Institutions or Infrastructure? The Real Opportunity for Online Journalism and Democracy

  • People: Institutions are often exclusive/meritocratic agencies rather than inclusive/democratic systems. Whether it’s hiring practices, financial disbursements, intern placements, or simply deciding who gets to write the front-page stories, institutions use self-reinforcing systems of referral and affirmation to maintain their position, and support the people and practices they know. This results in risk aversion, hierarchies, groupthink, “old boy networks,” and a revolving door between commercial entities and civic agencies that stifles diversity, vision and innovation.
  • Money: Institutions have overriding budgetary issues and needs — usually in the form of expensive facilities, top-heavy executive salaries and sprawling administrative support systems, not to mention, in the commercial sector, shareholder demands for profitability — that trump the needs of the newsroom and the journalism practitioners. The hollowed-out newsrooms of American newspapers offer increasingly mute testimony to this profound institutional failure.
  • Standards of practice (best practices/quality control)
  • Access to resources enabling practice (material, financial and informational)
  • Access to networks (to disseminate coverage and related content)

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Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson

Writer newsie social entrepreneur DIY banjo comics sci-fi thing.

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