What do you do when you’re at a crossroads? When, say, you team doesn’t agree on the next step or even the direction you’re moving?

This is the position we found ourselves in this week as a schism formed over whether our Report for America prototype should be focused only on reporting or also including a teaching component, which would redirect some of the financial burden away from newspapers to schools.

We originally discussed the competing models on an ideological basis: “I think,” “I feel,” etc. But it became quickly apparent the only way to settle this kind of dispute was to collect more information. “This survey showed…” instead of “I think….” or “This newspaper agreed…” instead of “I feel…”

And so that’s what we did. And using a combination of surveying, interviewing and researching, we came to the conclusion that a ‘journalism only’ model was the more feasible and viable model. This was a critical discovery and one that would determine the future of our product, and it was essential that we shift the focus from subjective to objective. Because you can argue something to be true until you’re blue in the face, but, ultimately, it is cold, hard facts that determine the correct answer.

Previously on America Media Corps:

Keys to prototype development: Researching and networking

With one foot firmly planted, my team pivots slightly

Embracing changes to your shiny new idea

IRB patience lends time to dig deeper

Two key strategies for the beginning stages of a prototype

Why IRB calls for specificity 

How might we meet the information needs of communities?

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