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 www.jtmpnw.org)
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 - www.jtmpnw.org
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.