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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 31, 2004

Down at the Tick Tock Diner, I Caught Up With CNN

In which the demise of the network sky box is confirmed, a conceit of Americana (the typical diner) is indulged, and subtle differences appear in how the protests are to be weighed against events at the convention.

Madison Square Garden, Aug. 30: Today I dropped by CNN’s Tick Tock Diner, which sits on Eighth Avenue and 34 Street, catty corner from the arena and well inside the security perimeter. It’s hard to say exactly what the Diner is during its temporary lease to CNN.

“It has all the trappings of a diner,” wrote Dante Chinni in the Christian Science Monitor. “There are chrome stools and booths, and waiters dressed in CNN aprons and shirts. But there’s no real diner— it’s more of a VIP/media lounge cum TV-show set.”

Now according to Sam Feist, senior executive producer for political programming, the idea was to grab a location “that screamed New York.” And said politics. This is it, he said, gesturing around— a true New York Diner.

“Did you have breakfast?” Sam said. I told him I was working. Eason Jordan, executive vice president and chief news executive of CNN, asked me the same thing. Did you have breakfast?

I figured out later that they wanted me to stay and order a real breakfast, on the house, because the Tick Tock Diner was having serious trouble keeping the quote marks at bay. It was supposed to be both a real diner and some television guy’s idea of a typical one— a diner “that screamed New York.”

It was supposed to have the properties of an informal gathering space—all the hubbub of a convention—and the properties of a television studio, in which everything is thought through a hundred and two times. “Candidates go to diners,’ Sam Feist told me. “Politics and diners go hand in hand.”

The Diner was one of the spaces CNN had designed to bring you and I “closer to the convention,” a phrase in use in all my conversations at the Tick Tock. From them I confirmed the impression I had shared with PressThink readers (see this post). The sky box is dead, its vision outmoded. It is being abandoned as a base for convention coverage.

“I challenged my political team to come up with a different way of presenting the convention,” Princell Hair told me. (Bio.) He’s executive vice president and general manager of CNN/U.S. Sam Feist’s boss.

“We want to get out of the hermetically sealed skyboxes at both conventions,” said Feist. “If you are locked behind a thick glass wall where you can’t even hear the convention going on, you don’t feel the excitement, you’re further away from the delegates…” CNN had made improvements, he said. “We went shopping.”

Key purchase: microphones able to pick up an anchor’s voice, and screen out the crowd. Ear pieces capable of screening out the crowd and piping in the program. The stuff was around (pop stars used it) but it had not been used at a political event before, according to Feist.

“Nobody had ever asked to anchor convention coverage from the floor,” Feist said as we shared a booth— like real diners. CNN got the new gear, tested it out, and made the request to the Democrats. The Democrats said yes. And right there the sky box era at conventions came to an end.

“Our goal was to take our viewers into the convention hall so they experience the excitement of the convention,” he said. “To do it, we had to get out of the skybox.” In the Fleet Center the primary CNN studio was a slightly raised platform right on the convention floor. The RNC would not provide that same access. So the CNN platform is as close as possible, near Gate 64, bordering one section of delegates.

In a symbolic gesture, CNN built the sky boxes at the Garden without glass. They are open to the crowd noise, in the same room with the event. In 2004, Feist said, “the bulk of our anchoring is going to be done from our platform on the floor” and others around the perimeter— or down the street. The sky box is now auxiliary space, in a way the least desirable.

The network vantage points are multiplying. “The cookie cutter approach to covering the conventions in a thing of the past,” said Eason Jordan. The action is down on the floor and that is where the news should originate. So say the minds at CNN, who are in agreement on this shift.

I found them less in agreement—in fact, out of alignment—on a more immediate matter of politics and news judgment this week. It’s been in the papers.

“The planners of the Republican National Convention have crafted a minute-by-minute lineup they hope will keep viewers tuned in,” wrote Elizabeth Jensen of the Los Angeles Times. “But nothing they do can guarantee that TV networks won’t cut to a split screen with convention speakers on one side and protesters in the streets of New York on the other.”

