Journalism practitioners to explore diversity & innovation at “Create or Die 2”

Innovators from across the country gathered June 2-5 at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro for a four-day journalism event hosted by Journalism That Matters and supported by Elon University’s School of Communications, the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Elon University and UNC-Greensboro.

Associate professor Michelle Ferrier and Gary Palin, executive director of the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership

“Create or Die 2” was the second “mashup” focused on journalism innovation and diverse communities and had been co-organized by associate professor Michelle Ferrier in Elon’s School of Communications.The program featured remarks by Gary Palin, executive director of the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business.

The goal of the meeting was to collaboratively design, initiate and develop digital projects that amplify diverse voices in new media. The program brought together journalists, technologists, bloggers, educators, funders, community activists, designers, social entrepreneurs, and others who care about telling stories in diverse communities. The format provides attendees with the opportunity to discuss those topics that are most pressing, while creating effective projects that bring real solutions.

“Create or Die 2” is being live-streamed on the Internet.

“North Carolina was a birthplace of change during the Civil Rights movement. We hope that it will be a birthplace of change during the new media revolution,” Ferrier said. “We created this ‘unconference’ not to serve as another echo chamber, but rather to provide individuals with the environment, networks and talent, tools and support needed to initiate ‘real-time’ projects that bring ‘real-time’ change.”

Contrary to popular belief, she said, as the media disruption continues, the number of diverse of voices in new media continues to decline. “Create or Die 2” takes steps towards making projects by and for people of color and underserved communities visible and viable.

The American Society of News Editors census found that from 2008 to 2009, the percentage of full-time minority journalists dropped by 12.6 percent. In addition, a digital divide continues to widen at an alarming pace. However, according to Pew, 51 percent of Hispanics and 46 percent of blacks use their phone to access the Internet, a contrast to the 33 percent of whites. Participants at “Create or Die 2” will look at mobile technologies, including platforms like phones and tablets as disrupters that serve diverse communities.

“The number of Latinos actually producing content online seems so low to me, that I feel as though we all know each other,” said Sandra Ordonez, freelance digital strategist. “Yes, technology opened windows and doors for traditionally ignored communities. However, as technology progresses, there is also a dramatic digital divide that is widening fast. If traditional media can’t keep up with the changes, why would we expect underserved populations to be doing better?”

“As new media finds its place, we can shift a tragic trend by involving an increasingly diverse public. The challenge is bringing more diverse voices to the table and creating more viable business models,” said Peggy Holman, co-founder of Journalism That Matters and author of Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity. “Who knows? With the innovation that comes through engaging diversity, it may prove the most strategic decision news organizations can make.”

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Journalism That Matters fosters the values, principles and purposes of journalism by supporting the people who are shaping the emerging news and information ecology. Additional information is available at

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