Wednesday, August 19, 2009

FOCAS '09 - Part I: Trust

(This is the first of a three-part series of FOCAS '09. I am not a journalist, but I do host a music show for a community radio station, WOMR in Provincetown.)

For the last three days I've been watching the webcast of FOCAS '09, the Aspen Institute's Focus on Communications and Society forum, "Of the Press: Models for Preserving American Journalism." (Many thanks to Rachel Sterne from The Ground Report for hosting. Archives are available at

I've also been following the FOCAS09 topic on Twitter, where one of the new objects of my geeky fangirl lust, Craig Newmark of Craig's List participated in a discussion about trust and transparency. Craig has said he will blog about it, which I'll link to here, but he also raised the issue again with the esteemed, invitation-only group toward the end of the session. The challenges around trust, transparency and even audience engagement seemed to take a back seat during the forum, which I find very puzzling.

Trust and transparency critically effect models.They are core factors in how journalism will generate revenue and how it will be funded. They matter more than figuring out a different way to present advertising, especially since we know that online engagement with advertising is minimal at best.

As someone who has worked in music most of my career, I'm struck by the parallels where trust and transparency are concerned. News organizations no longer have the luxury of being "the voice of God," pushing to the people what they want them to know. Like it or not, just like the marketers who have been their compatriots in the one-to-many communication model, they have to get into the conversation-and they have to do it with authenticity to regain and build public trust.

NEXT: Part II: Models

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