The public’s declining trust in the news media is a worrying trend. The RSA and the Reuters Institute of Journalism are looking at how we can support the civic function of news. We’re particularly interested in how professional journalists and Fellows relate to the public’s ideas about news and what it is for.
Great topic - and maybe this network could provide an opportunity, among other things, to explore what the BBC plans are in this field. As I quoted in that post, Stephen has said:
The BBC is dropping/has dropped the Action Network. It plans to do a number of other exciting things along these lines in the coming months. The Action network (previously iCan) was always meant to be an experiment. The BBC is right to learn from experiments and change course if that's what seems right.
As well as his position at Leeds University, Stephen is Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute, which maybe explains the connection.
The timing of the project is right, with growing interest in the shifting role of journalists, as citizens produce content for themselves. Charlie Beckett explored that in Networked Journalism: For the people and with the people. More in posts cited below.
I do, however, hope that Stephen makes a commitment to bring the network out from behind the RSA Networks login, as we did with The Membership Project once it had some initial RSA support and interest from Fellows (members). The RSA is running a terrific series of public lectures, free and open to anyone - why not follow the same approach online? I can't see how it is possible to have a useful discussion about media and citizenship in an old-style walled garden. You can link out - but people outside are then forced to come to "your place" to join in. This seems particularly inappropriate on this topic, where issues are so interesting precisely because the Internet has created a public commons.
I've argued the open approach and the case for distributed communities in the RSA, though I can also see the case for private spaces for member-to-member discussions. In this instance I think that Stephen Coleman, the RSA and the Reuters Institute will provide more public benefit by sharing the conversation with everyone. Journalists would agree - wouldn't they?
Previously on Stephen Coleman, the BBC, and open-closed: