Three colleagues and I conceived and produced a board game as a vehicle meant to introduce our professional instincts and wildest thoughts while stimulating discussion.
Seminar leader Paul Pohlman asked if he could retain copies of our presentation and rights to the board game, which contained speculative references to instantaneous data delivery, reporters interchangeable within print and broadcast newsrooms, a condensed print product and delivery schedule, with specialized content aimed at subgroups within communities (sports fans, science and car enthusiasts) who just might be willing to augment additional coverage of their interests.
Sound familiar? Troubling?
Like Monopoly (TM), our board game also was loaded with landmines that included losing turns or making payments to other players based on skyrocketing newsprint prices, union walkouts, expanding corporate ownership at the expense of local ownership, and the proliferation of networked mainframes given to crashes or inaccessibility.
While some snickered, Mr. Pohlman complimented our vision and lauded our efforts, calling both “quite remarkable.” He said our presentation was so special that he would like to utilize it within Poynter’s ongoing curriculum. Today, Mr. Pohlman is adviser to the president and senior faculty member at the journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla. I recently asked for his recollections:
Discussions that Mr. Pohlman said will begin anew on June 1 surely will impact journalists, students, educators — and what some would have us believe is the wobbly foundation of The Fourth Estate — throughout the next 20 years.
So, what are my designs on the future this time around?
I know today’s college students (my own son is a sophomore at Florida State University) are looking for much more than a degree. Countless students with whom I have spoken as a recruiter on campuses throughout this nation have told me they are bound by personal guiding principles. Among them are a sense of purpose, a strong sense of urgency, unparalleled drive and intense personal and community expressions that will result in self fulfillment as they define it. They seek the extraordinary — challenges and successes they envision can only exist beyond the realm of existing possibilities. Above all else, they are looking for honestly, lasting emotional connections to role models and accountability. Still, their professional dreams really are not drastically different than those you or I once harbored.
Journalism traditionalists had better get used to hearing from and learning from the likes of social media and tech evangelists Steve Buttry, Jeff Jarvis, Mandy Jenkins and Mark Glaser. They already stand at today’s intersection of print, digital and socio-behavioral journalism. But none have abandoned our profession’s inherent and beloved core values — integrity, accuracy, fairness, independence, transparency and community obligations.
I believe journalism will be filled with non-traditional funding, strange bedfellows, quicksand brand loyalties, nuanced advertising and revolving doors that will equally welcome and boot leaders primed for one mission but unable to adjust to others. The resulting public infrastructure will have seamless connections between people with common interests and uncommon stories.
News and information will continue to be our primary commodity; it will be augmented more freely — but at a cost — with ideas, possibilities, virtual and real associations, spontaneous hopes, truths, entertainment and enlightenment that begin in nearby geographic boundaries and reach instantaneously into our collective global consciousness.
I suppose I can live with that — especially if along with it comes a mindset that consumers deserve products far superior to those backed by the "good enough" mantra all too prevalent today.