|An Innovation Ecosystem for Good Journalism|
Democracy depends on good journalism; but journalism worldwide is in a crisis. What would it take to create a public informing that could empower true democracy and good decisions?
We have drafted a prototype for a radically new approach to public informing:
Motivating observations Good journalism tradition has difficulty surviving financially in competition with an overload of free information, and morally under the pressure of 'special interests' (as recent scandals have made it clear). But we consider this to be a unique opportunity—for a genuine paradigm shift in public informing. There are other reasons why this might be needed:
- The world and its problems have become incomparably more complex and urgent for an unaided journalist to comfortably handle (whistle blowing is not enough, and it may only be a red herring);
- Information technology has enabled completely new ways of co-creating and sharing knowledge (collective intelligence; two-way communication instead of broadcasting...)
- In a number of specialized domains (cognitive and political science, sociology, philosophy...) insights have been reached, which together amount to a completely new way of undedrstanding information: its epistemological underpinnings on the one side, and its relationshiop to power on the other.
- And then consider this most beautiful paradox: Our society has an entire class of publicly sponsored, specially trained people whose task is to think freely and give the society relevant knowledge—namely the academic researchers. It will turn out that what those people know has little or no impact on governance and on public opinion; conversely, public has practically no way to influence what they do, or to ask them questions.
- Public informing is way too important component of our 'systems' (civil society, democracy, culture...) to have its evolution abandoned to commercial and superficial interests.
What we've done in Barcelona
- Public informing has a transdiscipline associated to it, which re-creates it continually. In a transdiscipline members of relevant disciplines, professions and industries join forces with other stakeholders, typically to create something of shared interest. In this way we secure that public informing is evolving as it suits its purpose, by incorporating all available relevant knowledge, and of course technological innovation. And vice versa—this transdiscipline can commission insights and technological solutions from disciplinary and other circles. For details click the GJ Transdiscipline node.
- And then experts are included in the loop one more time and in one more way—in public informing itself. Instead of relying on the journalists to find all solutions, in the drafted public informing prototype the journalists have a role, and so do field experts.
- The public is given a direct voice. For details, click the GJ Prototype node.
- An answer to our key question "In what ways should public informing be different than it is today?" reached in Barcelona was "By providing reliable direction-setting insights." (This is what we have been calling 'knowledge federation' — putting relevant pieces together, and allowing them to converge to a reliable key insight, through a suitably designed socio-technical system.) A nickname for the media channel we have been drafting is "Wikileaks for Insights." This highlights a similarity, and also a difference to Wikileaks: (i) similarity—here too technology is used to overcome power and other barriers and create high-impact public information (ii) difference—instead of only blowing whistles, we are able to point at deeper, systemic causes of problems, where possibilities for true solutions are also found.
A prototype is not complete without being implemented in practice (in which case it would remain something like an experiment that is only described in a paper but not performed).
KFW BCN2011 on the meta-level If you are having a hunch that what we are talking about (what's been created at KFW BCN2011) is also an example of something a lot larger than itself, you are right: It may now turn out that our typical contemporary 'wicked' problems are in essence systemic (result of maladapted dysfunctional social or socio-technical systems); and that the potential benefits of 'systemic innovation' or 'socio-technical system design' cold be larger than any of us is now able to imagine; and that these insights were owned by people and communities already in 1968 .
How can a transdisciplinary community of people come together and re-create a traditional profession? BCN2011 undertakes to provide a prototype answer to this most interesting general question as well.
To begin with, what is needed is a true dialog between two kinds of mentalities or interests or memes: The best of the tradition—combined with all the elements that can transform it in a positive way.
In BCN2011 Paddy Coulter led not only 'the best of the good journalism tradition' forces, but also the workshop itself. By giving him 'the reigns' we undertook to pave the way to re-evolution...
This story continues, and so do its challenges.
KFW BCN2011 on the down-to-earth level
We are currentlydeveloping a real-world prototype of the BCN2011 Innovation Ecosystem for Good Journalism as the ZIG Project, in Zagreb.
The ZIG Project is intended to serve as a seed, which will be spread internationally through the Knowledge Federation Course at the Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik.