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June 26, 2006

Comments

Peter Porcupine

Just curious - were ANY conservative bloggers allowed to attend this event?

gus andrews

Like many posters so far I'm interested in rethinking "expertise," not just in journalism but in education and other professions as well. I feel like to a great extent, to really support democracy, media literacy needs to have a much broader scope and transfer the judgement of "expert" thinking to a greater number of individuals. I think it needs to include training to think like scientists, historians, engineers, social scientists, and journalists.

I would like to see us begin to think of media literacy more broadly as "critical thinking" in a Frankfurt School kind of a sense, and begin to advocate for funding, policy, and a place in the curriculum to support it. As a doctoral student I've begun to think the focus on media as a source of untruths which students should "decode" alienates students unnecessarily, and we should be encouraging them to consider the constructedness of society as much as we ask them to consider the constructedness of media.

I'm hoping to meet up with others from New York to strategize for local coalitions, and to get a clearer sense of the lay of the land in media literacy education, which is not a subject my department covers in depth. I'm also hoping to meet up again with UMass professors I worked with as a student at Hampshire a few years back!

(There's something wrong with this page -- there must be an unclosed HTML tag someplace, all the text shows up as a link to the front page and as a result you can't click on the comment fields without navigating away from this page... could someone fix? thanks...)

Elena Sassower

As director and co-founder of the non-partisan, non-profit Center for Judicial Accountability, Inc. (CJA), I would like to publicize our goldmine of primary source documents establishing the media's betrayal of its First Amendment responsibilities by its pattern and practice of refusing to examine -- and report on -- readily-verifiable documentary evidence of the corruption of the processes of judicial selection and discipline -- and the complicity of our highest public officers, including those seeking re-election and further public office.

Such media include The New York Times -- and the public officers whose scandalous records on judicial selection and discipine it has refused to report upon include New York's U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, running for re-election this year, with an eye to the White House in 2008, & New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, running this year to be elected Governor. Based thereon, we have brought a public interest lawsuit vs The Times, suing it for journalistic fraud, rising to a level of election-rigging. Our website, www.judgewatch.org, posts two press releases about this first-of-its-kind lawsuit, as well as the litigation papers. Among these, our cross-motion for summary judgment seeking removal of The Times' front-page motto "All the News That's Fit to Print" as a false and misleading advertising claim.

SEE the sidebar panel "Suing The New York Times" --and such other sidebar panels as "Press Suppression" and "Elections 2006: Informing the Voters".

Herb Moyer

As a "Publications" and "Videography" instructor, I would also like to get ideas of how to creatively incorporate blogs and community-focused video into my curriculum.

Herb Moyer

I am hoping to network with other citizen journalists who are working on one or more of the following issues threatening democracy:
* Electronic voting machine vulnerabilities and vote hacking/hijacking
* Voter intimidation
* Corporate control of the media
* Issue framing by the "right" & the "left"
* Lack of political accountability

I would also like to identify organizations with a similar mission as that of Democracy For New Hampshire in order to share successful strategies.
Our mission:

Democracy for New Hampshire is a nonpartisan big-tent organization that promotes grassroots community involvement in the democratic process in New Hampshire. DFNH works to protect the foundations of our democracy and the integrity of our political process and supports fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidates who speak honestly about policy choices.

www.democracyfornewhampshire.com

Jon Donley

It's time for professional journalists to snip away the trappings of elitism and define exactly what makes us important.

We're long past the day when a large company was needed to buy a press. Long past the day when a large company was needed to hire a newsroom. The glib answer to the internet is that "professional journalists" will always be needed. Indeed? Who says? We are not assured of that; even among ourselves, we have trouble justifying our existence. Much of what any news medium does is just being the middleman. And we've seen over the decades how many middlemen have fallen into irrelevance, while proclaiming their unique value.

I submit the once-common service-station attendant, who landed behind the convenience-store counter as full-service stations faded away. Yet once, it was claimed that cars would fall apart if an expert did not fill the tank, wash the windows and check fluids. Indeed.

I submit bank cashiers who insisted they added valuable customer service to the experience of withdrawing cash. How could anyone trust their finances to a machine? Indeed.

I submit travel agents who insist they add valuable service, as opposed to Expedia and Travelocity. Indeed. I suspect that few people heading for this conference arranged their travel through an agent.

