional foundations while integrating new practices to meet the needs of individuals, communities and our changing society
  • Develop a strong network among journalists, educators, new-media-experimenters and citizens who are shaping the future of media
  • Support this network in learning and growing as individuals to face the challenge of changing the culture of journalism


The leadership project would achieve its mission through growing a network of professional and citizen journalists that is committed to the essential roots of journalism while defining new practices for today's society. It would:

Convene face-to-face gatherings of professional journalists, journalism educators and/or citizens to continue to develop and seed ideas, evolve relationships and create experiments that contribute to a healthy news ecology in any given community.

Incubate developing blueprints for innovative experiments in media, provide an assessment of needs and serve in evaluating ideas.

Equip network participants and their local news ventures with: skills for engaging the public in dialogue; links to innovators; access to a network of other experimenters; a safe haven to assess failures as well as successes.

Engage professional journalists in reconnecting with their passion for their craft; educators developing journalism students who connect with their local communities and democratic life; journalism organizations dedicated to new media grounded in essential principles of journalism.


The results of the leadership coalition would be measured both qualitatively and quantitatively through various methods, including surveys, personal narratives, and focus groups. The intended outcomes include:

  • Increased public involvement in civic and government affairs
  • Fostering a feeling of connectedness among citizens in communities
  • Increased commitment to traditional foundations of journalism that serve us well
  • Cultivation and support of multiple experiments on the local level with regional support available
  • Connecting practitioners in a social network so they can continue learning from each other
  • Collaborating with organizations and schools with similar aims
  • Fostering and enhancing quality public conversations within communities
  • Positively impacting individuals and communities
  • Ongoing participation by people in the network