Reinvent The Media!

A Brief Guide for the Citizen

DRAFT: Please don't cite or distribute without permission

Doug Schuler
Seattle Community Network Association

Everybody talks about the media, to paraphrase Mark Twain, but nobody ever does anything about it. Like the weather, the average person thinks that the media is something out there, something that people enjoy or suffer through, but don't influence. While the attendees at the recent "Quality Journalism in the 21st Century" conference at the University of Washington did do their share of talking about the media, the ultimate aim was to identify what could actually be done about it. Many of us in the "Citizen's Voices" session had serious doubts about the ability -- or the desire -- of the media to assist citizens in dealing with the problems that we will be facing in the 21st century. While the journalists at the conference were confident that their craft would persist no matter which directions new technologies and new economic circumstances might take them, our group worried that those forces might easily propel the media even further into the depths of sleazy infotainment.

Since one of the strongest themes to emerge from our discussion was the importance of citizen leadership and engagement with the media I developed a list of suggestions for promoting more responsive and useful media.

What can citizens and activists do?

Educators have important roles as well --

The government also has important -- though often neglected -- responsibilities --

For journalists in the field --

The new media world opened up by the Internet and the World Wide Web offers new opportunities as well as new threats. Therefore citizens must --

And, finally, some advice for all of us --

We all live in a complex "ecosystem" of communication flows. If citizens aren't active in this ecosystem the media may continue its free-fall into the dark hole of the lowest common denominator. Don't ignore the media. Reinvent the media.