Promoting civic engagement and effective local governance for over 100 yearsView Past Issues
In a new collection of essays published by the Kettering Foundation, journalists reflect openly and honestly on their attempts to do their work in new and better ways. Their reflections offer insights into how journalism might help in repairing our civic fabric and strengthening American democracy.
The following four essays were originally published in a Kettering Foundation book, Re-Inventing Journalism to Strengthen Democracy: Insights from Innovators.
Who and what we see when we talk about democracy and what types of civic information are produced in that democracy are collective issues that journalists can’t solve on our own. The best response to the current crisis in journalism is to get more people involved at a level on which everyone can participate as more than mere consumers of local information.
Building and keeping public trust takes a dedicated team that is willing to do the work to drive the momentum forward, manage crises effectively, and keep the focus on our public service mission. The question, “Why should I trust you?” should be top of mind daily to journalists, who must be responsive in order to be successful in their work.
To better inform people doing the work of supporting democracy, journalists must start seeing themselves as part of a larger, decentralized network of the civic body rather than as part of a siloed industry. The information they provide is just one stream in the larger flow of information that supports collective sense-making.
If people don’t trust the news media and civil dialogue is contracting, how can journalists adapt their practices to better serve their highest calling, supporting our democracy? Spaceship Media’s Dialogue Journalism is one effort to adapt to the reality of today’s civic information landscape.
Because the arts have the capacity to affirm and advance democracy, the Kettering Foundation has decided to integrate the unique power of the arts into its work locally, nationally, and internationally. The Democracy and the Arts program will focus on deepening our engagement with core democratic values.
A celebrated artist and educator, Willis Davis has been creating art that mirrors the complexities and sometimes the shortcomings of American democracy his entire life. Davis and Kettering Foundation President Sharon L. Davies explored his work in the first of a planned series of conversations with democracy innovators.
National Civic Review (Print ISSN 0027-9013, Online ISSN1542-7811) is published quarterly by the National Civic League, Copyright © 2023 National Civic League.