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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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August 27, 2004

From a Small Circular Stage in a Sea of Thousands

Today's announcement had ideas in it. Bush will speak from a theatre in the round, addressing the nation by standing among citizens. It's a switch to a more vertical image of authority. CNN announced a similar move. They will speak from a diner. MSNBC will come to us from Herald Square. Why?

The art and design of political conventions are advancing before our eyes. The old forms are breaking up. The stage is literally coming apart. New ideas are emerging in how to “carry” the convention to the rest of the nation— and how to get people to watch.

The latest news confirms it. Once they built a stage for the convention. And on that stage a raised platform, a dias, with a microphone. This was an idea about authority, and clear sight lines. But some ideas are changing.

“President Bush will give his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention next week from a small circular stage in a sea of thousands of delegates and other guests,” wrote Michael Slackman in the New York Times today. (Aug. 27)

In a sea of thousands is a leader who can step up just a little and yet be heard.

“He is not just trapped by a stage,” Mr. McKinnon said. “He doesn’t have the usual comforts of a stage behind him. To me that says strength, that he is willing to stand out there alone.” (That’s Mark McKinnon, Bush’s chief media adviser.)

The advisers are thinking different thoughts these days, and the Republicans have bolder ones. “Only yesterday did campaign aides disclose their plans,” wrote Slackman, “which include a reconfiguration of the convention hall the night the president is in town.”

Old rules: the candidate enters the hall to climb the stage from which others have been cheering him. He joins a theatre in progress over four nights, as the culminating act.

New rules: the candidate “acts” by stepping out from behind the podium, forsaking the protections of the stage, planting himself among his supporters and speaking to the nation from there— a space newly claimed. (Flashback is to the President with the bullhorn at the Trade Center, surrounded by rescue workers.)

Symbolically, Bush is more at risk that way. Without protections. The President’s appearence in the hall is still the culminating event , but it’s a more orginal action. From Wednesday to Thursday night, the Garden will have an entirely new set built: a theater in the round for Bush.

The best the Democrats could manage in Boston was Kerry the backslapper enters from the rear of the Fleet and works forward to the podium. (Flashback is to Clinton happy and confident at the State of the Union.) But Bush won’t be taking the podium Thursday night. Instead, podium space re-arranges itself around his intentions. And so he’s not just speaking to us. He’s coming closer to do it.

Down from the stage and into the crowd was a move the Democrats considered. They almost built a round stage for the Fleet Center, but decided in the end it was too difficult. And too big a leap.

“We wanted the president to be closer to people and surrounded by people,” Mark McKinnon said. “It sort of reflected his strength and character as the man in the arena.” You can see where the Democrats were going. The RNC actually got there.

Four days prior to the announcement of Bush’s leap into the crowd, CNN announced its own stylized move in this direction: Down from the sky box and into… the local diner. From an Aug. 23 press release:

CNN will take over the Tick Tock Diner, located one block from Madison Square Garden on the corner of 34th Street and 8th Avenue, for the week of the Republican National Convention in New York, beginning Monday, Aug. 30.

Outfitted with burgers, shakes, television monitors and wireless access, the CNN Convention Diner will provide an alternative location for delegates, newsmakers and members of the media to watch CNN broadcasts and mingle with CNN anchors.

Bush’s shift from the podium to the floor was a bid “to bring a special intimacy to the carefully scripted atmosphere of a political convention,” the Times said. CNN is going for a similar effect— convention-goers mingling with the anchors. The Diner’s flashback is to a campaign (and journalism) set piece: the small town cafe in New Hampshire or Iowa, where the regulars gather for eggs and coffee.

“As candidates campaign around the county and visit small towns, the diner experience has become a mainstay of national politics,” said Princell Hair, executive vice president and general manager of CNN/U.S.

“Crossfire” will be broadcast from the Diner, and correspondents will do stand up reports from there. Like Bush on Thursday night, CNN at its Tick Tock Diner speaks differently to the nation— not ex-cathedra, but surrounded by people. The device also plays on the cliche about New York, and every big city— that it really is a small town.

