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PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine
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Read about Jay Rosen's book, What Are Journalists For?

Excerpt from Chapter One of What Are Journalists For? "As Democracy Goes, So Goes the Press."

Essay in Columbia Journalism Review on the changing terms of authority in the press, brought on in part by the blog's individual--and interactive--style of journalism. It argues that, after Jayson Blair, authority is not the same at the New York Times, either.

"Web Users Open the Gates." My take on ten years of Internet journalism, at

Read: Q & As

Jay Rosen, interviewed about his work and ideas by journalist Richard Poynder

Achtung! Interview in German with a leading German newspaper about the future of newspapers and the Net.

Audio: Have a Listen

Listen to an audio interview with Jay Rosen conducted by journalist Christopher Lydon, October 2003. It's about the transformation of the journalism world by the Web.

Five years later, Chris Lydon interviews Jay Rosen again on "the transformation." (March 2008, 71 minutes.)

Interview with host Brooke Gladstone on NPR's "On the Media." (Dec. 2003) Listen here.

Presentation to the Berkman Center at Harvard University on open source journalism and NewAssignment.Net. Downloadable mp3, 70 minutes, with Q and A. Nov. 2006.

Video: Have A Look

Half hour video interview with Robert Mills of the American Microphone series. On blogging, journalism, NewAssignment.Net and distributed reporting.

Jay Rosen explains the Web's "ethic of the link" in this four-minute YouTube clip.

"The Web is people." Jay Rosen speaking on the origins of the World Wide Web. (2:38)

One hour video Q & A on why the press is "between business models" (June 2008)

Recommended by PressThink:

Town square for press critics, industry observers, and participants in the news machine: Romenesko, published by the Poynter Institute.

Town square for weblogs: InstaPundit from Glenn Reynolds, who is an original. Very busy. Very good. To the Right, but not in all things. A good place to find voices in diaolgue with each other and the news.

Town square for the online Left. The Daily Kos. Huge traffic. The comments section can be highly informative. One of the most successful communities on the Net.

Rants, links, blog news, and breaking wisdom from Jeff Jarvis, former editor, magazine launcher, TV critic, now a J-professor at CUNY. Always on top of new media things. Prolific, fast, frequently dead on, and a pal of mine.

Eschaton by Atrios (pen name of Duncan B;ack) is one of the most well established political weblogs, with big traffic and very active comment threads. Left-liberal.

Terry Teachout is a cultural critic coming from the Right at his weblog, About Last Night. Elegantly written and designed. Plus he has lots to say about art and culture today.

Dave Winer is the software wiz who wrote the program that created the modern weblog. He's also one of the best practicioners of the form. Scripting News is said to be the oldest living weblog. Read it over time and find out why it's one of the best.

If someone were to ask me, "what's the right way to do a weblog?" I would point them to Doc Searls, a tech writer and sage who has been doing it right for a long time.

Ed Cone writes one of the most useful weblogs by a journalist. He keeps track of the Internet's influence on politics, as well developments in his native North Carolina. Always on top of things.

Rebecca's Pocket by Rebecca Blood is a weblog by an exemplary practitioner of the form, who has also written some critically important essays on its history and development, and a handbook on how to blog.

Dan Gillmor used to be the tech columnist and blogger for the San Jose Mercury News. He now heads a center for citizen media. This is his blog about it.

A former senior editor at Pantheon, Tom Englehardt solicits and edits commentary pieces that he publishes in blog form at TomDispatches. High-quality political writing and cultural analysis.

Chris Nolan's Spot On is political writing at a high level from Nolan and her band of left-to-right contributors. Her notion of blogger as a "stand alone journalist" is a key concept; and Nolan is an exemplar of it.

Barista of Bloomfield Avenue is journalist Debbie Galant's nifty experiment in hyper-local blogging in several New Jersey towns. Hers is one to watch if there's to be a future for the weblog as news medium.

