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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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September 14, 2004

Stark Message for the Legacy Media

Journalists find before them, with 50 days left, a campaign overtaken by Vietnam, by character issues, attacks, and fights about the basic legitimacy of various actors-- including the press itself, including Dan Rather. It's been a dark week. And the big arrow is pointing backwards.

ABC’s The Note, which I find essential these days, has its own term for them: the Gang of 500. That would be the 500 people whose decisions matter to the political news and campaign narrative we get from the major media. The Note writes a lot about this group, of which it is a self-conscious part.

At this precise time every four years, the most media-savvy members of the Gang of 500 begin to think about their roles in the premiere post-election forum that revisits the actions and players of the presidential race.

This turns out to be an event—or “quadrennial gabfest”—at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, held in the winter, after the campaign has ended but while memories are fresh, where the task is to write the second draft of history for campaign 2004, and to figure out what actually happened. Check out the guest list:

a group of journalists who covered the campaign leading top political players from all camps through a chronological discussion of who-did-what-when-and-why behind the scenes during the course of the nomination and general election periods.

The Note on September 10th told us that journalists are now starting to project to what they will be saying in recap then. They are bouncing forward to the post-mortem, planting imaginary feet, and looking back at what happened in the 2004 election cycle.

For the Democrats in Cambridge (under a Kerry loss scenario), the talk will be about August, reliving the Dukakis nightmare, and the press’s inability to live up to the shared claim about the historic “importance” of the election.

According to The Note, the issues on the table for the press will be “the ease with which the establishment media was led around by the nose by the Internet, cable, and paid media that was just above the video-press-release level.” Led around by the nose— and by inferior material!

Nothing new in that, but I found this prediction revealing: “… even if Kerry wins, there will be much talk about the discipline, focus, success, and, yes, shamelessness of the [Bush Cheney] team.” What that team will be said to have accomplished:

Avoiding a nomination challenge; merciless distribution of message of the day; deflection of any serious discussion of the war in Iraq, health care, jobs, or the tax burden; installing a White House press secretary willing to use the podium for political purposes but not respond directly to any hard questions; making the race not about the incumbent’s record but the challenger’s, all the while claiming to want to focus on “the future”; and the wielding of national security as the ultimate political trump card.

Come winter, I doubt there be much talk at Harvard about the amazing “discipline,” consistent “focus,” or indeed the success of the news media’s effort in 2004. It will not be seen as an election where the press won ground. And there will be devastating portraits of ground lost.

The current crisis at CBS News is certainly that. (Go here and here for some of the latest.)

But in fact there are other signs of drift. The Gang of 500 reporters, editors, pundits and producers who were supposed to tell us, as best they could, the story of the 2004 election, find news of their own helplessness in the very headlines they compose.

They find a campaign with 50 days left overtaken by Vietnam, by character issues, by attacks, and by fights over the legitimacy of various actors (including the Gang itself, including Dan Rather)— rather than all the problems Americans face looking forward. Here’s Jonathan Alter of Newsweek and MSNBC, a representative figure in the 500, on the distinction:

But there’s a second reason Bush wants to spend valuable time debating debates. It runs down the clock on discussion of important stuff, like his record in office. The debate over debates is a classic “campaign issue” as opposed to a “real issue.” Campaign issues have little to do with how a candidate would perform as president; they are manufactured by the campaigns to score points.

How did we get here? A campaign full of “campaign issues” when there are so many real world issues going unaddressed. Alter adds:

The media, particularly cable TV (which drives so much of the agenda nowadays), make it worse by favoring hot-button stories over complex, hard-to-illustrate real problems that the next president can actually work on.

What is manufactured as a “hot button” issue by campaigners finds a fellow manufacturer in the cable networks, news magazines and newspapers of the nation. They have hot buttons of their own to push. Alter knows this. He can explain why campaign 2004, with fifty days to go, isn’t about “hard-to-illustrate real problems that the next president can actually work on.” The political press can opine on things like that, but seems helpless to change them.