The split screen is a metaphor for running with two big stories— where one is trying to “talk” to the other. (See my earlier post on it.) I asked Eason Jordan, Princell Hair and Sam Feist about this. Jordan, the senior executive of the three, said to me: “We’re covering this event a little differently than we did in Boston because outside the hall is where a lot of the action is.” He continued:

And so we have far greater resources outside the hall than we did in Boston where it was relatively quiet. Here, anything can happen. From just major protests, anarchists unleashing some chaos. Even god forbid some sort of terrorist incident. The prospects of that happening here we think are much greater than they were in Boston.

In Jordan’s view, the RNC is a different news environment than the DNC was. The convention hasn’t changed size. But here the city is a bigger surrounding story, and there are many more actors involved in convention week in New York City. “Here, anything can happen.”

News judgment that carried the day during the DNC in Boston may simply not apply to the RNC in New York. That is the implication in Jordan’s remarks. A “split screen” moment is thinkable because street protests and other actions compete with the convention in defining the story the network should be telling.

Princell Hair, executive vice president, and Sam Feist, senior executive producer for political coverage, seemed to be thinking less about the coverage and more about the criticism they might have to contend with. This is from Jensen’s account in the Los Angeles Times:

In the past, the Republicans haven’t been shy about demanding they be treated equally to the Democrats on TV. In July 2000, then-Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson sent network news chiefs a letter demanding they air “not a minute more” of the Democratic gathering than they had of the Republicans, which were held first that year.

Jordan talked about the CNN troops outside the Garden. Princell Hair said, “The bulk of our folks are here at the Garden because that’s where the story is.” There’s a protest angle out there, and it deserves coverage, he said. “But we have to be smart about the decisions we make with regard to events happening outside.”

I asked him: Have you thought about a situation where you might wind up cutting away from the RNC because other things were going on? “Absolutely,” he said. But CNN had to show caution. “We have to give the Republicans their due.” And that was said with some passion.

“In Boston most of our coverage was inside the hall,” said Sam Feist. And so it will be in New York, he predicted—for the story is inside the hall. Of course CNN is ready to cover the protests “a little or a lot, it depends on the size of the protests, it frankly depends on whether any protests turn violent, which they haven’t so far… and obviously whether or not the protests disrupt the convention.”

I said to Feist: “The protests disrupt the convention if they disrupt the televising of the convention— isn’t that so?”

He answered: “I don’t see that the protests have disrupted the televising of the convention and I don’t see that happening.” New York and Boston are parallel events, they will get equal coverage. There was nothing to puzzle over, even with the signs of a counter convention on the streets of New York. We cover the news, Sam reasoned. If the protests make news, we’ll cover that.

Have you had breakfast?

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

Previous convention posts:

The Convention in Section View, Aug. 26

From a Small Circular Stage in a Sea of Thousands, Aug. 27

RNC Drops the Battleship-Style Stage; Goes Lighter, More Flexible, Aug. 30

Posted by Jay Rosen at August 31, 2004 2:15 AM   Print


I can't resist:

If they were going to make a faux-proletarian studio set, forget about a diner. Instead, it should be a *bar*. Then it could serve both "story" journalistic purposes (they can pretend it's "Cheers"), and actual journalistic purposes (i.e., where most convention information seems to be gathered).

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at August 31, 2004 3:12 AM | Permalink

What gets me is that the protests are considered "news" only if they turn violent.

Peaceful protests with hundreds of thousands of people aren't "news."

Posted by: Adina Levin at August 31, 2004 10:16 AM | Permalink

Media 'Con Game': Predetermined Storylines - "Harper's magazine editor Lewis Lapham is being appropriately mocked for a major pre-GOP-convention boner."

Posted by: Tim at August 31, 2004 11:38 AM | Permalink

How does a diner "scream New York"? Was this a decision made by someone up from Atlanta, one of those boomtowns blighted by big box Applebee's, Ruby Tuesdays, and TGIF's? Diners are not only not particular to New York, they're not even all that common -- no more so than the Johnny Rocket chain of faux diners found in shopping malls. If this is their depth of perception of the city all around them, how can we count on them to get the nuances of, say, a Giuliani speech? I know, I know, Rudy ain't exactly subtle -- but he is a very particular New York kind of character.

Posted by: Jeff Sharlet at August 31, 2004 12:47 PM | Permalink

"Schulz is a former policy analyst with Empower America where he served as an advisor to former Secretary of Education and author William Bennett and former Vice Presidential candidate and New York Congressman Jack Kemp. He was a research assistant for Virginia Postrel on her book 'The Future and Its Enemies.'"

