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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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December 22, 2003

Politically Significant Cluelessness

Frank Rich sent a "get a clue" letter to colleagues, members of a tone deaf political class. They don't get Dean. Or the Net. And they don't know what year it is out there.

Frank Rich wrote effectively this week on a culture of cluelessness in Washington. Ignorance of what’s happening with the Internet, and thus the movement for Howard Dean, is a kind of emergent force in itself— active in political events, according to Rich. (This is a subject I have explored here and here.)

He charges that shifting coterie—the Washington establishment—with being condescending and simple-minded about the Net, unable to get a fix on Dean and what’s happening around the candidate, even though the information is available. That includes reporters, pundits, other candidates, party insiders.

Rich wants to switch historical comparison points, from figures positioned like Dean ideologically (McGovern and Goldwater, according to common analysis in the press) to figures poised to make the leap Dean is making with technology.

Rather than compare Dr. Dean to McGovern or Goldwater, it may make more sense to recall Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy. It was not until F.D.R.’s fireside chats on radio in 1933 that a medium in mass use for years became a political force. J.F.K. did the same for television, not only by vanquishing the camera-challenged Richard Nixon during the 1960 debates but by replacing the Eisenhower White House’s prerecorded TV news conferences (which could be cleaned up with editing) with live broadcasts. Until Kennedy proved otherwise, most of Washington’s wise men thought, as The New York Times columnist James Reston wrote in 1961, that a spontaneous televised press conference was “the goofiest idea since the Hula Hoop.”

And, continuing the pattern, “such has been much of the reaction to the Dean campaign’s breakthrough use of its chosen medium.” Clueless. What does Rich want to tell us about this state? First, it takes the form of cultural backwardness. The Washington press corps—along with those it interviews most—are an elite lagging in Net time:

In Washington, the Internet is still seen mainly as a high-velocity disseminator of gossip (Drudge) and rabidly partisan sharpshooting by self-publishing excoriators of the left and right. When used by campaigns, the Internet becomes a synonym for “the young,” “geeks,” “small contributors” and “upper middle class,” as if it were an eccentric electronic cousin to direct-mail fund-raising run by the acne-prone members of a suburban high school’s computer club

Second, the cluelessness is tonal, a hearing and speech problem, which causes journalists to dismiss what they have not struggled to understand, and then to advertise that lack of effort. Here things become comic.

The condescending reaction to the Dean insurgency by television’s political correspondents can be reminiscent of that hilarious party scene in the movie “Singin’ in the Rain,” where Hollywood’s silent-era elite greets the advent of talkies with dismissive bafflement. “The Internet has yet to mature as a political tool,” intoned Carl Cameron of Fox News last summer as he reported that the runner-up group to Dean supporters on the site was witches.

Third, it is unable to locate change in the very field political journalism is given to understand. Reporters and pundits know the Net is supposed to be a big deal in 2004. To huge portions of the press that still means “websites”— primarily for broadcasting the message and raising money.

But the big Dean innovation is to empower passionate supporters to leave their computer screens entirely to hunt down unwired supporters as well and to gather together in real time at face-to-face meetings they organize on their own with no help from (or cost to) the campaign hierarchy

Fourth, the press and the insiders who run campaigns are over-confident in their ways of knowing. Most especially, the poll. Rich brings on Steven Johnson (a pretty good explainer) to explain:

The underlying principles of the Dean Internet campaign “are the opposite of a poll,” Mr. Johnson says. Much as thousands of connected techies perfected the Linux operating system’s code through open collaboration, so Dean online followers collaborate on organizing and perfecting the campaign, their ideas trickling up from the bottom rather than being superimposed from national headquarters. (Or at least their campaign ideas trickle up; policy is still concentrated at the top.) It’s almost as if Dr. Dean is “a system running for president,” in Mr. Johnson’s view, as opposed to a person.

A system running for president. Makes you think, right?

Rich offers a simple fact to shame the press establishment: “Unlike Al Gore, Dr. Dean doesn’t aspire to be hip about computers.” This means he started with no advantage over journalists. Yet he was able to grasp something inchoate but powerful out there, and move his campaign toward it. Dean made himself Net literate enough to understand (and encourage) what’s going on. He got smart people to explain it to him, and went from there. And any reporter could have done that.