What the Gang of 500 is failing at, by its own verdict, is in this paragraph from Howard Kurtz’s Media Notes (Sep. 12):

“Here the campaign is dealing with terrorism and war, but we’re still capable of losing ourself in matters 35 years old that belong on ‘Jeopardy!’ or ‘Trivial Pursuit,’ ” says Frank Sesno, a George Mason University professor and former CNN anchor. While he blames Kerry in part for putting Vietnam at the center of his campaign, Sesno sees an “almost ridiculous contrast” between the country’s problems and the media’s obsession with old controversies.

Howard Fineman and Michael Isikoff, also of Newsweek, also part of the Gang, try to explain why it’s “slime time” again in 2004.

Bush primarily sells himself, rather than his policies (after attacking Kerry in $60 million worth of ads); Kerry defends in kind, turning the Democratic convention into the Biography Channel. Though voters face profound questions, the war on terror has engendered not a high-minded discussion of geopolitics but an obsession—even by American standards—with our would-be commander’s character.

If you can explain why that “high minded discussion of geopolitics” turns up missing in 2004, well at least you’ve added something. If you can show how those “complex, hard-to-illustrate real problems” get buried while point scoring goes forward, hey— that’s information too.

I’m partial to the recent statement by 26 year-old Brian Keefer, creator of, in Sunday’s Washington Post (Sep. 12). He is not a member of the gang, just disgusted with what they’re doing:

Perhaps it’s because I’m young enough that I missed the Vietnam War by the better part of a decade and would rather hear about Iraq, where people my age are fighting and dying. Or perhaps it’s because I think that political campaigns should turn on more than trivia and silly political point-scoring. Whatever the reason, the last few weeks of presidential campaign coverage have struck me as symptomatic of everything that’s wrong with the establishment news media from a young person’s perspective.

“The establishment news media” is another name for The Note’s Gang of 500. (I tend to call it the press tribe.) Many online have been using “mainstream media,” abbreviated as MSM. Big Media has also been popular. Recently, however, a new term has come into the lexicon— new to my ear, though it’s been around for a while. “Legacy media” is what some are calling it now, as in “What people in the legacy media need to ask themselves is…” (See further examples from Glenn Reynolds here and here.)

What are known as “legacy carriers” in the airline industry (United, American, Delta, Continental, US Airways, Northwest) are those with “legacy costs” that are slowly forcing the firms into bankruptcy. The legacy media means, of course, the old world firms that employ the Gang of 500, with their traditional platforms, ideas, and ways.

Like the airlines, the legacy media is still around, and still important. But legacy costs, which new competitors do not bear, coupled with the complacency of being longtime big shots, endanger the beast’s survival. When Reynolds and others call it the legacy media, then, they mean it is a backward pointing force in media history, always referring to its legacy rather than battling out in the open for its future, for its view.

Here’s Bryan Keefer on other forms of legacy thinking in the press:

They’re still wedded to outdated ambitions like getting the “scoop” or maintaining a veneer of objectivity, both of which are concepts that have been superseded by technology. We live in an era when PR pros have figured out how to bend the news cycle to their whims, and much of what’s broadcast on the networks bears a striking resemblance to the commercials airing between segments.

That news and advertising are “kept separate” is a foundational belief for the professional journalist. It creates professional pride. It’s part of the legacy. News is one thing, advertising another. Keefer says: when news is filled with spin, that difference disappears.

Like other twenty-somethings (I’m 26), I’ve been raised in an era when advertising invades every aspect of pop culture, and to me the information provided by mainstream news outlets too often feels like one more product, produced by politicians and publicists.

I agree with Andrew Sullivan (writing in the New Republic): CBS defaulted when it “dug in against an avalanche of evidence against it” rather than investigate. Sullivan about Dan Rather, who this week is the legacy media personified:

His attitude, moreover, has bordered on the contemptuous; and the blogosphere has chewed him up and spat him out. He has acted as if journalism is a privilege rather than a process; as if his long career makes his critics illegitimate; as if his good motives can make up for bad material. The original mistake was not a firable offense. But the digging in surely is.

Digging in might have worked at one time. “Fifteen years ago — maybe even five years ago — the world would simply have accepted the legitimacy of the documents,” wrote John Podhoretz in the New York Post. “After all, CBS said it had gone to an expert to have them authenticated.” We were still within the pale of trust me journalism then. “Well, this isn’t the old days,” Podhoretz warned. We stand by our story… won’t last an hour without solid proof or greater transparency.

