Eight (or Nine) Values for the Future of News

I just returned from the Future of News conference in St. Paul, Minn. Although the conference inspired Richard Gingras to cheekily tweet, “The future of news is a future of conferences about the future of news,” there were some interesting threads worth noting.

One presenter who stood out to me was Tom Rosenstiel, from the Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism, who proposed eight values he believed were core to the future of news. Some, he noted, were long-held values of legacy media organizations that we should carry over to new models. Others were values rooted in the changing media system and people’s responses to it.

Rosenstiel said we need the press to:

  1. authenticate the news
  2. be a sense-maker
  3. be a watchdog
  4. bear witness
  5. be a forum
  6. be a smart aggregator
  7. empower the audience
  8. be a role model

A few things struck me about this list. The first was Rosenstiel’s choice to frame it in terms of what we need from the press. Often at conferences like this, people lament that we don’t hear enough from citizens and consumers (which is exactly why we held our Denver event with 200 local citizens and journalists). While Rosenstiel is no average Joe, it was refreshing to see how he based this list on a community-oriented approach, rooted, no doubt, in the public surveys conducted by the Pew Center.

As I have written before, it is vital that we begin to shift our focus in these debates away from the cost of journalism and toward a fuller consideration of the value of journalism. In this way, Rosenstiel’s list helps us focus not on what it’ll take to save the news, but rather on just what kind of news we should be saving — or creating, as the case may be.

The list is also important for its potential use as a tool for measuring the quality of news in a community, as an assessment of a particular news organization, and as a guide for developing new models. There are no doubt any number of sub-lists under each of these enumerated values, and a number of ways to achieve them, but this is a good first step.

If there’s one value missing from Rosenstiel’s list, I’ll add this: We need the press to reflect the diversity of our nation. What would you add to the list?

(Originally posted at http://www.SaveTheNews.org/blog)

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