Before it’s too late, Rich advises, get Steven Johnson’s 2001 book, Emergence— “essential reading for anyone seeking to understand this culture.” He knows not many in the Washington press even know about Johnson or that book— or why they should care. And he thinks that is shameful. For there is a big story gathering. We as nation ought to understand it whole. Political journalists should be leading the way. The story: Asymetrical warfare comes home in the form of campaign 2004.

Should Dr. Dean actually end up running against President Bush next year, an utterly asymmetrical battle will be joined. The Bush-Cheney machine is a centralized hierarchy reflecting its pre-digital C.E.O. ethos (and the political training of Karl Rove); it is accustomed to broadcasting to voters from on high rather than drawing most of its grass-roots power from what bubbles up from insurgents below.

I asked Mary Hodder of UC Berkeley, who has started a new blog on the napsterization of everything, what she knew about patterns in cluelessness. One of her explanations involved providers of a service that, once upon a time, people could not easily get elsewhere or create on their own. When that starts shifting because of dramatically lower information costs, the traditional suppliers are often the last to know. After all, they’re still offering the same “essential” service at the same quality.

“It’s a combination of denial, refusing to see that the costs have changed for those they provide services for or rely on to vote for them, and in the case of the internet, totally misunderstanding the properties and values of information and digital media,” Hodder told me.

In closing his column, Frank Rich supplies a fact: “Today the record business is in meltdown, and more Americans use file-sharing software than voted for Mr. Bush in the last presidential election.” (In other words: What if they had a candidate?) This is intended to spark what he finds most lacking in the political class— a specifically cultural imagination.

Long before he became chairman of Fox News Channel, Roger Ailes had sketched the limited horizon of campaign journalism: “There are four things the media are interested in,” he said back in 1988. “They’re interested in polls, they’re interested in pictures, they’re interested in mistakes, and they’re interested in attacks.” I would add some items to that list: money-raising, dissaray and infighting within a given campaign, the so-called “character” issue (and the revelations that may or may not illuminate it), the role of key advisers and consultants, the art of positioning the candidate— and of course, any possible plot turn in the horse race. That’s ten story lines, but only one narrative. (And here’s nine alternatives.)

According to Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, the national press is busy jamming the race into its usual story frame of who’s-gonna-win, which gets very dull if one candidate has already won. So the search is on for the Leading Challenger, a figure required by another figure, the Front Runner. Here is Kurtz on a current trend in press coverage: (See Dec. 22 entry)

What’s happening here is that journalists are trying to dope out the next turn in the presidential race. Indeed, they’re hoping there will be another turn in the presidential race, since all those Dean’s-running-away-with-it stories are getting a bit old. There’s starting to be a hunger for a Credible Alternative so reporters can get what they want for Christmas: a two-man race.

Credible Alternative: is that someone the press finds or something the press makes? The argument for “makes” would take note of how certain rituals enacted by the press become tests of the candidate’s fitness for office. “At the moment,” says Kurtz, “no other candidate [but Dean] is getting the kind of proctological exam about their past and current positions that the media inflict on candidates they believe might win the nomination.”

In his 1990 book about presidential campaigns, (See How They Run) Paul Taylor, then a political correspondent for the Washington Post, talked openly about the press as one key actor in “the pageant of democracy.” Taylor knew from experience. He was the one who in 1988 asked Gary Hart whether Hart had committed adultery, a moment of fateful expansion in the “open up, candidate” exam Kurtz is stiill writing about today.

Taylor told stories explaining how the press had played the role of sorter for the public— which means in place of. In 1988, for example, one reason journalists were so obsessed with character questions was the large number of candidates competing for press attention. He writes:

Somebody had to prune the field, to “get rid of the funny ones,” as one 1988 campaign manager put it. There were too many choices, too much information to present, and “the culture was too apolitical” to sustain interest in such a large number of candidates. With the party bosses out of the equation, there was a huge vacuum at the front end of the process. Who would screen the field? The assignment fell to the press — there was no one else.

If it’s true the press plays a vetting role in the campaign, then it must be true that the press is a player. Or to put it another way, political journalists have come to understand themselves as supplier of a service—vetting the field—that the body politic cannot handle itself, because of high information costs and low motivation to bear them. “Too many choices, too much information to present.”

