Our seven guiding principles:
1. Democracy thrives when we strive to be a more perfect union.
Coming together to solve the problems of American society – and then agreeing to the right balance of solutions – is ever a work in progress. We don’t expect to achieve perfection but we can always become better than we are. There is no single model for advancing the interests of the country; the beauty of our form of democratic capitalism is the organic nature of our problem-solving capacity. Leadership changes and alliances shift. Businesses, governments, advocacy groups, and other organizations often collide in the messiness of the historical record, but from those collisions we often find the resolve to create new models to solve new and unfamiliar problems.
2. Common purpose, not divisive speech or distortion and denial of facts, is what makes America great.
A laser-like focus on systemic problems and problem-solving can limit the influence of partisan distractions, distortions, and obfuscations that populate the headline-driven 24/7 news stream. It can also neutralize the vitriol found on social media. When given the opportunity, Americans have proven to be pragmatic problem-solvers and innovators generally not beholden to political, religious, or other ideologies. These characteristics of the independent pioneer are not just built into our national mythology – they are a part of our history.
3. Bias is a starting point for discussion, not a reason to dismiss a disagreeable point of view.
Our knowledge and what we understand of the world are necessarily shaped by our personal experiences and the people we listen to – this is our bias. Everyone has a bias, whether they admit to it or not. When we sift through observable evidence in trying to understand a problem or develop a solution, we increase our chances for success if we acknowledge our own biases and limits of knowledge as well as those of the people who disagree with us. This is the foundation for productive and persuasive dialogue.
4. Public discussion of systemic problems and their solutions requires that we maintain a clear sense of priorities.
Most, if not all, problems are relatively simple to explain and understand and solve when we remain focused on the one problem. Too often, efforts to understand discussions around a problem become confused and “complexed” because there are unspoken but conflicting priorities at play. Articulating and clarifying these priorities and then determining how best to integrate and balance them is paramount for advancing solutions that most effectively sustain and strengthen our American society.
5. Focus not on what newsmakers are saying on the public stage but how they are using the stage.
If our reporting is based solely on what the newsmakers allow us to see and hear, then they are controlling the narrative. We look beyond the often spun and sometimes manufactured events of the day to the newsmakers’ worldview and the historical threads that created our current landscape in order to help you better navigate your daily news stream.
6. Journalists and news consumers are a part of the story.
It is a fallacy that journalists can avoid putting themselves into the story. With politics increasingly a narrative battle, we become part of the story as soon as we publish. Likewise, as news consumers, we become part of the story once we give it our attention and choose, passively or otherwise, how we let it influence our lives. Remaining mindful that we are on the stage with the newsmakers can alter our sense of responsibility.
7. The truth is out there awaiting discovery, collection, and connection.
The volume of noise in the infosphere challenges our ability to keep up with the vast amounts of replicable, evidence-based knowledge being produced and made available. Our job is to gather that essential knowledge and connect the dots so that the news of the day can be better understood in a larger context that clarifies the multiple storylines shaping our world and helps to sort the priorities needed to sustain our thriving democracy.