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"The New(s) England Revolution: From Politics to Courtroom to Classroom"


Wannalancit Mill entrance

A one-day interactive seminar drew more than 100 teachers, journalists, local and political bloggers, community videographers, public advocates and active citizens to Lowell, Mass., on Saturday, April 7 was the first event sponsored by the New England News Forum.


TO PARTICIPANTS: Please add your reports about individual sessions. Click on the title of the session in which you participated and use the wiki "edit" tab to cut and paste in your reporting or comments. Please include your name as submitter and contact information.

8 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.-- Pre-convening for facilitators / die-hards (Room 203)

An optional, informal reception/discussion for event facilitators, panelists and die-hard participants able to arrive first thing in the morning. Topic: What are the burning issues facing community journalism and civic engagement? An agenda-setting session.

8:30 a.m.- 9:30 a.m. -- Registration/ coffee/ tea / networking (Room 202)

Networking and registration among participants. Go to sections of the gathering space and adjacent rooms to link up with participants interested in specific topics including:

  • Room 203 -- Integrating news and current events in secondary-school classrooms
  • Room 205 -- Citizen blogging of community affairs and politics
  • Room 206 -- Defining journalism and the rights/roles of the journalist
  • Room 204 -- Assessing the quality of news

Starting at 9 a.m., convenors of the 9:30 a.m. concurrent sessions will be in their rooms so that you can have a chance to check-in with all presenters, not just the session you plan to join at 9:30 a.m.

9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. -- Breakout discussion sessions (roundtable format) (Second Floor)

Four sessions, led by convening experts, but arranged as much as possible by room logistics in a circle-round format with structured discussion among participants. Each session will begin with one or more propositions and end with a convenor's summary statement and proposed 'next steps' Remember: It's not an either/or proposition. After the main session, you can move at 10:30 a.m. to a session you missed and "get a fill" from the faciltator -- sort of an after-class briefing.

Lisa Williams
  • ONE -- A rising voice: Blogs as news in communities and politics, and how should traditional media be involved? -- (Room 202) -- Discussants -- Lisa Williams, (did not attend); Steve Garfield,; and Howard Owens, GatehouseMedia. Traditional news organizations are struggling to work out their relationship with bloggers and Internet-enabled creators of news. Williams is a local blogger, Garfield an expert on multimedia and video news; and Owens heads digital media operations for the group which owns most the weeklies surrounding Boston.
Christine Stuart
Steve Fox

Facilitators -- Mike LaBonte / Rory O'Connor (Newstrust hosts); Jon Greenberg, New Hampshire Public Radio; Steve Fox, and Public Insight Journalism); Patrick Marx, consultant. READING: Cole Campbell's vision of journalism that matters.

  • FOUR -- Building business networks: Resources and tools for New Engand -- (Room 206) -- Facilitators -- William Mass (UMass-Lowell, Center for Industrial Competitiveness); Tish Grier, Easthampton, Mass., free-lance writer and social-media consultant. What are New England businesses doing to take their brands beyond the neighborhood? A tutorial session on ideas for use of social media, new information tools, demographic resources, broadband networks and wifi for regional economic development.
Other proposed topics (see Meetups, below)

10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. -- Coffee/tea/exchange break (Room 202)

Participants can get coffee, mingle informally, or move from their 10:30 a.m. breakout location to one of the other three breakout locations, where 9:30 a.m. facilitors will remain for conversation and to summarize discussion and findings. ALSO: A board to post impromptu gathering locations for networking during the afternooon networking period.


11 a.m.-noon -- SESSION ONE -- Journalism That Matters -- Examples from the front (Room 206)

Submit your examples of "journalism that matters" to, then join this session as we present capsule case-studies of the best half-dozen examples or more from New England. Learn about cases where citizens and journalists have worked together to produce news, information and insight that moves a community in a positive direction. Facilitator: Eesha Williams, author, "Grassroots Journalism."

11 a.m.-noon -- SESSION TWO -- Teaching That Matters -- Putting civic education back in the classroom (Room 203)

What's going on -- what should be going on -- in New England's schools? A best-practices sharing session among the region's educators -- and students. Can real-world issues be a part of every class? Should they? How much do high schoolers know about the First Amendment? Facilitators: Warren Watson (Ball State Univ.); Rob Williams (Action Coalition for Media Education/Champlain College); Julie Dobrow (Tufts University); Steven Wilmarth, Center for 21st Century Skills, Litchfield, Conn.

Watson will preview new research about school principals and First Amendment

Neal Peirce

11 a.m.-noon -- SESSION THREE -- The New England Common -- Regional issues resource? (Room 204)

Among the regions of America, New England may be better know worldwide than any other. But what are New England businesses doing to take their brands beyond the neighborhood? And how can you become more involved in building civic collaboration and action on New England issues? An update on the New England Futures Project. Conveners: David Soule, UMass-Lowell; William Mass (UMass-Lowell, Center for Industrial Competitiveness); George Hamilton, president, Institute for Sustainable Communities, Montpelier, Vt. Neal Peirce (CitiStates), Jonathan Weber ( Additional resource: Jason Rudokas, Univ. of N.H., Carsey Institute. )(Rudokas did not attend)

noon-12:15 p.m. -- Break -- Consider using this time to check whiteboards in room 202 for information about 3 p.m. "meetups" -- call one, sign up for one!