Now that's what I call an objective Journalist. No agenda there by gumbo!

Posted by: Jeremiah at August 31, 2004 1:29 PM | Permalink

Jeff, Jeff. You're thinking in real life. This is TV! Entertainment!

It has to scream New York in stereotypes, not realities. Especially since most viewers are probably not from nor have ever been to NYC (no evidence of course). Visual shorthand and all that.

Posted by: Todd G at August 31, 2004 2:00 PM | Permalink

Adina: I agree with your reaction. I don't think a senior producer quite knows what he's saying when he explains it that way: the protests are considered "news" only if they turn violent.

Jeff: You are totally on point. Johnny Rocket chain of diners is very close to what this is. But it looks out on a real New York street. The mix of real and surreal is standard TV goes on location confusion. What's odd is how news people, specialists in the real, are forced into these "fake" environments to do television. Then they talk them to life.

"What could say 'politics' more than a diner?" was Sam's attitude. Only to television people is the connection so utterly clear.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at August 31, 2004 4:21 PM | Permalink

The split screen is a metaphor for running with two big stories-- where one is trying to "talk" to the other. I'm not sure that juxtaposing stories is always a metaphor, or that what is "said" accurately represents one story "talking" to the other.

MEDIA AND POLITICS: We're obliged to bear witness

ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN all started covering the president's press conference live. But when Air Force crews at Dover began the somber process of removing four flag-draped metal cases containing the remains of four Navy SEALs, all but NBC either briefly cut to Dover or split their screens to show both of the undeniably related events. (NBC delayed its coverage from Dover until after the press conference.)

If the protests make news, we'll cover that.

"Father to Son: What I've Learned About Rage"

Norman Mailer That’s the third benefit—a dubious one. You can feel that, yes, you’re working to change the system, but are you changing it or confirming it? Never assume that a protest is going to accomplish what you want it to. Media interpretations of your protest dull the impulse, warp it, or even choke it off. If you could talk to the people you really want to reach out there, people far from New York, talk to them face to face, eye to eye, they might listen, because you do have things to say. Of course, you have to stay cool. Americans get nervous when listening to anyone who’s keyed up. Major politicians are always cool. The one moment, for example, when Howard Dean went over the top, remember? The media never forgave him. And the mass of TV viewers followed like sheep. Dean had committed a no-no—he had expressed his pain and anger loudly. The problem with mass protests is that you have to pass through that immense filter of the news media. So you do get on TV for your fifteen seconds of Warholian fame. All your friends say, “Hey, man, you were on!” As if you’ve accomplished something. You might have been screaming. You might have had your face painted with ketchup to look like blood. Even if you manage to be semi-reasonable on the air, the odds are against speaking incisively and calmly. Because you’ve just got the one moment. So, all too often, protests accomplish the opposite of what they desire. Over the long term, protests can do a lot, but not at once. For example, when we had the march on the Pentagon in the fall of 1967, the immediate reaction was bad. The media trashed us. But we did have a positive effect over a period of time. In contrast, the demonstrations in Chicago in the summer of ’68 probably lost Humphrey the election.

Players: Toward a More Honest Job Description For the Political Press: "A conventional, common sense description of the job during campaign season would look like this:

  • Cover what the candidates are doing and saying as they compete for support;

  • Dig into their backgrounds and explain where they come from, where they stand;

  • Track the progress of the race and factors that go into winning it, like fundraising;

  • Examine the major issues in the campaign, showing where the candidates stand;

  • Pose tough questions that illuminate the issues and hold actors to account;

  • Offer analysis and commentary for additional background and context;

  • Sometimes feature voters and their views as they make up their minds.

That’s how you cover a campaign, right?"

The End of Immunity / Finishing the Work of the Terrorists

Indivisible from: there's a journalism ethic with long roots. But how well does it fit with modern, cosmopolitan, "without fear or favor" press think?

Posted by: Tim at August 31, 2004 5:22 PM | Permalink

Blogger Scoop?

"It's official: General Tommy Franks just told the bloggers that he is endorsing President Bush for re-election. This was the first time, I think, that he made the announcement."

