Re-Imagining Journalism: Local News for a Networked World

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A White Paper on Recommendations 1 and 3 of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy
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Knight Commission on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy
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Journalism & Media Innovation, Engaged Communities

Re-Imagining Journalism: Local News for a Networked World, a new policy paper by Michael R. Fancher, identifies five strategic areas and specific ideas for promoting experimentation, collaboration and public engagement that are critical for reforming local journalism. The paper calls upon a variety of stakeholders in business, the nonprofit sector, government and community institutions, and citizens themselves to each play a role in nurturing a revitalized and re-imagined local media ecosystem.

The five key strategies for re-inventing local journalism include:

  1. For-profit media organizations must re-invent themselves to extend the role and values of journalism in interactive ways.
  2. Not-for-profit and non-traditional media must be important sources of local journalism.
  3. Higher education, community and non-profit institutions can be hubs of journalistic activity and other information-sharing for local communities.
  4. Greater urgency must be placed on relevance, research and revenues to support local journalism.
  5. Government at all levels should support policies that create an environment for sustainable, quality local journalism.

In particular, Fancher calls on leaders of local print and broadcast media to spearhead the creation of regional and local collaborative news networks that meet the information needs of their communities. These interactive news networks are part of a broader set of strategies for re-inventing local journalism that are aimed at addressing the need for media policies that foster innovation, competition and support for business models that provide marketplace incentives for quality journalism and envision new roles for universities and community institutions as hubs of journalistic activity.

Fancher served for 20 years as executive editor of The Seattle Times. Under his leadership, The Times won four Pulitzer Prizes and was a Pulitzer finalist 13 other times. Fancher serves as co-convener of Journalism That Matters Pacific Northwest, advises other local journalism projects and is vice-president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government.

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