Keywords: Conversation, Connection, Meaning-making

Many of the metaphors of progressive journalism are also apt metaphors of progressive teaching. One of the buzz phrases being used in the new civic/citizen journalism movement is “journalism as conversation”

Lex Alexander makes the parallels with education explicit:

To use the metaphor most frequently applied, journalism, as traditionally practiced, has been a lecture, almost completely one-way, from journalists to readers. But it’s changing now to a conversation between and among journalists and readers, one that breaks down artificial barriers between us and readers and involves unprecedented levels of transparency in how we do our work. Our online form and content, and our internal culture as a news-gathering and -disseminating operation, must reflect, facilitate, even lead that change.

In seeking to engage in progressive teaching which helps educate progressive journalists it is even more important to foreground these values of conversation, connection and collaborative meaning making.

Media theorist Stuart Hall suggests that both journalists and audiences use broad cultural “maps of meaning” in order to transform a “jumble of random and chaotic events” into news. This is done he suggests through a process of identification and contextualisation in which events are “made to mean” (Hall et al Policing The Crisis 1978:54). Hall’s structuralist analysis reminds us that although meaning making is an inherently collaborative process it is not merely a casual conversation. There are structuring, what he would call ideological, forces which both assist and hinder this conversation.

Both good journalism and good teaching neccessarily work within existing maps of meaning but they also seek to gradually expand horizons through valuing openness and transparency and keeping the conversation active.

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