With the school year getting started, the Nieman Journalism Lab is inviting a cross-section of journalism folks to offer ideas that might improve the effectiveness of journalism schools. Earlier this week, Geneva Overholser, director of the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California, recapped the four principles she had in mind when she took the job, then added a fifth: "Never forget that journalism is all about the public."
Overholser goes on to say:
"We can easily focus on the new technologies, the new social media tools, and the new possibilities for financial support. Yet the far more interesting and promising change is the new way of working with the public to make journalism better than it has ever been — more inclusive, more democratic, and more focused on fostering civic engagement. We may have come to understand that journalism is a civic good, but if that notion is to take hold broadly, journalism must do a better job of showing that it’s true."
I think this is an important idea, one that focuses on the news consumer, not the news producer. It's not a business model, and it presumes that value provided will be rewarded with financial support. I don't know that people will pay for good journalism, but they may well pay for its byproducts.