Rob: So, he talked them out of beating the crap out of him.
Peggy: And frankly, moved well beyond that, to a deeper consciousness about their own sense of selves, and their worldview, and where it came from, and why they might have gotten to a place where beating the crap out of him sounded like it would be a good thing to do, and let go of it.
Rob: So, maybe even went from him saving himself to saving them.
Rob: You know, it's rare that I don't in my radio show bring up Paulo Freire and the Pedagogy of the Oppressed. And here you add oppressors and a guy they were going to oppress, and Freire says it takes the oppressed to free the oppressors, and it looks like that's what he was doing there: waking them up, creating a dialogue and helping them to free themselves.
Rob: Nice simple story that tells that too. So, we're running near the end of the interview, but I wanted to cover one more thing with you and that is, you've worked a lot with the transition journalism, and I'd like to hear a little bit about what you do with that, where it's going, and what you're seeing in that realm, because frankly, the other thing that I'd do is I run OpEdnews.com, which I started as a blog, and which has emerged as one of the top 100 blogs overall in the world according to Technorati. And so I'm very interested in where journalism is heading, and have had my own unique experience where I have over 50 volunteer editors and have, since 2005, published over almost 140,000 articles. It's going to pass one hundred forty thousand [ 140,000] this weekend.
Rob: Thank you.
Peggy: It's such a profoundly powerful and strong conundrum. I got involved with journalists because my experience in working organizations is that communication systems--the stories that we tell--shape our worldview, and that shapes our behavior, and journalists are cultural storytellers. My feeling was, that the stories that we were being told, this was back in about '99; there was a shooting at a Jewish community center that was racially motivated and--
Rob: The L.A. area if I recall.
Peggy: That's right. Yes, it was. And such shootings were a pretty rare event at that point, and it got me thinking about this notion of storytelling, and knowing that "You change the story, you change our world." And so that's where my commitment to working with journalists came from, and what I discovered was I was stepping into it just as journalism as we know it, was really beginning to--you know, it's been declining. Newspaper readership has been declining for at least more than a generation, but it was really beginning to accelerate. And I found myself asking the question, "What does it take to change a social system?" and managed to hook-up, having decided to work with them--with an editor who, at that point, was the incoming president of a news organization Who asked the question, "What would it take to have a conversation about the future of journalism?"
And what we have done--journalismthatmatters.org is our website. What we've done over the last ten years has been convening conversations amongst the people who are re-imagining news and information around questions that matter to them. And the feedback that we've gotten through the years is that this is the only place where conversations were taking place that were forward focused, that were about new possibilities, rather than the " Woe is me," or "the industry is falling apart," that has been taking place in most places. And the things that I'd say that we're learning are things like, journalism is still about the public good and it is now entrepreneurial. And we did a series these last two years called "Create or Die ," that was really focused principally on journalists' color, because mainstream journalism is about 85% Caucasian. And personally, I think part of the reason that people have fallen away--generally, journalists blame it on the changes and technology, and certainly that's been a factor. I personally think it has more to do with content that doesn't relate to ordinary people and their needs.
And when you look at the mismatch between the racial makeup of mainstream journalism and the population at large, I think that kind of "out of touch-ness" is part of it. So one of the "Ahas!" out of these "Create or Die" gatherings has been the notion that communities need to take responsibility for their own story, and one way of doing that is embedding journalists in community.