CBS News incurs huge legacy costs when it errs because of the way it has always constructed authority. “When you’re a news anchor, you’re not just putting your arguments on the line — you’re putting yourself on the line,” Glenn Reynolds wrote yesterday, trying to get at the cost differentials.

Dan Rather has a problem with that. For journalists of his generation, admitting an error means admitting that you’ve violated people’s trust. For bloggers, admitting an error means you’ve missed something, and now you’re going to set it right.”

What people in the legacy media need to ask themselves is, which approach is more likely to retain credibility over time?

Tom Rosenstiel, once a participant in the Gang of 500 as a reporter for Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times, wrote this week about an historic change, which has been a long time coming. The broadcast networks, he says, are “ceding TV journalism to cable” and an editorial tradition is being lost. “Network news was built around the carefully written and edited story, produced by correspondents and vetted in advance to match words and pictures.” But that part of the legacy is being dropped.

Cable news is a live and extemporaneous medium built around talk. Only 11 percent of the time is devoted to edited stories. Eighty percent is given over to in-studio interviews, studio banter, “anchor reads” and live reporter stand-ups, in which correspondents talk off the top of their heads or from hasty notes.

What is lost in the cable obsession with “live” is the chance to double-check, to rewrite, to edit — and often to even report.

The chance “even to report” can be lost to journalists, though the news rolls on and in a sense there is more of it. Consider, in this connection, a report on September 10th from the Chicago Tribune’s Jill Zuckman, national correspondent covering the Kerry campaign. “Who knows what lurks in the heart and mind of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry?” she wrote. “Not the traveling press corps, that’s for sure.” They can’t get the candidate to take questions.

…Kerry travels across the country on a 757 airplane packed with staff, Secret Service agents, reporters, photographers and cameramen. The candidate sits at the front of the plane while the media stay in the back. Usually, reporters can get a glimpse of his gray mane when he stands in the aisle chatting with staff. Occasionally, he throws around a football on the airport tarmac, sometimes inviting a reporter to join in.

But ask him a question and Kerry shakes his head, puts up his hand and walks away with a small smile.

Remarkable, no? John Kerry, a candidate who is clearly behind in the final quarter, who has never come clearly into focus for most pundits let alone voters, who has been unable to explain his position on the war in Iraq, or define an approach to fighting terror, and who is still sketchily known to the American people… finds that no purpose is served by participating in the most elementary ritual there is in political journalism: answering reporters questions.

Wonkette recently ran some samples of “pool reports,” where one or two reporters are allowed up close on behalf of the entire press corps, which is kept back. The pool reporters have to tell everyone else what happens. These are sad days:

From: kerrypool
Sent: Fri Sep 10 19:58:02 2004
Subject: [Kerrypool] “Over zealous staff”

Despite your pools best attempts to get information about the candidate’s meeting earlier - your pool was told it was private.

Senator Kerry disclosed at the rally - to 15,000 people - that his private meeting was with 9/11 widows.

You try every way you know to get an answer to a simple question, “who is the Senator meeting with this morning?” You are told the information is private. So you write that down. Then he announces it instead to the entire rally. So you write that down. And that’s campaign reporting.

From: kerrypool
Sent: Friday, September 10, 2004 6:15 PM
Subject: Re: [Kerrypool]

The senator left hangar 7 at 6:10p ET and saw a group of seven people waiting in the parking lot. The senator took a picture with the group and upon leaving your pooler tried yet again to get the candidate we all cover as he runs for president of the united states to answer a question from his national press corps. Your pooler asked whether saddam hussein would be in power if he were president and then when if ever he would talk to the press.

The pooler did not get an answer. But I thought it was interesting the way futility was phrased. “Tried yet again to get the candidate we all cover… to answer a question from his national press corps.” Kerry had earned it—the national press traveling with him everywhere—but Kerry didn’t want it. That is he couldn’t risk engaging with the press. And so one of the ways journalists have of bringing issues into the campaign— to ask and keep asking about them—is effectively stilled.

“Think of the next 11 weeks until the election as a challenge: as a test of weblogs’ real value,” wrote Jeff Jarvis on August 23. Then he asked a legacy question— but of the a new Gang, the webloggers.

