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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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October 9, 2003

Special to PressThink: Interview With Jeff Jarvis, Part Two

It's a struggle to understand what the weblog form is capable of doing. Jeff Jarvis and I discover that in part two of my dialogue with Mr. Buzzmachine.

Jeff Jarvis has been a TV critic, a columnist, an editor at a big newspaper (NY Daily News) and at national magazines. Now he holds court at his weblog, Buzzmachine. Here’s the second part of our exchange:

PressThink: You and I have just returned from Blogger.con and we thought: why not compare notes? For me, relatively new to the we-do-weblogs world, it was like visiting a tribe whose din had been growing louder, and being asked to one of their ceremonies — and to stay overnight! What surprised me was the tight focus and excellent crap detection managed by crowd, leaders and hosts: minimal grandstanding, low tolerance for liberal cant, a natural tendency to return to place after tangents, and not much mumbo jumbo all ‘round. That, and my overwhelming sense of people on the move with the weblog and allied arts. They were temporarily encamped in Cambridge, and had a clear sense of mission.

Except they had something else too, sites that were each the rolling voice of one person, their individual Buzz Machines, their weblogs… bound together through the harsh rule of the Link. It was a typical writer’s conference, but then it wasn’t, because the People of Digital Paper (a term I was introduced to at Blogger.con) use this strange and wonderful surface, bearing powers unknown. So there you have it…. A tribe bearing digital tablets and crossing over, through Trent Lott Pass, onto the undefended edges of the mainstream media. Of course, I dramatize for effect and amusement. Nonetheless, there’s your first note. Now compare.

Jarvis: There’s another important angle that you will experience the deeper into this weblog addiction you fall: the personal connection. You come to know these people before you meet them — and when you do, they are exactly who you think they will be. One hears that at all these confabs: You’re just like your blog. Well, know my blog, know me. That was what struck me most after I started my weblog: I wasn’t just writing for a new audience, I was making new friends who now linked to me and said things to and about me and in the process, we got to know and like each other. It’s a vastly more intimate relationship than I’ve seen in any other medium. And that’s because, when you think about it, it’s the first true two-way relationship in any medium.

Also, you’re right, this is like a writer’s conference in that these people are driven not by money (there is none here) or power (though that is growing) but by passion (charitably) and ego (uncharitably): They do it for the love of it.

Now not to logroll my blogroll, but you said some lines that I heard quoted frequently at Bloggercon. You said that the mass audience is passing, that there never were any masses, only ways of seeing people as masses, and that readers are now writers (and the writers are now readers). I agree wholeheartedly; I believe the revolution is upon us. But many criticize the self-congratulatory air of Bloggercon, the utopianism, the bubble-blowing. So here’s my question, which I ask precisely because you are new to the party, you don’t yet have the glazed look of the addict: Are we overblowing this phenomenon?

PressThink: Well, I would be cautious about proclaiming any revolution. That was the one thing in the Harvard conference I found unwise and unnecessary. The weblog is an exciting form, the Internet holds many marvels, and the more I think about it, the more different the emerging pattern seems — compared to what we’re used to with The Media. But it’s a big leap from, “wow, this is way different” to “the revolution is upon us.”

First, there’s the problem Esther Dyson pointed to: when readers become writers, where do all the new writers get their readers? There may be answers to that (like the break up of huge impersonal audiences into smaller chunks) but it’s not a simple issue. Smart people in the media industry have known for some time that the hard limit on growth is people’s time: video games eat into television watching because there’s only so much time in the day.

Weblogs are a rich resource, but digging into that richness does take time. We’re still a speck on the big information screen; the number of users is tiny, and the number using weblogs in place of Big Media even smaller. Precisely because the tools are so easy to use, we can expect a flood of earnest mediocrity, which only adds to Dyson’s doubts.

But beyond these practical difficulties is another problem. The rhetoric of revolution—plus the excitement of being “in” on the new thing—can warp your expectations. People criticize the weblog world for being self-referential, and of course it is. But that doesn’t bother me. The danger is in expecting revolution on top of revolution. This came to a head at Harvard when Dave Winer, a skilled provocateur, said to the Dean campaign reps, “why are you taking the money raised on the Internet and spending it on TV ads?” Why not keep it where you got it, investing the money in even newer forms of two-way campaigning? This is where Josh Marshall of Talking Points and Scott Rosenberg of Salon started shaking their heads, and I understood why.

