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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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October 17, 2003

What's Conservative About the Weblog Form in Journalism?

These ten things. Got another idea? Hit the comment button.

By “conservative” I do not mean “affiliated with the GOP,” or “listener to Rush Limbaugh,” or coming from the right wing. To ask what’s conservative about weblogs as a form for journalism is to ask: what’s “old” about the new? Which known truths (about media, journalism, truthtelling, life) tend to be verified by the weblog form— even with its radically different and transforming features? “Conservative” here says the old rules still apply, ancient wisdom is indeed wise, the authority of the ages holds— and that sort of thing. So in that sense, and only that sense, here are:

Ten Things Conservative About the Weblog Form in Journalism.

1.) Weblogs deal in the golden rule, modified to read: link unto others as you would have them link unto you.

2.) As an entrant in the marketplace of ideas, the weblog obeys—and does not repeal—the ancient laws of supply and demand. The “news” from some sites will be in demand more than the stuff from others. Just as most new businesses fail, most new weblogs fail. That’s the marketplace.

3.) In the weblog world, charity—giving it away—leads to heaven.

4.) Age has advantages over youth. People who have been at this a while know a lot, (so do their weblogs.) A wise move for newcomers is to learn from what’s been done, honoring those who have come before— your elders in Net time.

5.) A weblog in revolt against journalistic authority will discover that it needs itself some kind of authority, (even if it’s among like-minded rebels) and thus the revolt is always a limited and partial one.

6.) The quality of any weblog in journalism depends greatly on its fidelity to age old newsroom commandments (virtues) like check facts, check links, spell things correctly, be accurate, be timely, quote fairly. And as Roy Peter Clark says, if you’re telling a story and there’s a dog, get the name of the dog.

7.) People still want to know: how do you know this? What expertise, body of knowledge, authority, or direct experience lies behind a weblog’s statements about the world?

8.) As with all journalism, being first counts. Good weblogs break news, even if it’s just news of another good weblog born or a nugget of information newly available.

9.) The weblog is continuous—not a revolutionary break—with five hundred years of print culture. It is the printed page, modernized, interconnected, made two-way, but still… “powered by movable type.”

10.) Without faith in a higher power (some call it the blogosphere), an individual life of weblog freedom is impoverished.

What’s Radical About the Weblog Form in Journalism?

Posted by Jay Rosen at October 17, 2003 8:15 PM   Print


Pretty neat. Like the links you included.

I view most blogs, of all political persuasions, liberal in the traditional meaning of the word.
You can say what you want. There are no 'PC Police' to censor what you say.

You are challenged to support your view(s) with reasoned arguments and facts. You're exposed to views you may not agree with that cause you to think.

In one sense, blogs are what our colleges used to be. Places for the free exchange of ideas with no censorship. Places to learn from others and to have others learn from you. You can take the information provided in a blog and research to see if the facts are correct.

Of course, some blogs are just shouting matches, others are places where existing world views are just affirmed and not challenged. But there are blogs that rise above all that. These blogs inform and challenge you, while at the same time allowing you to participate in, and add to, the discussion.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at October 18, 2003 5:07 AM | Permalink

This is a very practical addition, maybe to No. 6: I think readers and blog conversants want to see corrections and updates explicitly noted. When we were making the biplog, Paul Grabowicz was insistent that we include this as part of our editorial responsibilities. Since biplog posters were from Boalt (law), CS, SIMS (info sci) as well as the JSchool, they didn't necessarily have the traditional journalism perspective. We are all used to changing/updating our webpages, and we don't think too much about a reader or linker who might show up after the change, confused because the old information is no longer there. So therefore, corrections and updating for the biplog try to follow traditional journalistic standards.

Those inflamed, passionate class discussions taught us all a lot about why journalistic integrity is important and how to implement it practically on a blog. Also, when it's come up that a reader has argued about the factual nature of content on the biplog, we have tried to accommodate their view points, by adding the information, or correcting the information. Corrections and updating are part of the conversations we have with readers, and are part of the process iterating knowledge on the subjects we discuss and learn about from each other. It's organic and ongoing, and that part may be what's radical about blogs, but what's conservative is that people need to see the trail, explicitly, as though it were printed on paper, not bits (tracelessly changeable) onscreen.

See what we came up with (it's evolved somewhat since we went live 11/15/03 as we've learned more about the genre of blogging):

Posted by: mary hodder at October 18, 2003 1:36 PM | Permalink

Correction: I meant above that we went live 11/15/02.

Posted by: mary hodder at October 18, 2003 1:38 PM | Permalink

Much food for thought and discussion here, but I'll select the Perseus link on "blog failures" to narrow my scope. Implicit in the text (for example, "Those who abandoned blogs tended to write posts that were only 58% as long as the posts of those who still maintained blogs, which simply indicates that those who enjoy writing stick with blogs longer") is an assumption of a one to one relationship, blogs to bloggers. Since I abandon blogs at a ratio of 3 to 1, blogs created to blogs maintained, I know that this assumption is wrong. Hosted services particularly lead to experimentation and abandonment, but bloggers that abandon blogs do not necessarily abandon blogging.

In late 2001 I created 18 interlinked blogs on a free hosted service to demonstrate the potential of web logs as collaborative workgroup communication tools. These blogs comprised short test and demonstration posts and were abandoned within six weeks of creation.

I think it would be interesting to know how many bloggers there are, how they interlink to form communities of interest, and how this use of the Web is growing over time, but the Perseus study just doesn't show any of that. The raw numbers are interesting, but don't support any of the conclusions that I've seen drawn from them.

Posted by: Frank Paynter at October 19, 2003 3:04 PM | Permalink

I'm going to introduce my "new media journalism" students to this pair of articles... very well done!

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 19, 2003 5:25 PM | Permalink

From the Intro