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3 Questions with We Make The Media’s founder

11/19/2009

This Saturday, a couple hundred journalists will gather in Portland to talk about a much-ballyhooed topic: nonprofit news organizations. The event is called We Make The Media. It’s an idea conference, a chance to explore what it would take to create a new community-driven news project here in Portland.

Full disclosure: I’m one of the people helping to organize We Make The Media. Over the last few months, I’ve watched a core group of passionate journalists — lead by Willamette Week co-founder Ron Buel — turn their desire for quality news into an event that they hope will inspire the rest of us to take action. I asked Buel via email a few questions about his vision.

What kind of journalist will get the most out of this conference?

Journalists who will benefit most are not wedded to newspapers, and are able to see a future in news and investigative reporting on the Internet. Journalists who want to work in multiple modes – text, video and audio. Journalists who see the larger role that journalism plays in our democracy, holding our corporations and institutions and elected officials accountable. Journalists who understand that journalism is the community writing about the community, not an ivory tower for the journalist to do his/her business in completely detached fashion.

Is this new journalism enterprise intended to take the place of existing media outlets?

This new enterprise is aimed at the current condition in the Portland Metro area – significantly fewer paid journalism resources doing investigative and enterprise reporting. It does not assume that newspapers are going out of business, or that TV News won’t someday reform itself, or that radio will move from more talk to more news someday. It assumes that there are gaps which a new enterprise can fill today in the public interest.

What will happen after the conference? Who will be charged with moving the project forward?

The participants in this conference will be charged with moving the plans forward. They undoubtedly will bring in outside resources to help, but there is no “control group” who will carry this forward. Future action will only be taken by conference participants who are committed to act, to carry out the plans made at the conference and approved by the entire group.

Have you signed up yet? You only have one more day…

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