Sometimes reform has more radical effects than revolution. If Dean spent the money on TV ads to remain competitive, but used the two-way weblog world to explain, restrain, justify, and correct the ads he was putting out, so that they didn’t look, feel or sound like anyone else’s ads, that would be a significant reform, and it would shift power from consultants to supporters, forcing him to legitimate his propaganda. Pretty radical, no?

Jarvis: Right, getting back down to earth, the impact of weblogs is perhaps more practical than revolutionary. For example…

In politics: At the Bloggercon session on presidential politics at which I played Phil Donahue, Eric Foley of the Democratic National Committee said his best of use of weblogs is to hear the way voters are talking about issues so he can gather new and improved arguments in favor of the stances the party already takes, arguments that will resonate with voters because they come from voters. Beats focus groups.

For media: If they/we are smart, weblogs are a way for us to see what our marketplace really cares about. And weblogs are a way for us to find good stories (the Chicago Tribune has a reporter, Maureen Ryan, who’s dedicated to trolling the Web for stories— very smart).

For marketers: Once advertisers figure it out, weblogs will be a tremendous tool for targeted marketing, giving messages to consumers that they actually care about. As Chris Locke said in his book, Gonzo Marketing, weblogs will be a way for marketers to find common ground with their markets (for example, a wise food company would had underwritten the Julie/Julia blog project to say to its fans, “We like this too; we have taste, just like you; let’s hug”).

For (the-people-formerly-known-as) the audience: I disagree with Esther Dyson and you on the overload of mediocrity. Links solve that problem. If the blog is good and useful, it will get links and it will get discovered; if it’s bad and doesn’t get linked, it won’t waste your time. In fact, blogs should save you time, for that is their real value: “We read everything so you don’t have to. We find the best and link you to it.” Weblogs edit the world for us. And if you also write weblogs, they empower the writer to influence politics and commerce and culture. Is that a revolution? Perhaps not. But it is change. It’s change that will make a difference, change that will matter.

PressThink: Alright, maybe the Darwinian struggle for links does work. I will cross that off my list of worries for now. And if I were a weblog, I would be way more comfortable with the kind of slow, steady, practical changes you describe. If there is something radical afoot, I think it’s best grasped by reference to the last 300 years of communication history. The dawn of public opinion was in the eighteenth century when someone said: the Greeks were wrong, you can have a republic over an extended territory. Government by discussion does not have to be limited to a state so small that all its citizens can gather in one place, like the agora in ancient Athens.

What made this previously unthinkable thing possible? The existence of the press, which can amplify or extend public conversation, and sustain it through time. By putting citizens of an enlarged democracy at the receiving end of the press, we connected them to the nation and its affairs, but not to each other. Now we have a chance to correct for that, and bring government by discussion forward a full step. Maybe that chance is the weblog.

Click here for part one of this dialogue.

Posted by Jay Rosen at October 9, 2003 11:37 PM   Print


People often say that blogs are self-referential, because of our linking and discussion practices. This is meant to be a negative comment, as though it were a shortfall. And the words "self-referential" do imply some sort of navel gazing. But considering your blog (and I would like to think mine) are discussing serious academic topics, I would say that the better term is linked-discussion, that is transparent. While journalists often visit blogs (I've read entries, and seen the thing show up unattributed in news articles three days later...) or read articles and then write their own, with little reference, blogs allow the transparent tracking of the conversation, the iterations of ideas, that can be discussed in "groupthink" (kind of like pressthink... but for blogs). I think it is a very useful way to understand what is happening and admit that we don't think up every idea discussed in every post. No one does. But some excellent discourse happens in these "groups" (often groups spring up over a particular topic and then dissipate for a different group and discussion), and in blogging, we see it reflected in links. I think traditional journalism could learn a bit from this, by considering some reference for stories and ideas in their postings. It's not so much that attribution is important (I'm okay with a no rights reserved policy), but knowing where the thread has comes from gives context and history, and would be very helpful for readers and discussants.


Posted by: mary hodder at October 10, 2003 2:11 AM | Permalink

From the Intro