Journalist and academician Chuck Stone's repudiation of public (or civic) journalism in this issue of SJR is a major blow to the 1990s movement. Stone's stature lent credibility to public journalism in significant ways. His repudiation is significantly damning.
It's also a setback for Cole Campbell, a leading practitioner and advocate of public journalism.
Some public journalists saw one of Campbell's first moves as the new editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch - ringing in Chuck Stone as the paper's mayoral election ombudsman - as a public journalism initiative.
Stone's function was, in part, to "connect" the paper with the St. Louis black community, which has traditionally been suspicious of the paper's motives. One of the primary missions of public journalism is "connectedness," to connect with disenfranchised segments of a newspaper's community.
The black community's skepticism was at a peak when the St. Louis daily initiated coverage of the 1997 mayoral race between incumbent Freeman Bosley Jr. and challenger Clarence Harmon. The paper's coverage of the …