I submit newspapers that insist their aggregation of classifieds is of incomparable value to Realtors, auto dealerships and job-seekers. Indeed. A dangerous claim in many markets, and wishful thinking in most.

I submit the typesetter, who lost his job with the advent of direct cold type from the newsroom. And the composing room, which disappeared in the face of pagination. And the darkroom technician who was replaced by Photoshop.

Middlemen all, whose jobs have become largely irrelevant. And now we professional journalists are watching a surge of technology and universal digital empowerment that draws our future into question.

Just to be clear, I believe professional journalism brings value to the table. But in the new information economy - and ecology - what is its role? Is it enough of a role to support itself economically? Stripped of its gatekeeping function - because the gates have been forever smashed open - and its economic premises, what future does professional journalism have? Rote answers will not save us.

And if professional journalism continues to exist in the long run - how will we work with the torrent of newly powered "civilian" journalists?

One assumes that many people lost their livelihoods as America moved from horses to automobiles. An intriguing exception is an carriage-building shop that created horse-drawn vehicles in Ohio. Rather than rail about the superiority and traditions of carriages, this shop saw the future and moved into the construction of automobile bodies. And that one-time small shop became one of the legendary marketing slogans of General Motors: Body by Fischer.

There is in this, perhaps, a lesson for professional journalism.

I hope this conference will help set the agenda for finding the answer for all of us.

Daniela Reif

I'm very interested in hearing more about how online media, in particular blogs, can influence public policy and how you can judge the quality of news blogs.

I would also like to meet individuals who have been involved in corporate blogging and hear about their experiences.

Overall I'm looking forward to having great conversations around citizen-journalism and bottom-up efforts.

Doug Battema

I would like to learn more about recent trends in journalism, to learn about resources I can point my students toward as I teach them how to become critical media consumers and producers, and to help foster responsible and principled journalism that counters the largely superficial pap that passes for journalism in much of commercial media.

Josh Wilson

In general, I look forward to meeting lots of active, thoughtful individuals, and engaging in this productive conversation face to face!

As the founder of Newsdesk.org (http://newsdesk.org/), one of my primary interests is to enlist allies in the creation of a high-quality, credible, commercial-free platform for professional journalists to produce and publish their work.

In general, I also hope to address, or at least raise awareness of, three essential journalism challenges that trump all other concerns before media reformers:

-- The problem of finance and funding. Until journalism can shake off the yoke of today's unrealistic profit expectations, it will continue to decline as a service to democracy. Jack Shafer noted in his recent Slate column (http://www.slate.com/id/2144201) that newspapers today are in fact profitable -- but are nevertheless "dying profitably" because they can't meet the 20%+ margins demanded by shareholders. This isn't a problem of journalism. This is a problem of the BUSINESS of journalism, and its effects on news coverage are pernicious. Don't think for a moment that the Internet is immune to this. It isn't. The likely future for the blogosphere is intense commercialization, as major media corporations snap up the biggest platforms and "incentivize" certain sorts of coverage by citizen media-makers.

-- The problem of quality control and credibility. This is a matter of signal-to-noise ratio. Journalists -- and professional journalism organizations such as the SPJ and Newspaper Guild -- are well-positioned to address this, and they should be encouraged to take leadership roles. News publishers themselves have an important opportunity to establish standards even as the Internet opens doors and explodes the "black box" of the 20th century's closed, one-way publishing methods.

-- The problem of distribution and access. It's not enough to simply publish something online, no matter how good it may be. People need to get to it -- and most people in the world do not have computers (digital divide!). Even in the richest nations, not everyone has the funding required to get online or subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (or whatever). Broadcast, print and Internet media are all part of a larger system, and there is room for innovation in developing new distribution and access models.

I'll be one of the participants on the Thursday morning panel, "Finding a New Definition of Journalism." See you there!

John Wilpers

I'd like to explore how the latest print media business model (free daily newspapers) can work with people operating on the internet platform (citizen journalists, bloggers, nonprofits, watchdogs, ad hoc activists, consumer advocates, etc.). Such partnerships would enrich both party's offerings as well as expand awareness of netizens' messages, activities, and points of view.

I have been the editor in chief of two of these free dailies (Boston Metro and The Washington Examiner). I see tremendous power and potential in the distribution reach of free dailies (e.g., 170,000 in Boston, 260,000 in DC) to inform readers of new ideas and drive them to seek more information and to act.

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