During the breakout session “Media for Change,” three journalists introduced their experiences within the media and writing fields and also discussed the future of the industry.

“I think my first identity is a writer,” Marjorie Kelly, the author “Owning Our Future,” said. “What’s the business model, that’s always the question in journalism. The editorial is the easy part. It’s the fun part. When we do what we really love we fill a niche.”

Kelly is also a fellow at Tellus Institute and co-founder of Corporation 20/20, both in Boston, Mass.

Ken Meter, the director of Crossroads Resource Center, based in Minneapolis, Minn., said practical training as a journalist made his work with Crossroads Resource Center easier because of his ability to ask questions of his subjects. He said that learning to do the research, the ability to check information and to double check was also skills he learned as a working journalist.

“As a journalist I asked pesky questions,” Meter said.

Katherine Gustafson, the author of “Change Comes to Dinner,” said the hard part is getting paid for the work. She started as a blogger and struggled with the negativity that dominated that forum. Her long form writing came from an interview series and being connected to the right agent at the right time in her life.

“I feel surprised [to be a journalist] like I’m an interloper even though I’m proud of my product,” Gustafson said. “I’ve never felt the need to be objective. If I wanted to get paid to write I had to put my opinion on it.”

The three agreed that more media outlets had their benefits but also questioned how the financing will work for the writers. They focused on the ways to establish and work for a specialized media source.

“I think there are models that are working,” Kelly said. “The days of making money from newspapers or magazines are gone. We need community ownership.”

Bill Densmore, of Williamstown, Mass., a director Journalism That Matters, suggested much of long form journalism is now moving to books.

Densmore closed the session and left the audience with the questions of: how do we get what’s left of the main stream media to tell the story of sustainable living?


Caitlyn Kelleher