Journalism Is At the Critical Moment.

Posted on April 26, 2010 by Janet Coats

Decisions made now, paths pursued today will make the difference in what journalism becomes in a digital age. More importantly, they will make the difference in how civic conversation evolves – and that has everything to do with how successfully we govern ourselves in a democracy.

OK, so that sounds pretty darn grand. But that belief is what is motivating us at The Patterson Foundation’s New Media Journalism Initiative. We believe that enabling the kind of innovation that keeps community journalism vibrant results in improving a community’s conversation with itself about all the important issues – schools, crime, growth and development, the strength of neighborhoods.

A little background about why we’re in this fight. The Patterson Foundation derives its funding from the family wealth of Jim and Dorothy Patterson. Jim Patterson’s great-grandfather was Joseph Medill, who bought the failing Chicago Tribune in 1847 and turned it into a great and powerful newspaper. Medill’s legacy, as expressed by his heirs, has always been about innovation, from developing the modern comics section to extending journalism into emerging media platforms – radio, television, the Internet.

Now, innovation is taking many forms and is being pushed from a variety of directions – by existing news organizations trying to preserve their relevance in a digital age; by grassroots groups motivated by deep interest in communities, whether geographic or virtual; by entrepreneurs seeking both new paths for journalism and new business models; by interest groups seeking coverage and dialogue about topics they are committed to, philosophically, financially or both.

We want to be part of that movement, so we’re exploring ways The Patterson Foundation can help connect innovators. Innovation is moving at warp speed, and that means the environment for journalism is more than a little chaotic right now. We want to help find ways to pull some order from the chaos, to build momentum around ideas that are working so that we can move journalism toward its future, faster.

In this blog, I’ll be sharing what we’re learning, what questions we’re pondering and asking for your help in refining our ideas. I’ll also continue to share our thoughts and seek your ideas through our social media channels, at our Facebook page and through our Twitter feed.

The needs are urgent. We don’t have a moment – or an idea – to waste. I’m looking forward to thinking out loud with you.

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.