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PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine
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Like PressThink? More from the same pen:

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 23, 2003

Editors Rock Who Let Weblogs Roll

Web thinking advances and contracts at the Sacramento Bee

1.) Advance

The editorial board of the Sacramento Bee has started a blog to thrash out (some) issues among themselves in a public setting. The authors are six editors whose business is opinion at the Bee. Good editorial pages have always induced argument among editors, writers and columnists. That’s how you test ideas, and figure out if they are cracked.

The Bee’s editorial page has taken a nice next step, by shifting some of its internal debate online. This could have several effects. First, it generates another layer of public comment for the board to sift in, since the blog will draw responses. It creates an arena where the newspaper can argue with itself through the medium of individual voices, which might make the Bee more human, truer to life. It reduces even further the ex-cathedra tone that still afflicts too many editorial pages. (Blogs can but tend not to come from the mountaintop.) The new weblog’s header says: “The views expressed here are those of individual writers, not of the editorial board as a whole.”

Precisely. Of course, group-written blogs have been succeeding online for some time. Crooked Timber is a standout; I also like Philosophy from the (617). The Bee’s innovation is adapting for mainstream use a Web form that first emerged on the margins— the margins of what some (like Glenn Reynolds, lately) call Big Media. Sacramento is medium big, but important.

Editorial board in a politics-driven town does new group weblog in Movable Type. By these gradual means the Web is teaching journalism back to journalists… on the Web. For when you have to decide how to use the form, when you’re sitting at your desk and there are things strange, wonderful and new on your screen, you may have to re-decide what journalism “is” and is finally about, in order to cover the new class of cases that arise when you’re doing it live online. For example, the Bee’s editors will probably start out by exchanging opinions in approximation of an existing dialogue in-house. But as soon as one of them discovers “argument by link,” their idea of what they’re doing may change. To force this moment upon mainstream journalism in setting after setting could be the Weblog’s gift to the newsroom.

2.) Retreat

I am with a host of web critics who objected to the Sacramento Bee’s decision that Daniel Weintraub, author of the highly effective and gutsy weblog, California Insider, will now have to pass his copy through an editor before posting, because of complaints from Latinos and others about something he wrote that was offensive, insensitive or sadly true— depending on where you sit. The relentless Mickey Kaus has the story that other bloggers are buzzing about. See Instapundit and Jeff Jarvis too.

It’s important to state that the Bee was within right and reason to do this… but it’s still a setback for Web elan there, not because Weintraub will be greatly affected by it (I don’t know that will happen) but because there were more progressive and bolder options available when the ongoing blog experiment at the Bee hit a rock. After all, it is a problem for management to receive a complaint it cannot reject out of hand, and then have to admit: we don’t edit Weintraub, we just employ, publish and promote him.

The progressive option for top brass was to say to the staffers in house who objected (“we get edited, who’s editing him?”) and the influential Latinos who complained:

Dan Weintraub is learning that he is edited by his readers, including the angry ones. I want you to write him at his weblog, and I will encourage him to respond at length in that space. But that, of course, will be ultimately up to him. We’ll put your letters on line in full, so they can be linked to. We’re going to look at more editing oversight, but we don’t want to kill this experiment, so help us out and write him something hard hitting and apt. I see this as a major challenge for Dan and his editors and I do want to see how they respond.

Could be I am wrong, but I am not entirely sure the Sacramento Bee realizes that for the moment it is part of the national press, due to the big recall events in California, due to its hustle for the latest news and its deep knowledge of the terrain, due also to the simple fact that it’s available online, and the Web antennae are out, picking up on what’s good. Weintraub is good, and he is pushing the form a little from within Big Media. One gets the sense from reading him that a career’s worth of knowledge is behind his posts.

I once heard Thomas Boswell, the great baseball writer of the Washington Post, explain why he stuck to sports when his achievements could have taken him anywhere. His answer was that when he covered a baseball game, the rules of sportswriting allowed him to use every little thing he learned or thought at the ballpark, and if it didn’t get into his column, it was because he was not a good enough writer that night. In newswriting, Boswell implied, this was not the case. But maybe it is the case, in newswriting by blog…

The Bee’s ombudsman returns to the case, after feeleing the deluge from outraged webloggers. This piece in PressThink is cited, but it’s odd that the Bee’s online operation cannot seem to set a link. Maybe it’s a policy thing. Repeat after me, editors: it’s a Bee plus to be discussed… online.

Scott Rosenberg of Salon adds a sharp, organize-your-mind analysis.

Excellent reported piece by Mark Glaser on the whole blog controversy, via Online Journalism Review. He interviewed Bee staff, including Weintraub.

The Dallas Morning News has an editorial board blog, more advanced than the Bee’s, and it has an item about my post here. Editorial writer Rod Dreher says: “I think it’s important for us on this blog to do ‘argument by link’ as often as possible. It adds to our credibility with readers by letting them know that we’re not just talking through our hats.” The Dallas entry is worth checking out.

Here’s Fresh Potatoes on the Weintraub flap. Here’s Daniel Drezner. Here’s Tom Mangan with an editor’s view (useful).

Here’s an old interview with Weintraub by Poynter’s Bill Mitchell:

Of course, I like the Bee; they published this.

Posted by Jay Rosen at September 23, 2003 1:47 AM   Print


Please present some balance in your blog references. "Rittenhouse Review" is hard left; "Crooked Timber" is moderate left. Such imbalance calls your own moderate stance into question. ... or am I mistaking this blog for a moderate site?

Posted by: david at September 23, 2003 10:13 AM | Permalink

David, instead of offering political invective, it might be more helpful to suggest specific blogs for future citations. The criteria should be intelligence and helpfulness, not the kind of simple-minded political "balance" that characterizes the mainstream media.

Posted by: JD Lasica at September 28, 2003 7:48 PM | Permalink

Prof. Rosen,

Funny that Dreher mentions "argument by link," since the DMN edblog removed permalinks from their site after it premiered in August and haven't responded to requests to return the links to the page. So if we want to reference something one of the edbloggers said, we appear to be "talking out of our hats" after it disappears from the main page.


Posted by: Bryan at October 21, 2003 1:47 PM | Permalink

From the Intro