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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 29, 2003

Case Closed: Siegal Report Online Again

This note from a Times VP came Wednesday afternoon, in response to this.

UPDATE, OCT. 29, 4:40 pm. The link to the Siegal report now works again. I got this note:

We are in the process of re-establishing the links to the Siegal Committee Report. We removed the report to keep the site current but are happy to put it back up if people find it useful.


Catherine Mathis
VP, Corporate Communications
The New York Times Company

Many thanks, Ms. Mathis. I am sure many people will find it useful. Go read it.

(Note to readers: This is material I had originally posted about the missing link to the Siegal report. I removed it from the big post commenting in detail about the report because it’s moot— now that the link is back. — JR)

[Original title:]

The Siegal Report, a Triumph of Self Refection at the Times, Becomes the Case of the Missing Link.
My suggestion to Daniel Okrent, the new Public Editor at the New York Times, is to solve the case of the missing link.

I posted a little letter about it at Romenesko last week. And I commend the case to Okrent for his first investigation. For the very document that created his position and gave it a fine charter, The Siegal Report, has gone missing from the Web. Why?

That’s why I wrote to Romenesko’s Letters page, and he ran it. You see, the Siegal Report used to be online, in pdf form. It was there in late July and through the summer at the Times Company’s corporate site, here.

Now every link I have found is busted, and the search turns up zip. Copies of the report are “around,” however; and after my letter ran, asking WHY NO LINK? several copies were sent to me (thanks, senders) but no one sent me a url that’s good. I had a copy of the report already, heavily marked up. But my job is to write about the thing here, on the World Wide Web, and get people out there to read the original in full, so as to check my claims against their own study of it. That’s why the case matters to me. The missing link is making the Siegal report, which was made public July 30, 2003, much less public today. Is that the right direction?

This, despite a passage in Bill Keller’s introductory note, from the day it became news: “The Siegal Report, which we are releasing in full to the staff and public…” Why was the plug pulled? When I discovered it was gone, I didn’t know. Maybe there’s a story in it, I thought. Could be some web assistant hit the wrong button, right? I asked Len Apcar, head of the Times site and a nice person, what he knew. He said he would try to find out and get back to me. And he did, just before I hit the button to post this:

Jay: The report came down in the interest of keeping the corporate site fresh, according to Toby Usnik, a spokesman for the company. Toby said: “We removed it just a few weeks ago in the interest of keeping site content current. We continue to provide copies immediately when asked although that’s only happened twice since we removed it.”

Well, there you are Daniel Okrent— appointed yesterday. This Times reader respectfully suggests that you look into the case of the missing link. For it cannot be in the interest of the public or the Times or Mr. Okrent himself that this report remain offline. My predicition is they will come to their senses and it will be back up soon. I also predict that when it has a url again, more than the two people will request to have a look.

Posted by Jay Rosen at October 29, 2003 4:57 PM   Print


Not to be a scold or anything, but I suggest a future post devoted to "blogthink," which assigns sinister motives to any unanswered question.

Posted by: tom mangan at October 29, 2003 9:21 PM | Permalink

Tom: You can scold if need be. Maybe I didn't write it as carefully as I thought I did, but what I thought I was suggesting with the "case of the missing link" was not a conspiracy at the Times or a sinister plot to make the Siegal report go away, but a certain cluelessness about the online universe and how people get information these days. And I thought I was declining to speculate about "motives." But as I said, maybe I didn't read my own writing carefully enough.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 30, 2003 11:17 AM | Permalink

Jay: My bad on this one...I was tarring you with the brush of all the other bloggers (myself included) who have these connect-the-dot tendencies. This is one of those cases in which something seems foolish only in retrospect ... now that a few notes have been exchanged and the desired data made available, it seems like the fuss was out of all proportion to the offense. But as long as the Times dawdled, it was easy to assume evil at worst, incompetence at best.

Posted by: tom mangan at October 31, 2003 1:28 AM | Permalink

You are right. It was easy to assume one thing or another, and "fuss out of proportion to offense" seems on the mark. I told you what I thought I was doing: declining to speculate. But maybe when a writer lays out the dots, it's assumed that he's saying to readers: connect them, eh? Which is a kind of conspiracy-inflected device. Maybe it's harder than it looks to stay away from all that.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at November 1, 2003 4:34 PM | Permalink

You are right. It was easy to assume one thing or another, and "fuss out of proportion to offense" seems on the mark. I told you what I thought I was doing: declining to speculate. But maybe when a writer lays out the dots, it's assumed that he's saying to readers: connect them, eh? Which is a kind of conspiracy-inflected device. Maybe it's harder than it looks to stay away from all that.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at November 1, 2003 4:34 PM | Permalink

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