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Charter Declaration

A Declaration for Public Journalism

Written by the Charter Members of the Public Journalism Network
Kennesaw, Georgia, January 25, 2003

The Public Journalism Network is a global professional association of journalists and educators interested in exploring and strengthening the relationship between journalism and democracy.

We believe journalism and democracy work best when news, information and ideas flow freely; when news fairly portrays the full range and variety of life and culture of all communities; when public deliberation is encouraged and amplified; and when news helps people function as political actors and not just as political consumers.

We believe journalists should stand apart in making sound professional judgments about how to cover communities, but cannot stand apart in learning about and understanding these communities.

We believe the diversity and fragmentation of society call for new techniques for storytelling and information-sharing to help individual communities define themselves singularly and as part of the whole set of communities.

We believe the stories and images journalists produce can help or hinder as people struggle to reach sound judgments about their personal lives and their common well-being.

We believe we must articulate a public philosophy for journalism that helps journalists reach deeper into the communities they serve and that helps communities work more closely with the journalists who serve them.

We believe democracy benefits when journalists listen to the people.

We believe we can learn and grow as practitioners, educators and scholars – and strengthen practice, education and scholarship – by examining, experimenting with and enhancing the theory and practice of journalism in relation to the theory and practice of democracy.

We believe in the value of studying the dynamics of communities and the complexity of public life. Just as journalists need to adhere to professional and financial discipline to succeed, we believe they must adhere to democratic discipline.

We believe the best journalism helps people see the world as a whole and helps them take responsibility for what they see.