Posted by: Tim at August 31, 2004 6:44 PM | Permalink

Long Stifled, Iraqis Make Most of Chance to Vent on Talk Radio


The station forces the government to make time. Local and federal officials come as guests and are grilled by listeners. The talk shows result in uncomfortable situations, which would have been unheard of in the time of Saddam Hussein, when government officials were royalty and ordinary citizens were mere supplicants who were easily ignored.


Beyond easing the frustrations of daily life, the station provides a real chance for Iraqis to talk publicly about politics for the first time in decades. Listeners' calls open a window onto the lives of Iraqis, whose opinions often go unheard in the frantic pace of bombings, kidnappings and armed uprisings.

[snip, for Ben Franklin]

Another time, he asked listeners what they thought about the insurgency that has roiled Iraq, claiming most of the energies of the new interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and putting the American occupation in danger of failure.

"We asked them, is it terrorism or is it resistance," he said. "A very large proportion, almost 100 percent, said terrorism. They did not like it."


I wonder if someone could invest in simulcasting this on the Internet?

Posted by: Tim at August 31, 2004 8:49 PM | Permalink

"Most calls are about the nuts and bolts of life. Many public services have not recovered since the American occupation began more than a year ago. Daily power failures persist. Piles of trash are heaped on city streets. In poorer areas, leaky sewage pipes taint water supplies."

As for the insurgency opinion that's 100% of how many calls as opposed to the millions in the country? I think discerning readers will notice the difference. It's just that not many dare post here because of well, the occupation.

Iraq has been turned into a freelance terrorist marketplace for real now unlike before when it was a Stalinesque stronghold of one family. Hmmm? Who's fixing these problems and with whose money?

What salam pax asaying these days? Perhaps a little context is in order?

Posted by: Jeremiah Jewett at August 31, 2004 9:42 PM | Permalink

Back to the convention and media... I walked by the CNN diner last night. There was a high school republicans on the corner, staring at it longingly; they couldn't get past the bouncer, who was only letting a group of men in surprisingly fabulous suits in. I guess CNN got it right -- that does scream NYC.

Question: Is the scarce coverage of the protests a result of a misapplied fairness doctrine? If the press covered the protests, conservatives would scream that they didn't cover the protests at the DNC, regardless of the fact that these are exponentially more significant. So the press plays it safe, as if it wasn't covering the convention so much as selling a self-publicize package, in which DNC and RNC get pretty much the exact same approach.

Posted by: Jeff Sharlet at September 1, 2004 10:45 AM | Permalink

Jeff Sharlet,

I think the protests are getting coverage with the arrests and hyperbole making the news.

Of course, the counter-protests are getting much less coverage.

From what I've read, coverage of the protests could work to the advantage of either candidate. I don't hear the Kerry camp complaining about a lack of coverage, nor do I hear conservatives complaining about excessive coverage, so far.

If anything, conservatives are complaining that the MSM are "mainstreaming" the protests.

Posted by: Tim at September 1, 2004 11:51 AM | Permalink

"When I spoke with Jay Rosen last night, he said that too many people -- media people particularly -- are trying vainly to make 2004 into 1968, though there really are very few parallels; they are different times with different causes, a different experience." - Arrested at BuzzMachine

Posted by: Tim at September 1, 2004 12:43 PM | Permalink

More on protests from the notoriously right-wing CJR. (H/T: Wizbang)

Posted by: Tim at September 1, 2004 3:47 PM | Permalink

ratherbiased is credible? MSM? These are conspiratorial in nature. End of story.

Posted by: Jeremiah Jewett at September 1, 2004 6:00 PM | Permalink

Clean up on aisle 4!!

Bye Mark!

Posted by: Tim at September 1, 2004 6:46 PM | Permalink

Common knowledge for any Democrat. Especially professional Journalists. Hint: There is more than one each.

Posted by: Jeremiah Jewett at September 1, 2004 7:41 PM | Permalink

Hint: say hello to Helen for me.

Posted by: Tim at September 1, 2004 10:27 PM | Permalink

Helen? Hunt?

Posted by: Jeremiah Jewett at September 1, 2004 11:27 PM | Permalink

Protestors to the Press: "We Don't Need You."