The Editor's Log, by John Robinson, is the only real life honest-to-goodness weblog by a newspaper's top editor. Robinson is the blogging boss of the Greensboro News-Record and he knows what he's doing.

Fishbowl DC is about the world of Washington journalism. Gossip, controversies, rituals, personalities-- and criticism. Good way to keep track of the press tribe in DC

PJ Net Today is written by Leonard Witt and colleagues. It's the weblog of the Public Journalisn Network (I am a founding member of that group) and it follows developments in citizen-centered journalism.

Here's Simon Waldman's blog. He's the Director of Digital Publishing for The Guardian in the UK, the world's most Web-savvy newspaper. What he says counts.

Novelist, columnist, NPR commentator, Iraq War vet, Colonel in the Army Reserve, with a PhD in literature. How many bloggers are there like that? One: Austin Bay.

Betsy Newmark's weblog she describes as "comments and Links from a history and civics teacher in Raleigh, NC." An intelligent and newsy guide to blogs on the Right side of the sphere. I go there to get links and comment, like the teacher said.

Rhetoric is language working to persuade. Professor Andrew Cline's Rhetorica shows what a good lens this is on politics and the press.

Davos Newbies is a "year-round Davos of the mind," written from London by Lance Knobel. He has a cosmopolitan sensibility and a sharp eye for things on the Web that are just... interesting. This is the hardest kind of weblog to do well. Knobel does it well.

Susan Crawford, a law professor, writes about democracy, technology, intellectual property and the law. She has an elegant weblog about those themes.

Kevin Roderick's LA Observed is everything a weblog about the local scene should be. And there's a lot to observe in Los Angeles.

Joe Gandelman's The Moderate Voice is by a political independent with an irrevant style and great journalistic instincts. A link-filled and consistently interesting group blog.

Ryan Sholin's Invisible Inkling is about the future of newspapers, online news and journalism education. He's the founder of and a self-taught Web developer and designer.

H20town by Lisa Williams is about the life and times of Watertown, Massachusetts, and it covers that town better than any local newspaper. Williams is funny, she has style, and she loves her town.

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing at is a daily review of the best reporting and commentary on the presidency. Read it daily and you'll be extremely well informed.

Rebecca MacKinnon, former correspondent for CNN, has immersed herself in the world of new media and she's seen the light (great linker too.)

Micro Persuasion is Steve Rubel's weblog. It's about how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the business of persuasion. Rubel always has the latest study or article.

Susan Mernit's blog is "writing and news about digital media, ecommerce, social networks, blogs, search, online classifieds, publishing and pop culture from a consultant, writer, and sometime entrepeneur." Connected.

Group Blogs

CJR Daily is Columbia Journalism Review's weblog about the press and its problems, edited by Steve Lovelady, formerly of the Philadelpia Inquirer.

Lost Remote is a very newsy weblog about television and its future, founded by Cory Bergman, executive producer at KING-TV in Seattle. Truly on top of things, with many short posts a day that take an inside look at the industry.

Editors Weblog is from the World Editors Fourm, an international group of newspaper editors. It's about trends and challenges facing editors worldwide. keeps track of developments from the British side of the Atlantic. Very strong on online journalism.

Digests & Round-ups:

Memeorandum: Single best way I know of to keep track of both the news and the political blogosphere. Top news stories and posts that people are blogging about, automatically updated.

Daily Briefing: A categorized digest of press news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

Press Notes is a round-up of today's top press stories from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Richard Prince does a link-rich thrice-weekly digest called "Journalisms" (plural), sponsored by the Maynard Institute, which believes in pluralism in the press.

Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

E-Media Tidbits from the Poynter Institute is group blog by some of the sharper writers about online journalism and publishing. A good way to keep up

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September 30, 2003

It's Opinion. No, it's News. No, Mr. Jones, it's a Weblog

A passing sentence in a New York Times article, slowed way down, shows how weblogs are currently confounding press think.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 3:39 PM

September 29, 2003

Special to PressThink: Interview with Merrill Brown

The news business has always been a closed field that "embraces change and innovation when it’s in crisis," says the former editor-in-chief of He also says the walls are coming down.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 9:11 AM

September 28, 2003

Unbuilding at Ground Zero and Rebuilding in Iraq

Americans are known by their distinctive method for tackling practical probems. The U.S. military is full of Americans. Is there a story there?