But what happens when these costs shift, and new motivations spring up? Suddenly the supplier may be supplying something that people can make for themselves, or no longer want from that source— like, say, political proctology via the pens of Washington journalists. We know this show is still running because Ted Koppel decided to administer the exam in a recent candidate’s debate in New Hampshire. Part of his method involved setting off confrontations with Dean. This is Kurtz on Koppel:

That two-hour meeting virtually ensured that the nine-candidate face-off here Tuesday night would be not only about Dean but about Koppel, and the approach would prove highly controversial. But the Koppel team was convinced the other candidates would take the cue to confront Dean, and that, they hoped, could produce some televised fireworks.

“They’re all being dominated by a formerly invisible governor from Vermont who must know something they don’t,” Koppel said of the other candidates after the debate. “Why is that?” Well, this elusive something the examiner might undertake to explain himself, if he knows, and then get the candidate’s reactions. Instead, Koppel chose to ask some of Dean’s rivals: why are you such a loser?

There, I think, was a case of the press supplying something for which there is no genuine demand.

Frank Rich, “Napster Runs for President in ‘04,” New York Times, Dec. 21, 2003.

Howard Kurtz, “Anchor Provocateur,” Washington Post, Dec. 10, 2003.

Wired magazine’s Garry Wolf, “How the Internet Invented Howard Dean.” Good overview.

Chris Lydon interviewing Dick Morris at BOP News: (Listen here.)
Lydon: Where in the media , Dick, to find useful information on this rather transformed game of American campaign politics?
Morris: I don’t from the media. I think they are very far behind it. But the Internet era is here to stay for a looooooong time.

PressThink: Nine Story Lines in a New Campaign Narrative.

Kurtz has started blogging in a serious way, extending himself beyond the printed Washington Post.

Jeff Jarvis points to Editor and Publisher’s round up summary of weblogs: “Blah, blah, Blogs: Probably the most hyped online development in 2003 (along with growth in site registration), but will these self-important online journals actually change the way newspapers do journalism on the Web?” A quote that could have appeared in Frank Rich’s article.

Posted by Jay Rosen at December 22, 2003 11:47 PM   Print


Well, I've been to Dean parties and the Denver Bicycle Touring Club meetings. Pretty much the same people. Lots of people like to bike, not enough to get elected president.

I thought Goldwater was the guy when I was young. "Nobody asked me". lol. The people at those meetings are even dumber than Dean.

Posted by: ralph leonard at December 23, 2003 12:08 PM | Permalink

Frank Rich speaks to what an enormous number of Americans have knwon for some time. The "mainstream" press is nothing but a pack of whores -- bought and paid for by the status quo. They are the very definition of an elite -- both economically and socially. That's why it was so easy for them to join the Anti-Clinton jihaad -- as a memorable op-ed in the Washington Post by Sally Quinn back at the start of Monicagate made clear. Unspeakably smug and assurred of their power, they were consequently astonished that the masses didn't follow their cue and join in the 10 Minute "Hates" of Clinton that ran on the networks and cable news outlets every hour on the hour. Its for this same reason that Ted Koppel expresses surprise that the audience that came to hear what the Democratic candidates had to say about how to run the country had no interest in his insultingly stupid "questions" and high school drama class showboating.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at December 23, 2003 3:55 PM | Permalink

Frank Rich: "Much as thousands of connected techies perfected the Linux operating system's code through open collaboration, so Dean online followers collaborate on organizing and perfecting the campaign, their ideas trickling up from the bottom rather than being superimposed from national headquarters. (Or at least their campaign ideas trickle up; policy is still concentrated at the top.) It's almost as if Dr. Dean is 'a system running for president,' in Mr. Johnson's view, as opposed to a person."

Maybe that's an accurate description, but it would be more convincing if Rich gave examples of consequential ideas that "trickled up from the bottom." Also, you describe Johnson as "a pretty good explainer," but is the process he describes really "the opposite of a poll"? If anything, it sounds like a poll-driven process carried to its logical conclusion: instead of merely changing campaign tactics to match the views voters express in polls, the Dean campaign gives those voters some direct control.

