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Tom Atlee on the rebirth of a p2p-based democratic journalism

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
12th March 2013


Republished from Tom Atlee:

“Below are two mind-bending stories about journalism, with profound implications for the functioning of democracy – including its death and potential rebirth.

* 1: Mainstream Media Meltdown! ROBERT W. MCCHESNEY – Salon: This report is excerpted from ‘Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy” –

* 2. Bob Woodward and the Rules of Washington Morality. MICHAEL TOMASKY – The Daily Beast.

The first story talks about the inability of journalism to fund itself, that its internet-based business plans are failing as fast as its print business strategies. With one exception: Those innovative outlets that wildly reduce quality for cheap quantity that is created to serve advertisers – in other words, faux journalism.

The second story talks about the dynamics within Washington, DC, that bend journalism towards elite-distorted messages and soap opera narratives over substance. In other words, faux journalism.

As I read the first, I couldn’t help but think of Michel Bauwens’ vision of a new business model involving peer-to-peer dynamics generating value into a commons which is then profitably tapped by entrepreneurs who support the creation, maintenance and productivity of that commons (as IBM and several other large companies are doing with the Linux commons).* Bauwens’ model provides a different structure within which journalistic innovations might flourish. I also couldn’t help thinking of Jim Rough’s Dynamic Facilitation, whose themes of “turning intractable conflicts into breakthroughs” and “DF is for impossible people and impossible problems” fit this dilemma to a “t”. What would a DF’d session of frustrated journalists (and selected other stakeholders) do with the problem described in the first article?

The second article made it even more crystal clear to me the need for a demonstrably legitimate, coherent and wise “people’s voice” to compete with the insanity of Washington. It raised for me the possibility that citizen deliberative councils (a category within which I put Jim Rough’s Wisdom Councils and Creative Insight Councils AND Ned Crosby’s Citizens Juries) generating public wisdom on public issues could be integrated with the kind of principled coalition between grassroots and pro journalists that Bauwens’ vision makes possible – a coalition capable of spreading that wisdom to the masses in ways that could overwhelm the Washington elites. Such a radical reconfiguration of the democracy landscape is, of course, only one possible outcome of the rising disturbance and collective stupidity we find ourselves in.

Such possibilities cry out for collaboration with Peggy Holman’s Journalism that Matters project, which has facilitated principled journalists seeking transformational breakthroughs in their profession and its business models for over a decade.”

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