Introducing Galley: A new forum to talk about journalism

Welcome to Galley. Or, for some of you, welcome back.

For years now, we’ve been looking for a way to open up CJR, to invite people in to talk, to debate, to think things through.

It is one of the biggest frustrations of the media moment in which we live: precisely when there is so much in journalism to discuss, the places we can have those conversations seem inadequate. Reader comments sections grew toxic; many outlets did away with them. Email to a generic address seems too impersonal. Facebook is too generic and politically fraught. And Twitter, where most of the journalistic conversation still happens, is a useful but chaotic place, mined with booby traps, jabbing, and outrage—not a forum for nuanced, thoughtful exchange. And yet that is what we all so desperately need.

People talk about social platforms as town squares, but Galley is really more of a neighborhood for journalism. You decide the experience you want, largely based on whom you trust. If you want a public square, where maybe someone’s standing on a milk crate railing about injustice while a crowd watches on, you can do that, by following along in a conversation open to everyone. But there’s also the option of a more quiet, one-on-one conversation just with people you trust. Designating those people is as simple as clicking the trust button on their profile. Different conversations and topics can be open to different groups of people, depending on your mood, on the subject matter, on who else is involved. It’s all entirely up to you.

If you’re in the mood for a big public event, you can participate by watching public Q&As or AMAs open to everyone. If you’d rather have a space to think things through, without the risk of a crowd of people shouting you down for asking a dumb question, you can start a private chat and invite only the people you know best. Questions can be more important than takes.

I have long thought that CJR should be an important venue for meaningful conversations about journalism. Every time there’s something seismic in the news—a threatened reporter, a chaotic presidential press conference, an important scoop—people reach out to us wanting to talk. They send us emails with tips and thoughts, tag us in Twitter conversations, leave phone messages. They are seeking somewhere to gather, and they see CJR as the place that can provide that forum.

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That is what we’re trying to do here. Galley was first launched a year ago by Josh Young and Tom McGeveran. Tom was a former colleague of mine at the New York Observer and I was among the first band of users. Like many others, I was impressed by the idea and the potential. So when Josh and Tom approached me about bringing Galley in under CJR, I jumped. Their guidance as we’ve thought this through has been invaluable. People who were part of the initial Galley experiment will remain on board; our hope is to grow the crowd substantially.

So this is now the place to talk to and with CJR. It’s free and available on the web, on mobile, and as an app. Look for interviews, AMAs, articles, posts, and conversation threads. Or start your own and invite who you want—everybody or just those three other folks you love to talk to about the state of journalism. There’s a lot more we can do, and a lot more you can do. We’ve written a primer on how to use Galley to help you make the best of it. But the best way to get started is to get started.

I look forward to our conversation.

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Kyle Pope is the Editor in Chief and Publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review.