Let's assume Rich and Johnson are right about the "system." Even by their (or at least Rich's) account, the "system" comprises only the PR aspect of Dean's campaign/candidacy, leaving out policy. In other words, the "system" isn't running for president. Dean is running, but a surprisingly self-directed "system" of supporters is helping to sell Dean's candidacy to the rest of the electorate.

You approvingly quote Joan Didion's complaint about the media's skewed fixation on the horse race aspect of politics, but isn't that precisely what you and Rich focus on in your discussion of Dean? It's all about Dean's use of novel, highly effective campaign techniques that give him an edge over competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"The rise of Howard Dean" as you describe it isn't really a story about "'the democratic process,' or the general mechanism affording the citizens of a state a voice in its affairs." It's a story about "The Marketing of a President".


- Dideon quote:
- Ed Cone, "The Marketing of the President":,3959,1386982,00.asp

Posted by: Michael at December 23, 2003 6:58 PM | Permalink

It should be noted that Rich makes a major mistake that is directly related to his topic. Rich repeats the old canard that Dean flubbed a question on Meet the Press regarding troop strength in Iraq. Unfortunately for Rich, Dean actually pegged the correct number within a couple of thousand, while the host of Meet the Press was wildly off the mark. People who have some familiarity with the internet have the ability to check facts that one shot print and television media dont have to contend with. This explains how, the original anti-Dean script was debunked on the internet, the print and television media insist on repeating the incorrect version. Rich noted that Dean saw an upsurge in internet donations right after his Meet the Press appearance, but doesnt explain why. I think this explains it perfectly - it wasnt a reaction to the appearance so much as it was a reaction to the obvious hostility the non-online press had for Dean.

Posted by: borodin at December 24, 2003 8:20 PM | Permalink

I agree with Michael that Frank Rich, to be more convincing, should have given examples "of consequential ideas that 'trickled up from the bottom.'"

I know of at least one:

The idea of sending personal, hand-written letters from supporters promoting their candidate to targeted Dem voters in IA and NH (and soon SC) began at a local Meetup in San Francisco. The campaign has embraced this idea enthusiastically. After each letter-writing push, Dr. Dean sees a rise in poll numbers in the targeted state.
(Dean's recent rise over Gephardt in Iowa is attributed,in part,to a letter-writing campaign.)

Several slogans which originated locally have been adopted by the campaign, and I believe that the house parties held to introduce neophytes to Dr. Dean and to raise funds was an idea originating with the supporters.

Posted by: John, Oakland at December 24, 2003 11:41 PM | Permalink

Goldwater, Goldwater, Goldwater... That's all I hear from the mainstream press. I agree that the national press would not know a political sea change if it bit them in rear. The information age is about processing all the many available data points and quickly. We in the Net generation do that much better that the press. Everybody knows that if you want to arrive at anything near the truth you have to look at it from all angles (read press outlits) including ones you don't like or you're just asking to get blindsided. They all are still trying to invent the wheel and then package it for their particular audience. The part they don't get is that the audience knows what they want and where to get it. We don't need that pre-packaged jello mold news anymore. We want the facts and then we arrange them how we want. If you are as "incurious" as the current administration is you'll not see it coming until you're hip deep in it. Just ask the RIAA.

Posted by: James Thomas at December 25, 2003 12:13 AM | Permalink

You quoted Frank Rich as saying:

The condescending reaction to the Dean insurgency by television's political correspondents can be reminiscent of that hilarious party scene in the movie "Singin' in the Rain," where Hollywood's silent- era elite greets the advent of talkies with dismissive bafflement. "The Internet has yet to mature as a political tool," intoned Carl Cameron of Fox News last summer as he reported that the runner-up group to Dean supporters on the site was witches.

Well, I'm not sure you'd meet any really serious witches through

Any more than you'd met really serious open-source programmers that way.

It's a telling quote, displaying so many aspects of ignorance at once, including an ignorance of significant cultural currents in the programming community. More on that, further on.

But it's odd that Mr. Cameron from Fox apparently fails to notice the statistical numbers involved. If one assumes that is the only route being used, the numbers involved from a politician's old-style point of view really are insignificant.

But he went on to ridicule the Deanites as if they're just another totally insignificant minority group who wear funny clothes and get together for obscure rites involving shy people mumbling, improbable symbolic objects, and questionable potluck salads.