When we wake up after the election, will we be able to point to the ways and posts in which this new medium contributed, or at least tried to contribute, to improving the coverage of the campaign and the policies of the candidates and the wisdom of the electorate? Will we have made a difference at all? Or will we have made it worse?

Did we push the coverage and the candidates in ways that mattered? Or did we wallow in mud?

Now is our opportunity to show what we can do. So what can we do?

Here’s one answer to that, from the New York Sun (Sep. 13):

Four little-known online commentators — known as Web-loggers, or bloggers for short— were instrumental in landing a blow to CBS News with their reports that documents involving President Bush’s Air National Guard service may have been faked.

Mike Jenner, executive editor of the community-minded Bakersfield Californian, said what he was going to do in an editorial Saturday. Jenner wrote that “our preoccupation with the military service of Bush and Kerry has overshadowed” more serious reporting that would help readers and viewers make informed choices. “Now, as we enter the campaign’s home stretch, we are taking a different tack. We will decrease the prominence given to the latest accusations and counterattacks.”

If the news is truly noteworthy, we’ll run it — but more likely on an inside page than on Page One. And more often than not we’ll summarize the news in a paragraph or two, rather than running a lengthy story.

I know this will disappoint some readers. And I admit that some of the smartest editors on our staff believe this is a risky position.

The candidates themselves both seem to spend much of their day-to-day campaigning focused on personal attacks. This may well be part of a strategy to keep the focus off what matters most.

“Just seven weeks and two days remain before Americans elect a president,” Jenner wrote, pledging to provide “more context and more information about the candidates that is truly relevant, while diminishing the focus on what happened more than 30 years ago.” So there’s one editor who isn’t helpless in changing the course of news coverage. But I don’t think the Institute of Politics will be inviting him to the big post-mortem.

When President Bush came to speak to the minority journalists’ conference in Washington last month, the big news was about the greater applause for Kerry—a standing ovation at the end—and whether this showed undue bias in the press. Alter might call that a “campaign issue,” not a real one. (See PressThink on it.)

How many Americans know that Bush made news that day when he said for the first time that he was opposed to so-called “legacy admissions” in colleges and universities?

I wonder if John Kerry agrees with that. I wonder if Bush could be made to elaborate: how would he actually end legacy admissions? Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear the two men, both Yale graduates, debate it?

Maybe they will puzzle over that, and other discussions that went missing this year, when the journalists get together with the political insiders at Harvard during the winter, and they talk about “who-did-what-when-and-why behind the scenes,” and put another election cycle to bed.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

See the Conclusion to this one, a separate post, Sep. 15: Campaign Puzzler: How the Press Comes Out with a Win.

Tim Oren at Due Dligence on the economic box the legacy media are trapped within… Dissecting the Media: Trust and Transactions. “The increasing competition from Internet information sources, and the exposure of incompetence and bias via citizens’ media, will have a fragmenting effect on existing information bundles. The attempts of many legacy media sites to forbid ‘deep linking’ and/or set up registration walls is testimony that they are— whether analytically or viscerally—attempting to retain the illusion of bundle, rather than the reality of cherry picking by the audience.”

Chris Nolan writes about CBS’s-ers (Sep. 14): “Thinking they were living in a world where reporters’ judgments aren’t questioned because—simply by doing their jobs, they demonstrate a nobility of purpose that make their work beyond question to outsiders.” I agree with that. The legacy is in the way of the reality. My favorite bit from Nolan:

In a day and age when people actually read newspapers and when the local rag had some power over day-to-day events in a community, where the paper or TV station was locally owned or where the place was staffed by people who actually spent time in the community, the public service argument made a lot of sense. Reporters and editors traded high salaries for power and prestige. Today, however, the public service argument is just cover for shoddily run businesses owned by large corporations with little, if any interest, in the communities they serve. Full of wire copy you can read anywhere on the web, staffed by kids just out of school who think day care and babysitting are the same thing, lacking the resources to pay overtime to let reporters cover meetings or other events where they might meet and cultivate sources outside the paper, paranoid about criticism of political or other bias, and under constant pressure from advertisers…

Journalist Kelly McBride at the Poynter Ethics Journal:

Journalists can no longer assume the audience will trust the story. Instead, newsrooms will take extra steps to articulate their mission and educate their audience with every story, every day. This is what we did. This is how we did it. This is why you should trust us. We used to hide all this. We didn’t want the competition retracing our steps, tracking down our sources, doing a better story. The mystery of making the news is no longer worth preserving.

