Will this Tweak to Journalism Create the World We Want to Live In?

Axiom News CEO and founder Peter Pula and Journalism That Matters co-founder Peggy Holman in one of multiple conversations last week with Seattle’s media community about new approaches to journalism. Photo Credit: Lisa Skube

Will this Tweak to Journalism Create the World We Want to Live In?

'Cultural narrative a life-and-death issue'

Peggy Holman had an “a-ha” moment in Seattle last week that has her rooting through different thinking about how journalism might help create the world we want to live in.

Co-founder of a national coalition, Journalism That Matters, Peggy has long been exploring different approaches to journalism, always with an eye towards preparing the next generation of journalists for co-creation with emerging citizen journalists.

She and former Seattle Times editor Mike Fancher invited Axiom News founder and CEO Peter Pula to Seattle for three days of meetings with pockets of the city’s media community, which Peggy and others describe as uniquely collaborative and open to new ideas. Most of these conversations delved into the generative journalism Peter has developed, both its implications and a related business model.

One of a number of the “a-ha” moments Peggy experienced during the many conversations was this: that a story around creation rather than conflict may be more likely to evoke constructive action.

The generative journalism approach can shape stories to include struggle or conflict, but the centre of gravity is an aspiration to draw people in and increase the likelihood that they’ll act.

“It’s really about the belief that stories told through a creative lens, through a generative lens, will be most effective to mobilize people,” Peggy says.

Could this reframing help journalism fulfill a role in shaping a world we want to live in?

Social scientist Fred Polak, who studied the rise and fall of cultures in the mid 1900s, found he could predict within a generation the demise of a culture — it was when it ceased to have a positive image of its own future.

“When you put that in the context of journalists in their role as our cultural storytellers, that actually says that our cultural narrative is a life and death issue,” Peggy says.

“That raises the bar on the importance of journalists and the frames they use for telling their stories.”

The U.S. is on “a pretty scary track from a cultural narrative point of view,” Peggy adds.

The next level of thinking in journalism to be done is how stories can be shaped to call something new into being; how they might generate something new and through that inspire people to get involved, Peggy says.

More to Come

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Crafting New Possibilities for Journalism in an Interactive World

Inquiring a New Kind of Question for Journalism

You can comment on this story below, or e-mail michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.


Very good article, although I tripped on this: "a pretty scary track from a cultural narrative point of view".Although I think I agree with what Peggy seems to mean, I also do think we be very attentive not to fall prey to the same feeling and, should we sense the beginning of it, strive hard to find counter-balancing proofs of the opposite.Concretely, I would like to express my personal view on this by proposing a new sentence:The U.S. is on a pretty scary track from a cultural narrative point of view on mainstream communications/journalism.Let's find out the positive narratives existing that's not yet visible, and shed light onto them!

Thanks Nicolas. Very good point. We definitely are seeking to shine a light on the other possibilities that do exist in the news and information realm, as we know Peggy is as well.

Thanks, Nicolas, for your reframe of the scary track of the U.S. cultural narrative to a search for what's working.  To your point, Journalism That Matters, a nonproift that I helped to found, just started something we've called the Illuminations Project -- http://www.journalismthatmatters.net/what_s_working.  The purpose is to shine a light on what's working in the emerging news and information ecosystem. Our goal is to spark further innovation by offering up examples as inspiration. 

Writer Bio

Michelle Strutzenberger's picture
Michelle Strutzenberger

Michelle Strutzenberger aims to lift up the gifts and possibilities of community through her work as a Generative Journalist, connector and curator with Axiom News. She is also dedicated to finding ways to illuminate what the Axiom News team has learned, gathered and accomplished over the years. Michelle has more than 15 years of experience with Axiom News. She's  most grateful for the incredible people she's had the privilege of encountering through this work.

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