Posted by Jay Rosen at 12:41 AM | Comments (5)

September 26, 2003

Op Ed with Todd Gitlin: Ashcroft is Unprintable

On tour he bars the press and cozies up to local TV reporters

Posted by Jay Rosen at 9:17 AM | Comments (1)

September 25, 2003

Special to Press Think: Interview with Jeff Jarvis

Jeff Jarvis started Entertainment Weekly. Now he's a born again journalist who got religion about the Web. So how has his press thinking evolved?

Posted by Jay Rosen at 8:29 PM | Comments (1)

September 24, 2003

Rapidly Improving Iraq vs. Overly Gloomy Press

Charging journalists with too much bad news can be bad news for your charge. It flips a switch in press circuitry. Expect strange results.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 1:23 AM | Comments (9)

September 23, 2003

Editors Rock Who Let Weblogs Roll

Web thinking advances and contracts at the Sacramento Bee

Posted by Jay Rosen at 1:47 AM | Comments (3)

September 22, 2003

Spokesman for Press Priesthood Laughs

Jack Shafer of Slate says public journalism bombed. Here's what I say back to him.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 10:02 AM | Comments (8)

September 18, 2003

The View from Nowhere

Is ABC the most anti-war network? Ridiculous, says Peter Jennings. And it is... to him.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 8:59 PM | Comments (4)

September 16, 2003

John Ashcroft: National Explainer

"Not talking to print. Only talking to television." Why the Attorney General feels justified doing that.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 5:13 PM

September 16, 2003

Special to PressThink: Interview with Todd Gitlin

The critic Todd Gitlin discusses John Ashcroft's contempt for the press and the weak solidarity among journalists.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 9:08 AM | Comments (3)

September 13, 2003

How Do You Cover 133 Candidates for Governor?

Follow the idea race. It might lead somewhere. Better than "probable winners win our attention because they're probably going to win."

Posted by Jay Rosen at 12:38 PM | Comments (3)

September 10, 2003

Flagship Turns : A Public Editor At the Times of New York

The ombudsman is here because the doctrine against it collapsed. But pride says the Times cannot copy the Post. What's Bill Keller to do?

Posted by Jay Rosen at 1:17 AM

September 9, 2003

Blocking Assignment: Ashcroft's End Run

The Attorney General won't talk to "print," only TV. How does he get away with that? Ask the television crews breezing by.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 7:08 PM | Comments (3)

September 9, 2003

Special to PressThink: Interview with Michelle Nicolosi

The editor of Online Journalism Review talks about the end of passivity at the receiving end of news. Blogs as journalism. Press authority online. Plus she gives good link.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 12:18 PM

September 8, 2003

Advance Man

Should candidates get debate questions in advance? One theory (alright, it's mine) says yes. In California, they're about to try...

Posted by Jay Rosen at 6:31 PM

September 8, 2003

PressThink Basics: The Master Narrative in Journalism

Borrowed from Lit Crit, the term "master narrative" has come into use in journalism here and there. What is it? The story that generates all the other stories. I'll explain.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 2:43 PM | Comments (7)

September 3, 2003

The Terms of Authority Are Shifting

Readers and Viewers—Rich Now in Alternative Sources of News—Are More Assertive and Far Less in Awe of the Press, Which is Not a Bad Thing.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 2:20 PM

September 1, 2003

PressThink: An Introduction

Today we say media instead of "the press." But it's a mistake. The press has become the ghost of democracy in the media machine, and we need to keep it alive.

Posted by Jay Rosen at 4:03 PM | Comments (5)
From the Intro