Stearns: Journalism needs more foresight than hindsight

Free Press' Josh Stearns worries about "hindsight journalism" and proposes instead:

"We need a journalism of exploration and investigation, a journalism not afraid to wander or to fail. For in those forays into the wild, the complex, the unknown, we may find something that we need to know now, not after the fact."

Stearns distinguishes this backward-looking journalism from the problem-solving journalism described this way by Jonathan Stray:

"The solution journalist ought to be well informed, certainly, and perhaps they ought to report and write on possible solutions to social problems, but I don't think that’s their primary responsibility. Rather, I see the solution journalist as responsible for the process of public discussion by which problems are defined and turned into plans for the future.

"This is the moderator’s role. There is wide scope here, beyond the daily nuts and bolts of moderating a networked discussion (for which there are already a great variety of models.) It would be very valuable if the journalist continually curated links that describe both potential issues and potential solutions within the community. It would be crucial to include a variety of voices in this discussion, or the conclusions may not be representative; I like John Dewey’s definition of a public as a group of people affected by some issue. And the journalist could step in at key moments to clarify basic points of fact, either by citing authoritative references or by doing some reporting."


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