I anticipated that maybe a couple of dozen people might show up. So I was a bit nonplussed when I came on stage — really an altar — and saw at least 200 people seated in the church’s pews to hear our panel.
My message was that if the public doesn’t step up and start to support journalism, it was going to disappear and our democracy was in trouble. I repeated a line I have given before: If you the public don’t find enough value in what we do, then why should we do it?
I pay for my haircut and every other service, so why not pay for journalism? The days of advertisers paying for your journalism is waning, if not over.
So who in the audience, I asked, will step forward and help save journalism? The answer was the 25 citizens who filled out forms saying they were ready to help. We at the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University will meet with these 25 citizens and anyone else interested in advancing the cause of sound journalism. Maybe this is the beginning of a national citizens’ movement to advance high quality, ethically sound journalism. We will see.
I must tell you, I have seen indications of this coming. In casual conversations I have had with people, a fair number of them realize that journalism is in deep trouble and they are afraid, as am I, of a world without journalism.
Remember the proverb: Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. If you want to be part of our pioneering effort, get in touch. Be part of our charter meeting which I will be calling in early October.
By the way, I shared the panel with Leon Levitt, Vice President of Digital Media at Cox Newspapers, which owns the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Hank Klibanoff, coauthor of The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle and the Awakening of a Nation, who until recently was the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s managing editor.