Hello everyone,I’m just back from “Elevate Engagement,” a conference sponsored by the non-profit Journalism That Matters and the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication.
What’s one take-home from this conference? A new understanding about the pervasive lack of trust in journalists.
There are many reasons for this. We journalists have missed essential stories and failed to cover our communities — domestic and global — fairly and adequately. We’ve failed to investigate. To challenge. And importantly, to shine a light on the good in the world, the way in which people are solving problems and making progress.
But the answer – in my opinion – isn’t to abandon journalism. Rather, we must strengthen the skills of professional journalists with rigorous mentoring, training and ethics. And, we must encourage the critical thinking of citizens with, among other things, a strong dose of media literacy.
I was invited to this conference by Stephen Silha, co-founder of Journalism That Matters (for more on the organization click on the photo directly above). Stephen is the son of the late Otto A. Silha, who was president and publisher of The Minneapolis Star and Tribune
in the 1970’s. The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota, established with an endowment from Otto and Helen Silha, focuses on “the ethical responsibilities and legal rights of the mass media in a democratic society.”I think the Silhas had it right. Despite all the noise and the disruption of the internet, the basics have never changed. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need fact-based, nuanced, contextual, deeply researched and vetted journalism – with a strong standard of journalism ethics. Democracy in our increasingly interconnected world depends on it. (If you’re curious about journalism ethics, click here
for the Round Earth Media policy in journalism ethics to which all of our journalists subscribe.)
Everyone attending the conference — from journalists, to community members to foundation program officers — is engaged in this issue as never before in my lifetime. I’m hoping to have some down time over the holiday weekend to ponder what I heard from all of these competing, passionate voices. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, everyone!
Round Earth Media