Journalism That Matters Pacific Northwest Collaboratory

Journalism That Matters Pacific Northwest Collaboratory

United States
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The JTMPNW Collaboratory is a catalyzing hub for a loose-knit network of people who are furthering innovation in journalism and civic engagement in the Northwest.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Journalism as we know it is failing - both financially and in providing the news and information we need to be free and self-governing. In the Pacific Northwest, we have seen a major newspaper collapse and another struggling to survive. How do we continue to get the news and information we need to make wise collective decisions? More, how do we change a complex social system like journalism?

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The JTMPWN Collaboratory uses leading edge conversational practices to bring together the whole system of people who care about the role of journalism in civil society. We are particularly unique in attracting people from a wide variety of sectors - mainstream, independent, and ethnic journalists, community and media activists, students, researchers, technologists, business people, and others are part of the collaborative's constituency. We are growing a variety of means to support the people involved: face-to-face engagement, microfinance, stewarding ten initiatives that grew out of a Journalism That Matters conference held in January 2010 to name a few.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

How do you put value on mechanisms that cultivate community? JTM supports people to 1) clarify and strengthen their individual work; 2) connect with partners; 3) undertake innovative and ambitious projects; 4) grow a spirit of community; and 5) re-envision and create journalism that serves civil society. JTM has sparked a variety of innovative projects, including, which provides the means for crowd-funding investigative journalism and the Common Language Project, which puts a human face on stories from the developing world for a US audience. The Common Language Project recently launched a media literacy effort in partnership with the University of Washington as a result of connections made through Journalism That Matters Pacific Northwest. JTM influenced the creation of entrepreneurial curriculum for journalists at the Poynter Institute. Josh Wilson of the award winning Newsdesk describes the impact of JTM, characteristic of what many have told us: "JTM recognized that new social mechanisms were required to connect practitioners, advocates, academics and the newly engaged citizenry -- and then provided that space. I got to test my ideas, meet peers, recruit advisers (notably Tom Stites), encounter funders; it's impossible to overstate the value of this...JTM was a place where I could talk about big ideas, such as peer-to-peer networks, and shucking the ad model, and building infrastructure for democracy. It was vital. We wouldn't be here without it."
About You
Journalism That Matters
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About You
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Journalism That Matters


, WA, King County

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Journalism That Matters

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, WA, King County

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, WA, King County

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JTM is a 9-year experiment in convening the people of the system to re-envision and create journalism that matters. JTM PNW is an experiment rooted in place to support the people who are shaping the emerging news and information ecosystem. It brings together a diverse group of stewards to

1) support ten initiatives identified at a conference in January 2010 (see

2) continue to convene the people involved in journalism and civic engagement in the Northwest

3) support experiments, such as microfinancing journalism initiatives

4) create the means to share stories of what is working and what we are learning.


In January, 250+ people from the Northwest and beyond re-envisioned our news and information ecosystem -
Ten initiatives emerged:
1. Sustaining JTMPNW: a collaboratory to keep the work going
2. Exploring a Civic Communications Commons: a civic space from existing resources in neighborhoods, communities, the non-profit sector, government and business
3. Creating Abundant Journalism: an information clearinghouse
4. Building On Transparency: Heightening collaboration between community and public bodies
5. Mapping the News and Information Ecosystem: Creating a dynamic sense of the public's needs and how to meet them
6. Creating the "TAO of Journalism Seal": Transparent, Accountable and Open journalism
7. Growing a Media/digital/news literacy project in Seattle: Helping students and citizens access and create information
8. Exploring a global health journalism collaboratory: Seattle is a hub for global heath collaboration, a journalistic opportunity
9. Creating a Seattle Happiness Index: Formulating measures of community well being
10. Forming a technology group for ongoing communication

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

The JTMPNW Collaboratory sees its role as supporting the pioneers who are shaping the emerging news and information ecosystem. To be successful, it will take sufficient funding to grow a minimal infrastructure to support a self-sustaining membership and sponsorship network. In keeping with the JTM’s commitment to innovation, we expect that infrastructure to be non-traditional in form. It will stay small, nimble, and like its constituency, network-based.

