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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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October 19, 2003

Easterbrook, Hollywood and the Jews

Jeff Sharlet, founder of Killing the Buddha, knows it when he sees it. And he saw it in what Gregg Easterbrook wrote.

Guest commentator in PressThink this week: Jeff Sharlet, a journalist who has covered religion and thought a lot about it.

He’s co-founder of Killing the Bhudda, the only site I know to take faith and unbelief equally seriously, and then do journalism about it. Sharlet has covered religion in the academy for the Chronicle of Higher Education. He will soon be rolling out a new web journal, of which I am publisher. (Watch this space for details.) He and Peter Manseau have a book coming out, Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible, from Free Press. It’s based on their tour around America.

Like a lot of writers and journalists I know, Jeff consumed the press about Gregg Easterbook and the retraction of his weblog, in his weblog (Easterblogg), due to charges of anti-semitism. Easterbrook, writing as part of the New Republic site, agreed that he mangled what he intended to say, and apologized for crossing the line. He did this by asking: is it right for Jewish executives to worship money above everything, naming Michael Eisner and Harvey Weinstein as two who ought to know. The New York times covered the retraction. Easterbrook got fired from his job at ESPN. Major incident. Strengthens the hand of Everyone Needs an Editor.

I will turn it over to Jeff in a moment. But first an observation. It’s possible one of the factors that got Easterbrook into trouble was a piece of tradecraft among writers— in this case, conventions of fairness. It goes like this… In an article where I am making strong charges of crappy conduct, how do I convince you I am being fair to the ones charged— and don’t just have it in for the Jews?

One way is to say, yes, I’m aware that the behavior in question is commonly seen in other groups. Because if I am willing to say that, then in the journalist’s mind the story has been given another side— for what the trade calls balance. It’s like a marker, that statement. It means: Some other time, I may write about Christian money grubbing— which I just told you exists. Right now, I am singling out Jews, but not because their case is singular, got it? Okay here goes:

Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence?

To Easterbrook—and to journalism itself— this is a conventional effort at being even handed. Thus, the opposite of group prejudice. But anti-semitisim is not a conventional subject and “fairness” cannot be handled that way. Easterbrook, a smart and experienced pro, knows this. Thus, Jonathan Alter’s defense of his friend and colleague: Gregg’s one problem is that he writes too fast. Leon Wieseltier of the New Republic: “Gregg typed his way into a wildly offensive formulation, into classic anti-Semitic code.”

I think Easterbrook did traffic in anti-semetic thinking, or veered into that lane while rushing somewhere else. I don’t think he should have lost his job at ESPN. He made a mistake, apologized in the same place he made it. That’s accounts clear. As long as the posts remain up, anyone can come by and judge the matter, if they wish to do that, or just reflect on it.

Here’s Sharlet with another view.

Easterbrook Had to Have Known What He Was Doing

by Jeff Sharlet
PressThink Guest Critic

New Republic’s Gregg Easterbrook says he’s sorry for blaming Kill Bill on the Jews, or rather the executives who released the film. “Disney’s CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish,” Easterbrook wrote in his original post, further down the blog. “[T]he chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish.” Easterbrook goes on to wonder whether it’s “right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence.” In his subsequent “apology,” Easterbrook explains that he came to his scoop about Weinstein’s and Eisner’s Jewishness by sheer chance. He was so disgusted with the new movie by Quentin Tarantino (nee Taranstein) that he “wondered” how good Christian-American execs could push such decadence on us.

Are we really to believe that Easterbrook had never heard of Eisner and Weinstein? That having unmasked these villains, he was shocked, absolutely shocked, to discover them to be Jews? In Hollywood, no less!

Easterbrook had to have known what he was doing. He knew who ran Disney, and he knew the man was a Jew. And he admits he knows what it means to say that Jews “worship money.” “Accuse a Jewish person of this and you invoke a thousand years of stereotypes,” he writes, adding that doing so is “wrong” – just like it is when those Jews go ahead and worship money anyway.

Easterbrook blames the mess on “poor wording,” as if there was a more eloquent way to wonder why Jewish executives worship money. Sure there is, Greg. Try “kike” next time. That’ll clear up the misunderstanding.

At no point does Easterbrook say that Eisner’s and Weinstein’s Jewishness has nothing to do with the quality of Kill Bill. What he does say is this: Nothing about Eisner or Weinstein causes any movie to be bad or awful; they’re just supervisors. In other words, Easterbrook has merely diluted his celluloid blood libel to the following: Eisner and Weinstein are off the hook for Kill Bill, but only because their supervisory roles mean that the question of whether or not they’re Jewish moneygrubbers (and nowhere does Easterbrook clearly retract that charge) is unrelated to the horrors of Tarantino’s gorestravaganza.

Easterbrook defends his arguments by suggesting that it’s appropriate to question the faith of executives who peddle violent movies. He’s right – but most good reporters would first ask what faith the executives practice. Eisner and Weinstein are Jewish, but that doesn’t mean they practice Judaism, anymore than as goyishe a name as Easterbrook proves its bearer worships Christ. As it happens, Easterbrook does (above money, even!), and at an unusual church which, he hopes, will provide him with cover: it’s also home to a Jewish congregation, with which Easterbrook’s fellow Presbyterians share finances.

Given how well Easterbrook knows the Jews (many, I suspect, are among his best friends), it comes as some surprise to scroll down his blog and come across this theologically peculiar defense of Mel Gibson’s Passion: “There stands no reason the Anti-Defamation League couldn’t make its own Jesus movie, in which, say, righteous Jews work behind the scenes attempting to save Christ from the cross.” Now there’s a positive view of Jews: We just want to help Christ! And we’re pissed off at Gibson because we really want our own Jesus movie!

Easterbrook writes that reporters have been calling all day asking him his faith. Not one reporter thought to ask first whether Easterbrook had any? Easterbrook offers good advice in arguing for faith’s relevance in reporting the news and in cultural commentary. I’d add that faith’s absence is every bit as meaningful, and not necessarily a sign of mammon, idol worship, and other naughty, unchristian behavior. I call that kind of thing bad faith, and Easterbrook’s slippery apology is a prime example.

Read the Easterbrook column that began the incident: “Is Quentin Tarantino the single greatest phony in the history of Hollywood?”

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit shows why so many consult his weblog. He has strong views, many good links, plus updates.

Andrew Sullivan: Easterbrook is now being slimed.

Jeff Jarvis has a lot more.

Posted by Jay Rosen at October 19, 2003 10:44 PM   Print


I'm waiting for the Buddhist bashing myself. I feel left out.

Posted by: Taran at October 19, 2003 11:16 PM | Permalink

The fact is that Tarantino is a phoney and Easterbrook is right.

Posted by: Caliph at October 23, 2003 5:26 PM | Permalink

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