A Systems Approach to Remaking Journalism

What if we asked not what new business model journalism needs to survive, but instead what kinds of journalism our communities need to thrive? A similar question starts Jonathan Stray’s recent blog post “Journalism for Makers”:

“I find myself wondering what it would take to fix the global financial system, but most financial journalism doesn’t help me to answer this question. Something seems wrong here. The modern world is built on a series of vast systems, intricate combinations of people and machines, but our journalism isn’t really built to help us understand them. It’s not a journalism for the people who will put together the next generation of civic institutions.”

For Stray, too much contemporary journalism is either “in service to the status quo” or represented by a “zealous suspicion of power.” Neither of these frameworks for journalism encourage deep engagement with systems, Stray argues. He proposes a different framework, drawing on the participatory values of “maker culture” (see for example Make magazine): “Geeks who like to understand very complex systems, and tinker with them.” Journalism today lacks that drive to tinker, to fix, to make better, which is rooted in the complex intersection of a desire to know (expertise) and a desire to change. “Where is the journalism for the idealist doer with a burning curiosity?” he asks. Continue reading