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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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July 29, 2004

"There is an Orthodoxy to Our Thinking." Thomas B. Edsall of the Washington Post on How Blogs Can Enliven Journalism

"I spend the first thing in the morning and also before I go to bed sort of scanning the blogs, and in all honesty I read Wonkette because I find it amusing." Five minutes from the Washington Post's political writer Thomas B. Edsall, speaking from the convention on why political weblogs count for him as a journalist, and what they are good at-- busting up group think in the newsroom. "Pretend journalists?" Edsall doesn't think so.

BOSTON, July 29: Around 4 pm on Monday of convention week, when I finally got myself equipped and online, I opened my e-mail and found this note sent to me by professor Thomas L. McPhail of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Jay: Do you tell your j students that they are wasting their time getting a j degree, rather they should just run out and become bloogers and pretend journalists with no commitment to ethics, laws, fairness etc. Tom McPhail ps how are the bloogers at the DNC? I am afraid that in the charge to get the scoop of the conference, that they may send out unedited or unchecked rumours as if it/they were fact. Thanks

That’s not the kind of note you edit or change in any way, and I haven’t touched it. Now this is the same professor Thomas L. McPhail of the University of Missouri-St. Louis who wound up in dueling quotes with your correpondent (me) in the text of a USA Today article some weeks ago, previewing bloggers at the convention. (It also made Romenesko, the daily bulletin board for journalists.) Here’s his quote:

That bloggers get front seats bothers Tom McPhail, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri: ”They’re certainly not committed to being objective. They thrive on rumor and innuendo,” McPhail says. Bloggers ”should be put in a different category, like ‘pretend’ journalists.”

It didn’t seem right not to reply to Professor McPhail, who is, after all, a professional colleague. But what to say?

On day three of the Democratic National Convention, I went over to the Washington Post’s tent to interview political reporter Thomas Edsall about a wide range of subjects, all pivoting off the convention and some of the ideas in my prior posts. (Day One, Day Two)

The interview runs 42 minutes and it covers a lot of ground. My plan is to edit it down to five minute sections on topical themes, and offer it in parts over the next few days (weeks.)

Who is Thomas B. Edsall? One of my favorite journalists. A writer for The Washington Post who regularly reports on national politics, taxes, and campaign finances. Been reporting on politics and government for 35 years. From an online bio:

Prior to joining the Washington Post in 1981, Mr. Edsall was a reporter at the Providence Journal Bulletin and the Baltimore Sun. Mr. Edsall is the author of two books, The New Politics of Inequality and Power and Money. He is the co-editor of The Reagan Legacy: A Nation Adrift and has contributed to numerous other edited works, including Deadlock: The Inside Story of America¹s Closest Election. With his wife Mary, he is co-author of Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights and Taxes on American Politics. Chain Reaction was a Nominated Finalist for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in the category General Non-Fiction. In addition to his work at the Post, Mr. Edsall has written regularly for such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, The American Prospect and The Washington Monthly.

So that’s who he is. Now here he is in the Post during convention week:

For Lobbyists, Big Spending Means Big Presence
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, July 28, 2004; Page A01

BOSTON, July 27 — Lobbyists Tony and Heather Podesta are working the crowd at a reception in an art museum for big donors to House Democrats….

McAuliffe Is Dems’ Comeback Kid
DNC Chair Fought for Stability, Financial Strength
By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 26, 2004; Page A22

BOSTON, July 25 — On Monday night, Terence R. McAuliffe’s party will hail him as a hero, the first Democratic chairman in decades to put the party on secure financial footing…

Among the many things he and I touched on was the bloggers. Edsall brought up the subject (I didn’t) because he reads blogs daily, once in the morning and at night, he said. (Edsall was a key player in the Trent Lott downed-by-weblogs story. For the background see this.)