Many-to-few journalism. Dan Gillmor in his San Jose Mercury News column:

Regardless of what one thinks of the bloggers’ politics, they advanced the memo story. And they did it fast — no doubt more quickly than the mass media would have done.

They could fuel the firestorm for several reasons. First, they were passionate about their cause: looking for reasons to shoot down the CBS report, which turned out to be a huge target.

Second, they are many. We in the media — at least those of us who might have been prepared to jump instantly into the question of whether the memos were real — are relatively few.

Just posted at O’Reilly Network: A Conversation Between Dan Gillmor and Jay Rosen. (Gillmor is the author of a new book on how citizens are transforming journalism, We The Media.) Excerpt:

Gillmor: The first thing we’d need to do is listen, pay attention to what is being said. To really get out of the lecture mode that we’ve been in and to recognize that something new is going on that will benefit not just our journalism — which of course we want to do — but benefit the people who are reading or listening to or viewing our journalism. Those are the people who we say we want to serve. So, the conversation part of it — the listening part, the responding part — is not just for journalists. It’s for all of us, it’s for everybody. And it comes back to what I’ve made a kind of a cliché in my own world, which is that my readers know more than I do.

Rosen: I want to ask about that cliché, because I don’t think it’s a cliché. I think it’s a major insight. First of all, tell me what happened to make you realize “My readers know more than I do.” And why didn’t it just freak you out?

Gillmor: Well, it did freak me out at first.

Very smart article from Jesse Walker at Reason, arguing that “the 60 Minutes saga is not essentially a conflict between the old media and the new.”

When CBS aired those dubious memos last Wednesday, it set off a reaction that began in cyberspace but by the end of Thursday had gotten all the way to Nightline. Bloggers and Freepers were doing fresh reporting and fresh analysis of the story. So were ABC, the Associated Press, and The Washington Post. The professional media drew on the bloggers for ideas; the bloggers in turn linked to the professionals’ reports. The old media and the new media weren’t at loggerheads with each other—or, to the extent that they were, they were also at loggerheads with themselves. They complemented each other. They were part of the same ecosystem.

That’s what is most fascinating about the elimination of media entry barriers, the rise of distributed journalism, and the new influx of reporting and commentary from outside the professional guild. The new outlets aren’t displacing the old ones; they’re transforming them. Slowly but noticeably, the old media are becoming faster, more transparent, more interactive—not because they want to be, but because they have to be.

Matt Welch cleverly illustrates one way that bloggers outperform the Los Angeles Times and its reporting standards: Forget Linking, Just Name the Damned Source, L.A. Times! As a bonus, he finds bias too.

Carroll Andrew Morse writes: “Somewhere along the line, the elite gatherers of information had forgotten that their rationale for providing partial information was a practical one — the limits related to the costs of publishing. They forgot that the ideal was giving out as much information as possible. They moved from an inability to report in maximal detail to an unwillingness to report in maximal detail.”

Michael Tomasky in the American Prospect, The Pathetic Truth:

Republicans understand the world, and Democrats do not. Republicans know that voters will respond emotionally to character questions, and they know that the media will lap them up like a thirsty dog. Democrats keep thinking that voters will do something as improbably nutritional as study a health care plan (as, surely, a scattered few do), and that the media will show themselves eager to write articles and broadcast discussion segments about health care plans. Both assumptions are folly.

George W. Bush has a record the Democrats should have made mincemeat of. Right about now, the media should be writing, and American voters should be thinking: Golly, a million jobs lost, millions more in poverty, manufacturing down; no WMD’s, 1,000-plus dead, Iraq on the brink of civil war, al-Qaeda larger than ever and still recruiting, acts of worldwide terrorism on the rise, North Korea and Iran responding to the cowboy routine by going nuclear. This should have been easy.

Now, it’s too late for the Democrats to create these narratives.