I find this major media spokesman's view of "tiny unprotected minorities" so reassuring, don't you Gee, and people really do claim media bias is dead.

I also think a hard-nosed reporter could get some numbers to argue whether the numbers are significant or not.

I'm far from being a meeting geek, and I can think of at least six other major website methods that people routinely use to set up parties and meetings. Folks go through a multitude of tv, food or book- selling sites. The surprise is that so many folks were using *one* site, actually.

For *one* site to get such big numbers means lots more Dean people and witches are out there using other methods to get together to party.

I don't know how you'd go about sampling various methods with statistical significance, but I wonder if any of the poll people already have those numbers.

For one thing, unlike Mr. Cameron, I really wouldn't dismiss the witches as a ridicule-inducing tiny minority group that nobody will ever defend in Congress or the courts. For one thing, they're only one fraction of a larger and noisier group of folks who call themselves pagans.

From the quote given, I'm unsure whether Mr. Cameron would understand the distinction. Of course, small groups like to observe peculiar rituals to distinguish themselves from other very similar small groups, and I freely admit that I don't recognize similarly fine distinctions I am told are observed among various white supremacy groups under study by folks like the Southern Poverty Law Center, or gang tattoos in major cities.

If either of those issues arose in my own life or work, there probably wouldn't be enough time for research, but I do have a few ideas where to start doing my homework. First, probably, on weblogs similar to this one, or on live journal, where you get quick access to folks wiht a huge range of real world expertise. The files of the NY Times won't come close to my first research choice. Neither is the Fox news channel.

What Mr. Cameron probably hasn't noticed among the younger whiz kids working at his network is that there's a lot of pagan jewelry just as horribly garish as anything the Christians ever came up with.

It does seem odd that he wouldn't notice the demographic numbers in the support for occult-themed tv shows.

Maybe nobody wants to bring this to the attention of the rabid Christians, but there's a serious overlap between programmers, like Dean's open source people, and the pagan community.
A disproportionate number of pagans and witches work on the rough developing edges of the programming community. It's been a Wild West edge that cares about solutions, not about religion, politics, appearance, or totally whacked t-shirts. Pictures of folks in Wired magazine, for instance, may be one place to notice that a *great* many programmers are practicing pagans. The quotes on t- shirts, the jewelry and body art are very distinctive, very in-your-face, and if you mean to ask them favors, you better understand what arcana you're looking at. You wouldn't walk into an LA Chicano gang with an insulting attitude like that.

Such folks also have good reason to become politically active when they are convinced that the right wing is actively merging certain forms of church (but not others) with the state.

Just wondering if laughing at witches who also do open source code is really a *wise* idea for any network mogul with that many network servers. Just a thought...

Posted by: Heather Gladney at December 26, 2003 10:50 PM | Permalink

Frank Rich still doesn't get it. Like all the other "journalists" covering candidates, he is still sticking to the "bash Gore at every opportunity, no matter how gratuitious" script that informed the 2000 campaign. Bush/Cheney, of course, are the "CEOs", because, like every other reporter, "it's the script, stupid" that serves for political reporting from our vaunted press corp. Rich doesn't "get" the internet, to Rich it's just another filter reporters have to keep their eye on in order to add new colour to their boring scripts.

Posted by: BevD at December 27, 2003 11:26 AM | Permalink

There's an amusing, and recurring scene in the movie Jefforson In Paris where the nobles carry on anecdotal banter about various political issues and through the window, out in the streets, we see mobs of peasants storming by in a violent frenzie.

The comedy arises from the fact that we know something the nobles do not: that soon that mob would be a revolution and that the fleeting acknowledgement of what was happening just beyond their doorsteps would eventually facilitate the noble's demise.

The Beltway insiders, from the press to the pols, are indeed an elite class, sheltered from the mob, too long in control of the conversation, and not grasping that the mob has just acquired its very own microphone.

The big losers won't necessarily be good hard working journalist, but editors and producers who for too long have had too much power in shaping what is news.

On the internet, every story is a front page story to someone. And the more the producers and editors try to control what is deemed relevant, the faster they will facilitate their own irrelevance.

Posted by: Tocque Deville at December 27, 2003 2:34 PM | Permalink

From the Intro