By way of reply to Tom McPhail and his note about “bloogers” (sic) I offer five minutes of my conversation with the Washington Post’s Tom Edsall— on why political weblogs count for him as a journalist, and what their advantages are:

Click here for audio: Thomas Edsall of the Washington Post on the blogs and why they matter. (interview with Jay Rosen, July 28, 2004)

One highlight:

JR: One reason the blogs might be able to do that is that they are an antidote to group think within the journalism profession itself. Even though you have a lot of arguments about what’s news, and you have smart people who know a lot, there still are certain ways that journalists think [in] the same fashion. And the Trent Lott piece is a good example.

The kid who got the story originally asked more senior people, is there anything to this? “Nah, there’s nothing to this.” And so the blogs may have an enlivening effect on journalism because they’re not just another pair of eyes, they’re people interested in the same things as journalists who don’t think the same way. Possible?

Thomas Edsall: I think absolutely. We in journalism— there’s an orthodoxy to our thinking. You can come up with an idea and you know it’s sort of verbotten, or they’re gonna say, “oh, that’s only worth ten inches,” and they’re gonna put you inside the paper. It’s not worth the fight.

The blogs can sort of break the ice and make it clear that there is something pretty strange or pretty unique or pretty interesting or pretty awful about something that, given our way of looking at things— which tends to be very straight line: is it illegal, is it this, will somebody criticize it? That kind of stuff.

They have the potential and actually do open a lot of doors. There’s a lot of junk, but there’s an awful lot of good stuff too.

Listen to the rest. (MP3 format, 5:03 in length.)

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links….

This just in… Today I struck a handshake deal to blog the Republican Convention in New York for Knight-Ridder, so I’ll be going. Of course, PressThink will benefit too.

Posted by Jay Rosen at July 29, 2004 10:24 AM   Print


Jay, serious question:

If we said "Many bloggers are Op-Ed columnists", (which is true) would that molify some of the institutional journalist objections?

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at July 29, 2004 11:35 AM | Permalink

This is a great interview and I look forward to hearing more snippets. Interesting controversy over Matt Stoller and the convention.

I'm trying to triangulate the thoughts of Rod O'Connor in making the messages more media manageable (many-to-many messages, mediums and markets), with the truth-testing tendencies in orthodox PressThink (Edsall v. Mears) and new Journalism's communicative blogging. Much to mull.

Posted by: Tim at July 29, 2004 11:46 AM | Permalink

I'm sure a lot of journalists who are working at the convention will be interested that Mr. Edsall spent 45 minutes talking to you. He must not have enough to do.

Posted by: Dexter Westbrook at July 29, 2004 12:45 PM | Permalink

Along the idea of 'truth-testing,' the view from out here in the readership/viewer ship is one of whole-cloth fabrications being taken as gospel - well not gospel that would be religious - but at least prima facie truth.

Is there any attempt, in traditional, editorial, or blogging forms of reporting / journalism to test the veracity of the hundreds of assertions that are being made?

Or is this all some big exercise in group think so that the 15000 media all have the story straight before returning to their home beats?

Posted by: John Lynch at July 29, 2004 1:06 PM | Permalink

Following up on my previous post.

How quickly would a given journalist be made to feel uncomfortable and unwanted in this great crowd of delegates and journalists if he/she were to cross (as in cross examination) an interviewee?

I'm not talking softball questions, but real challenges to some of the assertions. Is the game up there one of tribalism? Is there a feeling of "I'd be ostracized if I asked that”? Is there a sense of "everyone else acts as if that is the truth, so I'll not question it either”?

Posted by: John Lynch at July 29, 2004 1:55 PM | Permalink

There was a brief (5 min?) interview on Nightline last night, where Ted Koppel spoke with Jon Stewart about the media coverage. I wouldn't say it was confrontational, but there was a definite hint of... well maybe "staid status quo" vs. "young, street-cred upstart". Koppel even asked about the issues of connection with viewers, credibility, etc. Of course it's material worthy of a long discussion and this was 5 min, so it's a bit shallow in the end.

Maybe it's on the ABC site, I couldn't find it. It was nice to see someone with a good sense of the general distrust/disdain/inanity of most media coverage talk about it with a well-known media icon. I was almost shocked it ran on Nightline at all. Of course the Daily Show thrives on the "quality" of most news coverage, so it's a bit of a symbiotic relationship I suppose.

