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GoodWork in Journalism

The GoodWork Project in Journalism began with semi-structured in-depth interviews with leading practitioners in several areas of specialization within the field. The original sample consisted of 60 journalists, but in subsequent years the research team has spoken with hundreds more. Most members of the initial group were well-known figures who had been nominated by experts in the domain. Interviews lasted about two hours; they covered a wide range of themes, from backgrounds of the practitioners to their current aspirations and concerns. Findings from this research effort, and a similar effort in the genetics domain, were published in a book entitled, Good Work: When excellence and ethics meet.

Once this research effort was underway, we were fortunate to team-up with a like-minded non-profit organization called the Committee of Concerned Journalists (CCJ). The CCJ is a consortium of reporters, editors, producers, publishers, owners and academics worried about the future of journalism. Along with the CCJ, we held 21 forums across the country where we engaged journalists in a conversation about the standards in their domain. We learned what GoodWork in journalism looks like and how it can be accomplished in the face of obstacles and challenges.

Drawing on strategies of GoodWork culled from both of these extensive research efforts, we created a journalism curriculum. With the CCJ we have traveled the country visiting print, broadcast, and Internet newsrooms to share lessons about GoodWork in journalism. The curriculum consists of 11 half-day modules designed to help journalists think through critical decision-making issues about news- from questions of verification, to making news more engaging, to how to identify bias. To date the curriculum has been presented to 120 print, broadcast, and Internet newsrooms, and reached over 3,000 journalists. We are currently conducting a formal full-scale assessment of the workshop impact, but early feedback suggests the workshops are well received and useful to practitioners.