Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Countdown to Credibility- 90 minutes away

ANNISTON-- So far no rain. That's a good sign as we quickly move into the final hour before the first Credibility Roundtable of the Knight Fellows in Community Journalism.

There are storms moving into Alabama and expected to be a factor in our weather situation in a few hours. It would be great if they held off until 9pm when the roundtable will be behind us.

As I transition from some afternoon research writing to getting dressed for the event, I am reminded of a rich discussion that occurred in our second afternoon pre-roundtable meeting.

Time did not permit me to explain that the first meeting was with members of the Anniston Star staff and the second was with the Knight Fellows enrolled in the Producing Community Journalism course. At both meetings, our guest moderators, Peggy Kuhr and Carol Nunnelley took the lead in gauging the expectations of those who are involved in the roundtable. The meetings gave us a chance to all get on the same page in terms of how things will proceed tonight.

One thing we realized in both meetings-- 90 minutes is not a lot of time. Traditionally, this is the longest you want to engage members of the community, but after time is factored in for the introductions and wrap-ups, there is not a lot of discussion time.

It's unclear how the time factor will influence our conversations tonight.

We hope there will be just enough time at the end for roundtable participants to complete a post-roundtable survey that will provide data that can be used to extend findings from the roundtable itself.

The question of numbers came up more in the second meeting. We agreed that the even a small crowd (5 or 6) will yield findings to add a much-needed dimension to the literature and give the paper some feedback it did not have about the Anniston City Schools.

The role and positioning of the Knight Fellows, Anniston Star editors and UA faculty was also greatly discussed in both meetings, with more clarification of those roles coming in the second meeting this afternoon.

It was decided that because the emphasis is on the members of the community, two Knight Fellows who have a connection to the Anniston City Schools through their involvement and/or background in education will be asked to sit at the table and be available as resource persons who speak ONLY when called on by the moderators.

The real speakers, the participants in the roundtable will be those from the community.

We'll see how it goes.


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