Posted by: TG at July 29, 2004 2:53 PM | Permalink

Found it. Alas, it's now paid content. If anyone has the ABC News On Demand account or whatever it is you can watch it here:

Right column on this page.

For some reason I looked for a Nightline clip in the Nightline section of the site. Silly me.

Maybe there's a clip floating around online somewhere.

Posted by: TG at July 29, 2004 2:58 PM | Permalink

Lost Remote has a partial transcript of the Koppel-Stewart interview.

For what it's worth, I got a sense that Koppel takes Stewart and his role in the news chain more seriously that does Stewart.

Posted by: Staci K. at July 29, 2004 4:56 PM | Permalink

I agree - Koppel almost seemed to be trying to extract a secret recipe from Stewart.

Stewart himself seems to lean more to the 'celebrating the absurd' of the state of the media, or at least have no pretensions about improving or changing it. I guess beyond his show (which he repeatedly emphasizes is NOT a news program).

Posted by: TG at July 29, 2004 6:40 PM | Permalink

John said:

"How quickly would a given journalist be made to feel uncomfortable and unwanted in this great crowd of delegates and journalists if he/she were to cross (as in cross examination) an interviewee?"

For the last 30+ years I've often seen reporters/ journalists ask the rudest and predictable questions at Presidential News Conferences.

The last Presidential News Conference was the most rude experience I've witnessed by journalists at such events. A new low in polite behavior by news media professionals. Maybe Dick Cheney should have been there to respond from the side to some of those rude reporter questions. He's know to tell it like it is to rude Senators.

That's when I decided I want see a lottery from across the nation to select journalists by random to attend and ask questions at Presidential News Conferences. That would be a better cross-section of reporters and journalists in my opinion than the Washington elitists could ever assemble.

As for me, "Shove it!" sees to be in vogue to say to reporters that cross the line.


Posted by: Donald Larson at July 29, 2004 7:39 PM | Permalink

Jay: If you get a chance, Glenn has some great, and related, posts.

Two teasers: Drezner's latest meta-blogging and OJR ("But the mainstream media didn't just write about those bloggers -- they launched their own high-profile blogging efforts while poaching talent from the blogosphere.")

In the name of transparency, can you tell us how many parties our correspondant attended or observed others attending?

Posted by: Tim at July 29, 2004 8:45 PM | Permalink

That's great, Jay. Knight Ridder has been demonstrating a lot of leading journalism lately and you'll be another asset in their ranks.

Just remember to abstain from everything while at the RNC so you don't catch anything fun. ;^)

Posted by: Kevin Hayden at July 30, 2004 1:47 AM | Permalink

Note: History Was Made Here -- and you were there.

This day saw the introduction of the word "blooger" into the lexicon.

Bookmark the page. Blooger will join fisking. Now all we have to do is define it.

Posted by: sbw at July 30, 2004 10:40 AM | Permalink

McPhail has provided yet another unbelievably stupid & clueless comment about blogging. There are so many out there. The e mail from him is priceless and so much dumber than his quote in NYT.

I have my own take on McPhail at

Posted by: Richard Silverstein at August 1, 2004 1:48 AM | Permalink

All the news that's fit to blog


"I'm not sure I've been able to get any real sense of what this convention is for," he wrote in a posting on Tuesday, the second day of the proceedings. "This is not a national town-hall meeting; it's more akin to a televised debutante ball.

"I'm afraid that politics here in America is so abstracted from reality that it is, in fact, impossible to understand on a level other than the superficial."

(H/T: Dan Gillmor)

Posted by: Tim at August 3, 2004 8:57 PM | Permalink

Great site. I really found a lot of interesting and good information on your site. You could surely be one of the best sometime in the future.

Posted by: jonny at August 10, 2004 4:45 AM | Permalink

The blog busters: "The sites that started as observational home pages for enthusiasts have become so powerful that they are starting a new industry of blog monitoring in which media companies scour the net to advise brands on how their name is being talked about online, away from the traditional newspaper and broadcast media sites."

Posted by: Tim at August 10, 2004 4:17 PM | Permalink

From the Intro