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Ten Benchmarks for the Future of Journalism

I have long said that more than the business model of journalism was broken. I believe the craft of journalism is broken, too. It’s all-too-often done on autopilot and overly reliant on some conventions that have turned into bad habits.

Last weekend, J-Lab tested this idea on a group of young journalists who gave up their Saturday to join what turned out to be a robust and animated conversation about “Re-Imagining Journalism.”

“Stimulating,” “ground-moving” and “galvanizing” marked some of the feedback. Turns out that while the industry is obsessed with technology, many journalists are quite passionate about their craft and are really worried about how it is being practiced.

We’ll come out with a report soon on our early conversation, supported by both the Knight and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundations. For now, here is one of my takeaways.

We asked the participants to send us examples of stories that either inspired or angered them. A few picked the same stories. Studying these examples gave rise to this list of 10 benchmarks. We can produce good journalism if we:

1) Challenge knee-jerk master narratives

2) Reach for new kinds of accountability

3) Add historical context

4) Impart a sense of community, sense of place

5) Seek authenticity

6) Have impact

7) Make the invisible visible

8) Strive for attachment vs. detachment

9) Do less harm

10) Anticipate the future

This list will be refined as we engage more. Stay tuned.

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