While musing about Facebook’s recent changes to “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people” over content from media and brands, Jeff Jarvis coins a new definition of journalism:
“…convening communities into civil, informed, and productive conversation, reducing polarization and building trust through helping citizens find common ground in facts and understanding.” —Jeff Jarvis, Facebook’s changes
That sounds a lot like the mission of the participant-driven and participation-rich events I’ve been championing for so long. Journalism can’t provide the connective power of face-to-face meetings. But its potential for helping individuals and communities build trust and find common ground is worthy and welcome.
There are fascinating parallels in the ways that journalism and events are evolving. Listen to the first minute of this interview of journalism maverick Jeff Jarvis by David Weinberger.
Here’s the relevant quote:
“What the internet changes is our relationship with the public we serve…What is the proper relationship for journalists to the public? We tend to think it’s manufacturing a product called content you should honor and buy…That’s a legacy of mass media; treating everybody the same because we had to…So we now see the opportunity to serve people’s individual needs. So that’s what made me think that journalism, properly conceived is a service.”
In parallel fashion, events are moving away from broadcast formats that treat everybody the same and evolving towards designs that allow individual participants to learn what they individually want and need to learn, as well as connecting with peers and peer communities that have real value for them.
Seeing your conference as a service that can provide what people want—rather than what you’ve decided they want, like the journalists of old—is key to keeping your events relevant, competitive, and successful.