Participatory journalism pioneer Dan Gillmor (previously) has just launched Co/Lab, a new project at Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism for "creating, testing, and promoting innovations that will help make the news ecosystem more robust and valuable for all participants."
Gillmor's taking aim at the "split-second posting/sharing culture" that has "given malicious actors their most powerful platform in history," that exploits longstanding flaws in journalism to allow "ambitious and powerful people to…poison the public…against the whole idea of truth."
In that context last March, Facebook and Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication convened a "News Literacy Working Group." Over a long weekend, we gathered an amazing group from around the world — experts in news/media literacy, journalists, technologists, researchers, funders, and more. My challenge to them was to think of ways we could make news literacy scale, and I suggested that we needed, in particular, a commitment to do this from educators, journalists, and technology platforms. One participant, my friend Jeff Jarvis from City University of New York, thought we should frame the issue in a much wider way than viewing it through the lens of that subset of media literacy we call news literacy. Others had their own ideas on a) what was wrong; and b) how we might address it. We thrashed through some of the issues and came up with a long list of ideas. It was an amazing three days.
Since then, the emergency hasn't abated. On some levels, it's vastly worse. But a lot is happening in the media world to at least begin to understand what's happening, what's at stake, and how we can collectively work to counteract the worst effects of the misinformation poison.
We've been doing what we can at ASU, with courses, training, and more. With News Co/Lab (we're pronouncing it "collab"), we hope to go much deeper, but in targeted ways. I'll be shifting my time to focus on the lab as its founding director. Facebook is our initial sponsor; more on that below.
We'll be working mostly in and around the place where supply meets demand. We want to collaborate with anyone — teachers, journalists, librarians, technologists, civic leaders, among others — who shares our goals and wants to work on this. We have no intention of duplicating what others are already doing well. We want to help them do more of it.
A new chapter: News Co/Lab