Tim -- I'm confused by your comments about the protests and Kerry. You write as if you assume I'm complaining about lack of protest coverage out of support for Kerry. Huh? Why does a desire for a full spectrum of press coverage indicate support for a candidate? As it happens, I don't support Kerry. If you must know, I won't be voting. And I'm still struck by how utterly banal most of the press coverage of the protestors has been.

I didn't bother with convention credentials. As many have said, we all knew more or less what was going to happen inside. Instead, I've been walking around outside, talking to people, listening to them, and ditching my assumptions. I've covered protests before, but, as Jay points out, different times, different issues, different protests. So I kept my ears open. What I heard is so at odds with the master narrative of the press that I have to wonder if they bothered doing any reporting at all. I certainly didn't see them doing much. With the exception of a lot of photographers looking for freaks, and one local Fox news reporter who set up shop in the middle of an indy media rally (brave, indeed), most mainstream press assigned to the protests has been camped at 31st and 8th Ave. The questions they ask -- usually along the lines of, Will violence break out -- are so off point that I've watched protestors laugh and walk away.

One of the big stories of this convention should have been the rise of a protest culture that, for better or worse, just doesn't care about mainstream media. For instance, despite the charges that the protestors are "white and wildly affluent" (Andrea Peyser), I saw a lot of "blocs" of organized Latino voters. They were happy to talk to me as just a guy in the street. But when I took out my notebook, they pulled up their bandanas and marched away. The message: "We don't need you." Perhaps this is a mirror of the sentiments Ralph Reed expressed on Tuesday at a no-press evangelical rally in the Waldorf Astoria -- If I have to explain, you don't get it.

--As for counter protestors, they may be being undercovered, but I don't think so. I've missed the Republican "Protest Warriors" (tho the rumor is they're a satirical improv group), and I've only seen about three dozen other counter protestors -- a gang of racists (typical sign: Put black children in black schools) and a group of frat boys in Union Square with lavishly produced signs illustrated with silhouttes of fighter planes, tanks, handguns, and missile launchers. They smirked, they shoved, they called people "fag," they hi-fived, they said Jesus is voting for Bush. It seemed like a prank to me. I've seen plenty of more sincere evangelicals, some protesting, more proselytizing, but none of the latter would describe themselves as counter protestors or concerned with politics.

Posted by: Jeff Sharlet at September 2, 2004 1:41 PM | Permalink

Correction: I wrote above about organized blocs of Latino voters. I meant to write "protestors." I have no idea whether they're voting.

Posted by: Jeff Sharlet at September 2, 2004 1:43 PM | Permalink

You write as if you assume I'm complaining about lack of protest coverage out of support for Kerry.

I disagreed with your assertion the protests were getting "scarce coverage". I didn't write with the assumption that you were complaining, just that you were wrong about the scarcity of the coverage.

But you seem to be complaining more about the quality of the coverage the protests are getting than the quantity.

Posted by: Tim at September 2, 2004 2:05 PM | Permalink

Sequel to Media 'Con Game': Predetermined Storylines:

Media Metaphysics

In the main, the publication of stories about events that have yet to occur is harmless. Contrary to fevered concerns of the political speech police, readers are smart enough to figure out what's going on. But it does nothing to build confidence in a Fourth Estate that, as Glenn Reynolds has pointed out, is already on the verge of a meltdown. I was flooded with emails from people telling me it's this sort of break with trust -- no matter how seemingly insignificant -- that explains their unwillingness to watch the network news broadcasts and or read many of the major broadsheet papers anymore. Small things like this are indicative, to many media consumers, of the larger problems plaguing the establishment.

Posted by: Tim at September 3, 2004 11:16 AM | Permalink

Can't resist any longer ...

The Associated Press Makes It Up

TPM, Drum comments and Atrios comments.

Posted by: Tim at September 4, 2004 4:27 PM | Permalink

The Crowd That Didn't Boo

On the day of the West Allis rally, Lindlaw was wearing ear plugs in his ears, as he often does to minimize crowd noise. After Bush's speech, he approached another AP reporter and said that he thought he had heard boos, and asked whether his colleague had heard any. The second AP reporter said that she didn't hear any booing. Nevertheless, Lindlaw apparently sent in a story, which wound up for some unexplained reason under Tom Hays' byline, which said:
Bush's audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them.

Who's watching the watchers? Bloggers.

Posted by: Tim at September 9, 2004 2:30 PM | Permalink

From the Intro