Year 1. Focus on infrastructure. Define the core functions to support the ongoing needs of the community. We are already working on a decent website that supports community interaction. We are scheduling monthly face-to-face meetings to keep people informed and engaged, reach new people, and spark new ideas. We are learning what support the ten initiatives want from the Collaboratory. Additionally, we are keeping an ear open for emerging initiatives, such as the micro-financing effort that recently surfaced. This work is currently being done through a part-time outreach coordinator/editor, a web team, and group of volunteer stewards.

Year 2. Growing the network. What does it take to support a network? We know that involves cultivating a sense of community so that people can sharpen their own ideas, share ideas with others, and meet potential partners. We are looking at how we can support such efforts with financing options, mentors, shared information, and other simple, distributed infrastructure.

Year 3. Broadening and deepening the network. The work in the northwest is a model that has national and even international implications. As we grow, we expect to reach a broader network of news and information pioneers. We also expect to continue to evolve the functions of the Collaboratory as the needs of an emerging constituency evolve.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

Money. We have a group of committed volunteers. We need sufficient funding to support 2-3 core staff. They are the hub of a network, the glue to attract volunteers, link with the stewards, who are engaged advisors, and connect with the initiatives.

Organizational form. Many traditional systems, such as journalism, are failing. We need to learn new ways of organizing ourselves to get important work done. The Collaboratory is an experiment in supporting an emerging network by being a network-based organization. As with any experiment, it has risks.

Yet, the Collaboratory is ideally positioned for this experiment. It already has momentum, with people acting as core staff, stewards, an interested community, and identified initiatives. These ingredients provide an excellent model for understanding how to influence a complex social system. As we move forward, we expect to contribute to the health of the Northwest by providing an incubator for discovering what it takes to affect a regional news and information ecosystem. We expect to influence journalism and media, citizen participation, democracy, transparency, and public policy. For example, the Building on Transparency project will lead to greater openness in government and greater citizen access to government data. The Digital Literacy initiative will result in new programs in public schools that prepare young people to be more informed in their interactions with media. The CCC initiative will result in new forms of citizens and community engagement with government and journalism. The mapping initiative will provide insights about information needs that could prompt changes in public policy. Together, these initiatives positively influence almost every area identified in the recent Knight Commission’s report on the information needs of communities. In short, the Collaboratory, the community it cultivates, and the initiatives it incubates provide the means to shape a complex social system.

How many people will your project serve annually?

More than 10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Please select

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?


What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.

Journalism That Matters

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have a non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have a non-monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have a non-monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

Because JTMPNW is all about bringing different aspects of the system of news and information together, partnerships provide access to constituency. And through our influence, they, too benefit from innovative ideas. In other words, it is a mutually reinforcing virtuous cycle.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

1. Get the web site up and running so that information exchange is more effective
2. Fund an editor/curator to make the stories of what is already happening visible
3. Continue to meet periodically face to face so that the energy and ideas keep flowing.

The Story
What was the defining moment that you led to this innovation?

It was a shooting at a Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles in 1999. I thought, the stories that we tell ourselves shape the way we see the world. That shapes our behavior. And journalists are our cultural story tellers. I wondered if the work I did with whole systems - groups of people dealing with complex, important issues - could make a dent in how journalism worked. A mutual friend connected me with a journalist colleague and Journalism That Matters was born.

Taking it local -- growing a model in a geography is the experiment of JTM Pacific Northwest.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Peggy Holman,, supports organizations and communities to uncover creative responses to complex challenges using innovative engagement processes. The Change Handbook, co-authored with Tom Devane and Steven Cady, documents many such processes. The book is the considered the definitive resource for leaders and consultants working to increase resilience, agility, and collaboration in social systems. Peggy co-founded Journalism that Matters in 2001 with three journalists to support the pioneers who are shaping the emerging news and information ecology. Peggy’s latest book, Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity, supports people facing disruptions to invite others to join them in realizing new possibilities.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Personal contact at Changemakers

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

Jim McGinley