The Society of Professional Journalists is America’s oldest and largest journalism organization — which means that, like nearly every other journalism organization these days, its traditional role is under significant pressure to adapt to the new journalism reality. What does it mean to be SPJ when both the “P” and the “J” are being redefined for a digital age?
This summer, SPJ tasked its Digital Media Committee to ask what SPJ should look like in the contemporary context, and the result is this report (PDF), just released today. SPJ asked a number of people for their thoughts on the society’s future — including luminaries like Clay Shirky, Jay Rosen, Howard Owens, Alan Mutter, Rick Edmonds, Ken Doctor, and more. (Also, disclosure: me.) Here are the conclusions they reached, which will be of interest to anyone involved in a journalism institution; the full report’s worth a read.
1. Bridge the divide between new and old media by aggregating and spotlighting high-quality journalism and facilitating communications among online start-ups and legacy media.
2. Create a vibrant network for new media start-ups to share ideas online and in person.
3. Take stands on hot-button digital media issues affecting the future of information sharing. Become an advocate for expanding access to the Internet, news and information.
4. Teach reporters to use powerful emerging technologies, from software to websites and gadgets capable of providing greater depth to stories and increasing public participation.
5. Educate members and citizens in the basics of journalism because proper information-gathering and storytelling techniques are more important than ever in the digital age.
6. Engage journalists and the public in a robust dialogue about the purpose, value and standards of journalism. Build public understanding of and trust in journalism, and educate citizens so they can practice journalism ethically.
7. Train media start-ups in entrepreneurial journalism by hosting seminars, producing regular magazine articles, creating convention programs and providing training opportunities on everything from sales to web development.
8. Teach journalists and their managers the theories behind why they should use new media technologies and examples of best practices, rather than just providing lessons about how to use equipment.
9. Ensure staff and leaders are hyper-literate in digital journalism trends and new media theories so they can anticipate what members will need to know.
10. Poll membership to determine and address journalists’ needs, and track and respond to the journalism industry’s direction.