What is a Civil newsroom?

I would like to ask the community to consider two newsrooms: A Bit Cryptic and Culture Hustlers. The reason I ask this is because I think they are illustrative of a core challenge facing our Registry and this community. Both of these produce content which is journalistic and has integrity, at least as far as I can tell (both produce podcasts, though this is only part of what Culture Hustlers does, while it is A Bit Cryptic’s entire output).

In essentially every other way, however, these newsrooms do not comply with the Civil Constitution. They do not have privacy statements, editorial statements, conflict of interest declarations, etc. (Please see their Discourse channels for a more detailed discussion). Both newsrooms have been approached; one (ABC) has not responded at all, while the other has responded, but seems reluctant to take corrective measures. (Please know that I am not targeting these newsrooms, merely using them as an illustration; there are many others with similar issues).

It has been suggested by some community members that having solid content should be sufficient, and that such newsrooms should simply be encouraged to comply in other ways, but not be challenged if they fail to comply, as long as their content is honest. The counterargument is that the Constitution means what it says, and any deviation should be challenged, as long as the newsroom is given an opportunity to come into compliance and fails to do so.

It seems to me that we are at a crossroads of sorts, that as a community we will need to decide which of these visions predominates. Neither is more essentially correct; I have my bias, but recognize it as such. I would love to see a discussion here of what is the preferred course. One of the central issues facing any token curated registry is that, by it’s very nature, a TCR is black and white–you are either on the island or off the island; there is no in-between. Currently, the only recourse we have is to challenge a newsroom and see what the outcome is. But even then, we rarely know what the rationale for the vote was, and must infer from multiple challenges and scattered comments what the mood of the community is. Yes, I know, this individual thinking combining for a group decision is a core value of a TCR, the avoidance of groupthink seemingly of greater importance than community. But those of us who are actively involved in Civil are not here merely as curators or voters, but as members of a tribe which cares deeply about certain core values, those of integrity, honesty, quality, depth, and compassion. I would deeply appreciate anything any of you have to share that would shed light on how you see Civil working in the world, and in particular with these two newsrooms as an example of the quandary we face. Thanks for reading.

Copying over my full response from Slack:

My view, which I have previously discussed in more detail on Discourse, is that any Conflict of Interest violations should be thoroughly enforced and that A Bit Cryptic should be challenged, especially given the lack of response. With Culture Hustlers, my feeling is that we should make a very specific list of our current concerns and give them a set period of time prior to challenging. If they come to comply, the problem is solved. If they don’t, the time for discussion has passed and we challenge them.

@Benzeene, I would particularly appreciate your comments on this.

First of all, I want to say that I appreciate everyone’s input on this. This is not an easy discussion, nor is there an obvious path forward. Much of this discussion hinges upon where we are as a community, and whether we are trying to build that community, or to qualify the members of that community. This is not to say that rules of engagement are not important, but to recognize that newsrooms who are introducing themselves, are most likely start up organizations that may not have access or knowledge to be able to make corrections in a timely way. As I see it, civil is a platform in development. As such, there need to be general guidelines that are followed - and are unfortunately dependent on figuring out intent. But it does concern me in the context of a token-driven voting scheme, which ends up in a black or white choice, that we may be cutting off our nose to spite our face. In general, my sense is that we want to build a wide variety of honest opinions and journalism as a base to build off of. We are in build mode after all. Due to the non-fuzzy token approach towards challenging, maybe it’s too early to be too demanding in this regard. But I can see a time, once the community is rich and varied, when it would be appropriate to be very demanding of rules of engagement. At minimum, I think giving generous amounts of time for response is sensible, and I think that providing sources of boilerplate legalese would also be very helpful to these start up members. That way, we are providing a rational way forward for those communities who are well-meaning and have journalistic integrity.

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