Detroit Sparks One-Year Effort to Broaden Journalism\'s Reach

Wayne State, MIT, Google among sponsors of \"Create or Die\"

May 7, 2010


DETROIT, Mich. - Key institutions in Detroit, with sponsorship from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, MIT's Center for Future Civic Media and Google Inc., are kicking off a one-year effort to broaden journalism's role in the nation's underserved communities.

As many as 100 journalists, technologists, bloggers, educators, funders and entrepreneurs are expected to participate June 3-6 at co-sponsoring Wayne State University in "Journalism That Matters (JTM): Create or Die - Innovate, Incubate, Initiate." The event is the first of two summits - the second will be a year from now in North Carolina.

"How can we reshape journalism so that it engages and serves all people and communities?" asks Andrew Humphrey, a co-convenor of JTM-Detroit and a meteorologist, reporter and producer at Detroit's WDIV-TV. "JTM-Detroit will foster ideas and seed invention around that question." Humphrey is also founder and co-chair of the National Association of Black Journalist's digital-journalism task force.

"We're seeking participants nationwide to be part of a pitch, plan, design, build collaboration that continues after this first summit," says Michelle Ferrier, an Elon University professor who conceived the year-long effort. "We're making space for participants to bring ideas, knowledge and enthusiasm, a place to find partners and coaches and take their work to the next level."

The focused event will begin with an agenda-setting session, then will focus on identifying entrepreneurial ideas among participants, putting in place advisors, services - and possibly funding - that will allow experiments and testing over the next year. Reports on successes and failures - and fresh ideas - will be the focus of a follow-up JTM event in the summer of 2011 hosted by Elon University in Greesnboro, N.C.

Besides circle-round discussions and focused breakouts - hosted this year by the Institute for Media Diversity at Wayne State -- participants will join partners and collaborators from the Detroit region for a reception on Friday, June 4 at the Museum of Afro American History, the largest such museum in the nation.

Journalism That Matters is a collaborative of journalists, technologists, academic researchers and citizens that has been meeting since 2001 in places like Washington, D.C., Silicon Valley, Seattle, Memphis, Milwaukee, Amherst, Mass., St. Petersburg, Fla., and Kalamazoo, Mich., to help define and chart the new media ecosystem as part of healthier communities. There are more than 1,000 alumni of JTM events worldwide.

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism opened in 2008. Its mission is to bring together citizens and journalists to foster ideas, conduct research and seed experiments that advance the values, principles and purposes of journalism.

"For half a century, the news has been funded by mass-market advertising," says Bill Densmore, a research fellow at the Reynolds Institute and JTM co-organizer. "The Internet and mobile technologies are making it possible to identify and serve large niche audiences. Our task is to figure out how to do so sustainably."

JTM events typically develop new and unexpected cross-sector collaborations, broaden a community of practice among people who care about journalism innovation, learn from stories of successful projects and discover and engage financial/funding sources to seed new projects. The Detroit convening's specific focus is to nurture and develop journalism entrepreneurship especially for underserved communities and people of color.

Besides those listed, other sponsors of JTM-Detroit include the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism and the U.S. Census Bureau. Because of the support of all these groups, JTM is able to provide a limited number of registration stipends. To apply, choose the "request stipend" option when registering at:


For more information, email or call 413-458-8001.

Contact: Peggy Holman
Voice: (425) 746-6274

Contact: Bill Densmore
Voice: (413) 458-8001