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06 2009
Concept + PDF Proposal

In the age of digital media, how do we preserve / save / revive journalism by design? A project co-initiated by Claudine Boeglin and Paul Pangaro*

What roles are left to professional media in news coverage, field reporting, criticism, and analysis? What is journalism in the age of citizen journalism? Discussions of these issues and speculation about solutions abound. But there is currently no democratic form of active reflection about the fundamentals of journalism and, by extension, what defines citizen journalism. In the short history of the Internet, digital media have affected the revenue models of many major business sectors. Fundamentals of marketing and advertising have shifted without concern to anyone outside those industries, but there is deep fear that journalism itself is threatened.

While “a free press is a condition of a free society”*, how does journalism survive when newspapers can no longer afford to pay reporters out of dwindling advertising revenues? User-generated content provides a deluge of zero-cost content, but of what quality?
* [Justice Hugo Black, Associated Press v. United States, 326 U.S. 1, 20 (1945)]

The Global Reporting Room project is engaging experts in old and new media to articulate the value of journalism to the individual, region, state, society, and culture. We are creating resources to access this value in the form of:

1. Conversations, already captured, those taking place in corridors as well as those to be recorded, that push the problematique layers deeper, with the clear goal to find a vehicle for the future of journalism.

2. Video recording of this moment of transition in media making, distribution, display, and financial viability.

3. Visualization of the ecosystem of journalism in the form of a concept-map, that will serve as:

A poster for curriculum programmers expressing the fundamentals of journalism, to be used by schools, foundations, and international organisations focused on training in independent media.

A template for media programmers reflecting the history, rules, and obligations of journalism, such as seeking truth, fact checking and independent thinking, with an awareness of the strengths and limits of new as well as mainstream media.

A blueprint for software programmers defining journalistic processes such as fact checking, fact relevance and compilation of existing sources, as design guidelines within fundamental limits of computational tools and not to the replacement of human judgement.

* Pangaro is a conversation theorist, CTO of CyberneticLifestyles.com and member of the faculty of SVA's Interaction Design department.

It’s not only journalism that is now struggling to plot a path to survival. But, with all due respect
to show business, it’s only journalism that’s essential to a functioning democracy.

Frank Rich – The New York Times