Ahead of today's GEN News World Summit (which admirably listened to its public this morning and shortened its hashtag from #hackthenewsroom to #gen2012), we met last night in Paris with some sponsored editors who are here to build a coalition for ethical journalism.
As ever, data journalism was high on the agenda of dinner topics. The use of visualisation as both a mode of investigation and communication leaves plenty of space in the newsroom for developers and designers. More journalists are data-literate than people often give the profession credit for and it strikes me that far from being the latest journalism 2.0 fad (a fad that goes on for decades?) it has been integral to reporting for longer than people can remember. In the internet age, it's simply coming into its own.
Business models were also of interest to the table. One of the issues with journalism, and its not an issue restricted to developing countries, is that the media profession is too close to politics. How can we speak of journalistic ethics, when the relationship between government and media owners or media regulation is too close? Ethics in journalism requires full scale appraisal of its own structures, from the moneymen to the inksmiths...
Of course here sustainability comes into play. If we charge the next generation of journalists with upholding journalistic standards, they must somehow become removed from institutional structures that do not serve balanced reporting. How can we do that?
One way is to equip them with the tools to begin collectives, to build loose digital reporting networks, to become stakeholders in their own media enterprises, to use all available channels to reach audiences far greater than perhaps print or even radio ever could. And, to earn a living from their work. Every journalist has the power to become a media organisation. The tools are there, the audience is there, the need is there.