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Breakthrough in a Generative Newsroom

The Axiom News newsroom is celebrating with team member Lisa Bailey whose most recent stories represent a breakthrough in her approach to her work — and raise the bar for all of us.
“It is a huge gift to make the choice to listen for the alternative stories that celebrate not just our present realities but also our capacity and that even speak of the future as though it were already true,” Thomas Brackett says. An Episcopal minister, he’s speaking in the context of a faith community finding its truth in its stories.

  Lisa Bailey

But in many ways his words reflect a long-held core aspiration for the Generative Journalism of Axiom News.

In the face of that aspiration, our team — like many groups of innovators I presume — has had to unshackle ourselves from old patterns, including mainstream journalistic approaches that we’ve all been gripped with, if not as practitioners, than certainly as consumers.
Though we know our work as generative journalists must transcend reporting the facts, many have been the conversations — and much the internal wrestling for some of us — around what the alternative looks like.

If to be generative is to create the conditions for new possibilities to emerge, then the question is how does that change the daily work we do in a practical way — the questions we craft, conversations we hold, content we create and then even how circulation (news networking we’ve long called it) happens.

"Story is central to transformative community — not so much story as a static, finished work, but the very act of drawing story out."
— Thomas Brackett

There’s something nuanced about this work of embracing and manifesting generativity through the tools of journalism. It’s about more than seeing the bright side, offering a solution or even enlarging a media consumer’s capacity for empathy.
A dawning understanding for me has been around the importance of connection in this work — connection with our own true intentions as journalists and also real, generous connection with the people we’ve been given the gift of storying. There’s more to it than that, of course, but to me that’s core.
Following key energy points, intuiting the essence, honing in on possibilities, illuminating gifts and commitments, drawing lines between small stories and a larger context — all of these are also elements of the practice — though not only these.
Even recognizing all of this, though, the experience of seeking to close the gap between a vision/possibility and what’s actually happening can evoke creative tension. We’ve (I’ve) certainly felt that in the newsroom, even as recently as last week and quite strongly.
And then Lisa produces these generative masterpieces — and all I can say is, “There’s hope for all of us.”

Read Lisa's stories at the Peterborough Dialogues news site.

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It stands out as a bright and proud moment. I was a newly minted “professional” mingling with the accomplished-yet-astoundingly-generous front-runners of the Appreciative Inquiry community; David Cooperrider, Ada-Jo Mann, Diana Whitney, Jen Hetzel-Silbert, to name a few. As I offered my business card, I will never forget the brightened eyes and genuine exclamations of delight and curiosity at the sight of my title, “Generative Journalist.”

They are the needed pioneers of our time, those stepping out to hold space for community dialogue that embraces authentic connection, new possibilities and personal efficacy.

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On a foundation of friendship and trust, a small media makers’ circle decided to venture further into experiencing what we’d been flirting with for the past several months — the art and essence of Generative Journalism and the New Narrative Arts.

Listening in on a call last week, I had two of those belly-shiver moments where suddenly the future flashes open and one glimpses what could be. It truly is a flash, a second, maybe two, as if a bare wire zapped some intuition alive. And then things go dark. But the sense of having “seen” a possibility lingers on, like a scent after someone’s left the room.

From getting in state to illuminating new possibilities

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