12:15 p.m.-1:15 p.m. -- Box lunch and keynote speaker: Vermont Gov. James Douglas
(first floor conference room)

Enjoy a tasty box lunch and listen to the day's keynote speaker: Vermont Gov. James Douglas, who will outline his state's efforts to guarantee broadband Internet to all its citizens as well as his role as current chairman of the New England Governors' Conference. Introduction to Gov. Douglas' remarks by New England News Forum Director Bill Densmore and Richard Anderson, founder,, Rockland-Camden, Maine. Come prepared to discuss with the governor, and audience experts, efforts to improve New England's broadband infrastructure.

1:15 p.m.-2:45 p.m. -- Panel: Does journalism -- or blogging -- merit a shield? (Room 204)


A blogger is imprisoned in California for refusing to turn over videotape of a demonstration. Is he a journalist? Can reporters be independent of government if prosecutors can subpoena and view their notes? All event participants are encouraged to join in this probing discussion which raises important questions for media professionals and citizens alike.

  • Facilitators: Jeff Newman, attorney; Bill Ketter, editor-in-chief, Lawrence Eagle Tribune.
  • Panelists: Jim Taricani, WJAR-TV, Providence; Charlie Kravitz, New England Cable News (invited); Sarah Olson, independent journalist; Updating on filing of shield bill in Mass. Legislature; possible review of issues underlying the Maine blogger case.

2:45 p.m.-3 p.m. Networking break, cookies and juice

A second chance for general mingling and networking and for finding the location of the end-of-day meetups. Check whiteboards in Room 202 for posted meetup locations.

3 p.m.-4 p.m. -- Meetups to exchange ideas/next steps (rooms assigned ad hoc)

Based on ideas proposed during the morning networking break, we post at least four room locations for end-of-day meetups with designated facilitators. The emphasis will be on finding shared projects to pursue and engagement via the New England News Forum website.

460211403_1ca8e94906_t_d.jpg MEETUP TOPICS ALREADY SCHEDULED

Click on the topic to go to a detail page and to add your name to those interested in participating in the meetup discussion.

MEETUP: Fifth Congressional District candidates meet bloggers -- 3 p.m. -- First Floor

MEETUP: Building municipal wireless networks and government websites -- 3 p.m. -- Room 203

MEETUP: Tools for video newsmaking -- 3 p.m. -- Room 206

MEETUP: A conversation with new daily's editor -- 3 p.m. -- Room 205

MEETUP: Media's role in inequality -- options? -- Room 202 southwest corner

  • Education and Manufactured Hierarchy, Ben Melançon and anyone else interested: Some say U.S. society is growing more unequal and that the education system contributes to this change. Does the media have any role in doing or undoing this? What should it be?

MEETUP: Newstrust and rating the news Room 204

  • A session about the non-profit website which is building a social network around find and presenting quality news as judged by the audience.

Robert Cox

AFTERNOON SUMMATION -- 4 p.m.-5 p.m.

Has blogging gone mainstream media? -- Room 204

A federal court in Washington assigns to seats to bloggers covering the Scooter Libby trial. A talk-radio hosts pastes together a citizen cable network in New Hamshire, avoiding broadcast TV. In this session we take an early look at the people and websites watching the New Hampshire presidential sweepstakes. A key ethical and business question looms over the news industry: What is journalism, who owns it and do people who "do journalism" deserve special consideration in law or otherwise? In this end-of-day session -- playing off the "shield law" panel earlier -- network with bloggers and traditional journalists who are already blogging and reporting on one of the most crowded fields of presidential contenders in memory. Help continue New Hampshire's non-partisan tradition as the nation's presidential issues petri dish. And consider this: As bloggers gain status as "journalists" what does this mean for traditional media? AN OPEN DISCUSSION AMONG PARTICIPANTS convened and led by: Robert Cox of the Media Bloggers Association, Arnie Arnesen, blogger/talkmaster,; Aldon Hynes, former blogger for the Howard Dean and Ned Lamont campaigns and Media Giraffe Project collaborator and Tish Grier, Dep. Director of Participation for Assignment Zeroand former Editor of Corante Media Hub.

5 p.m.-6 p.m. -- SNEAK PREVIEW -- "From Pamphleteers to Bloggers: Citizen Journalists At Work" (First Floor Conference Room)

Preview the first cut of a new one-hour video produced by the Media Giraffe Project at UMass Amherst documenting the motivations and work of citizen journals. Includes excerpts from the June 28-July 1 MGP2006 Summit as well as on-location interviews. You're invited to remain after the video to advise on what to cut, change or add.

The New England News Forum is funded in part by a seed grant from the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation