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On Behalf of Journalism: A Manifesto for Change

“On Behalf of Journalism,” is a document of hope for a difficult time. To journalism’s many daunting challenges, it offers no easy cure, but a panorama of possibilities.

To embrace opportunity, of course, one must believe in the future and be open to the unknown. These are not common attitudes among journalists today, for all the old familiar reasons – from the falling consumption of traditional media to the building distrust of those who provide it; from the relentless pressure on media companies to produce unusually high profit margins, to the fact, made so dramatically evident in the sale of Knight Ridder, that even aggressive efforts to comply do not ensure survival. No wonder journalists find comfort in the way things were…

This document seeks to bring attention to the bright spots and open prospects on a troubling landscape, to recognize promise where peril is more apparent. Different people will incline toward – and reject – different possibilities. But, taken together, these efforts to distinguish between what must be carried forward and what must be jettisoned, and to embrace new and hopeful steps into the future, can lead to a reinvention of journalism that is richer and better than the old, with its essential values intact.

The story of American journalism is undergoing a dramatic rewrite. The pace of change makes many anxious, and denunciations are lobbed from all sides – and from within. It’s easy to overlook the promise of the many possibilities that lie before us. Our focus here is on those possibilities.

– Geneva Overholser