MSNBC, for its part, annouced this week that its convention headquarters will be outdoors— in “historic Herald Square Park.” (Press release, Aug. 25th)

Blocks from Madison Square Garden, Herald Square Park is one of the most famous pedestrian crossroads in New York City, providing convention participants as well as the general public the opportunity to participate in MSNBC’s coverage, just as they did at the Democratic National Convention at Boston’s Faneuil Hall.

Yes, the opportunity to participate. A political campaign is supposed to be about that. Mingle with our anchors. Join in our coverage. And watch a leader emerge from a sea of supporters Thursday night.

Dramatistically, the convention is changing. It’s coming down from the sky box, out from the dias. No more from the mountaintop, some at the top are saying. No more from above. We should be talking with you, not at you. That’s our message this year. We think it fits. We think it works.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links.

From the New York Observer back on Dec. 22, 2003:

“Since the President is a different kind of Republican, it makes sense that he is nominated by a different kind of convention,” said Mr. Harris, the Mississippian political operative who chairs the Republican National Committee’s Committee on Arrangements, which formally runs the convention. He promised to “redefine” a political ritual that has decayed from a vibrant party conclave into a coronation ceremony over the years, and which has been met with declining attention from the press and the public.

Posted by Jay Rosen at August 27, 2004 8:14 PM   Print


The best the Democrats could manage in Boston was Kerry the backslapper enters from the rear of the Fleet and works forward to the podium.

Posted by: 小说 at August 28, 2004 11:23 AM | Permalink

Dr. Rosen,

It's coming down from the sky box, out from the dias. Does CNN's change in position signal a change from a "View from Nowhere"? Or is a PR move, same view from a more populist position?

Have conventions become more organizing tools, with training sessions and post-convention assignments for the delegates off-camera, than the consensus building exercise to nominate a candidate?

If the conventions have become advertising campaigns competing for free air time, then are the changes really only political theater set designs? Change the set, something new, something different or untried to attract media attention?

I thought it might be fun to google up analysis on convention structural formats and changes, but had little luck. Some interesting tidbits I did find:

President planning NYC extravaganza, White House goal is unprecedented convention theater (February 26, 2004)

“The entire format and actual physical setup could be radically different,” one GOP insider commented. “They might not even have a podium, or maybe a rotating podium or even a stage that comes up from underground. It would be like a theater in the round, with off-site events that are part of the convention.”

Presidential Nominations and American Democracy

U.S. National Political Conventions Photo Gallery

National Party Conventions (516KB pdf file).

Posted by: Chuck Moulton at August 29, 2004 11:58 AM | Permalink

Nice address. I'm guessing he's not you.

Posted by: jed at August 29, 2004 11:21 PM | Permalink

I don't think Bush is being all that courageous, other than in that he's breaking convention conventions, so to speak. His resilient popularity is due to the fact that many people see him as "just one of the guys," and he's playing to that audience for all he's worth. If Average Joe American were to come to the conclusion that GWB isn't really average himself the election could get very interesting.

Posted by: Alejo at August 30, 2004 1:15 PM | Permalink

From Polipundit: "Fred Barnes says the model for this year's GOP convention is FDR's convention in 1944"

Posted by: Tim at August 30, 2004 5:09 PM | Permalink

Another good historical summary of war-time convention/campaigns on PBS NewsHour Monday (not yet up at the time of this writing).

Discussed Lincoln, FDR (1944), Johnson/Humphrey/Nixon (1968) and Nixon/McGovern (1972).

From last week: Old Wounds

Posted by: Tim at August 30, 2004 7:25 PM | Permalink

I can see why they'd need to copy a Democratic presidential icon.

Posted by: jed at August 30, 2004 9:44 PM | Permalink

Wartime Presidents is a direct link to the PBS Summary I referenced above.

Posted by: Tim at August 31, 2004 6:27 PM | Permalink

I would like to see the building plans for the dias that was built for President Bush at the Republican National Convention. I would enjoy seeing how it was put together so quickly.
I think it was a wonderful idea and it really was effective in bringing the President to the center of the hall.

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