Billmon, Blogging Sells, and Sells Out (op ed, Los Angeles Times, Sep. 26):

What began as a spontaneous eruption of populist creativity is on the verge of being absorbed by the media-industrial complex it claims to despise. In the process, a charmed circle of bloggers — those glib enough and ideologically safe enough to fit within the conventional media punditocracy — is gaining larger audiences and greater influence. But the passion and energy that made blogging such a potent alternative to the corporate-owned media are in danger of being lost, or driven back to the outer fringes of the Internet…

That world of inspired amateurs still exists, but it’s rapidly being overshadowed by the blogosphere’s potential for niche marketing. Ad dollars are flowing into the blogosphere. And naturally, most are going to the A-list blogs. As media steer readers toward the top blogs, the temptation to sell out to the highest bidder could become irresistible, and the possibility of making it in the marketplace as an independent blogger increasingly theoretical.”

Posted by Jay Rosen at September 14, 2004 11:09 PM   Print


Kevin Drum: ISSUES vs. CHARACTER (Part 1) (Part 2)

Posted by: Tim at September 14, 2004 11:56 PM | Permalink

None of this is going to matter much if MSM gives CBS a pass on their blatant lack of transparency and accountability. Heck, most press releases demonstrate more integrity than CBS has.

And, if press releases are as trustworthy as CBS, who will be to blame if people come to prefer them?

Note to MSM: Writing snarky editorials that provide a pat on the back at the same type they castigate is a "pass." See, LA Times,,1,7747016.story

If CBS continues to stonewall and still takes its place at the cozy little meeting in Cambridge. That's a pass too.

Posted by: Ernest Miller at September 15, 2004 1:04 AM | Permalink

From the LA Times:,1,7747016.story

"Whatever the truth, CBS' real error was trying to prove a point that didn't really need to be proved."


If the documents are forgeries and CBS had evidence of such that they disregarded and CBS subsequently stonewalled any investigation, casting aspersions on those who questioned the documents, that is not as bad as choosing to pursue a story aiming to prove certain allegations about Bush's service in the National Guard?


We can debate the role of the press all day long, but if there is no foundation of journalistic ethics what does it matter?

Posted by: Ernest Miller at September 15, 2004 1:20 AM | Permalink

I think this campaign (and the coverage) is a natural consequence of having two candidates neither of whom could be called a "quick study". Kerry's refusal to deal with a press corps that is far from adversarial suggests a back row student who hopes he won't get called upon because he might flub the answer. (Kerry has flubbed several answers so far.)

Bush of course is a train wreck most of the time of garbled syntax, neologisms, and malapropisms, but he's also more comfortable delegating to underlings and keeping a "big picture" role.

There are obvious policy differences but because the candidates constrain themselves to ever vaguer statements about them it's practically impossible for a real substantive debate to take hold. I don't think there's much the press can do about this, witness the pitiful atmosphere of powerlessness sitting on Kerry's jet while he hobnobs with photo-op widows and local reporters (nuff said there).

It is not democracy at its very best, that's for sure.

A note on the debate manuevering--the debates themselves are rather shallow television events. More about posturing and strutting (cf 2000) than debating anything. I do not think they have any more value than the conventions. Please let's not have any more town halls, I am embarrassed for the "undecided" citizens and the questions they invariably ask and the profound ignorance their questions reveal.

Posted by: Brian at September 15, 2004 1:31 AM | Permalink

Ernest, "journalistic ethics" is a term of art, like "agent's honor". I won't be completely snarky and say it's an oxymoron. But it's highly "insider" and esoteric, from this outsider's point of view. That editorial is akin to criticizing a general for a strategic misstep in occupying territory (all the cannon-fodder which got killed in the action is not relevant in that system).

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at September 15, 2004 2:38 AM | Permalink

Yesterday's TIME magazine posted a facsimile of one of the letters in question. To me (a bigtime typist in that era with over 50,000 pages under my belt) it looked completely credible.

Indeed, you couldn't have produced it with MS Word. As crappy as Word looks on the screen, when it comes out in print, the vertical spacing is much more even than the sample in TIME.

I was completely unimpressed with the "th" superscript argumentation on this website, and have unsubscribed to the RSS feed. Basically, I never want to hear Jay Rosen's opinion on anything again. And I certainly want to avoid reading the uninformed comments.

Selectric/Composer elements were easily obtainable in the timeframe, from IBM or Camwill, Inc (835 Keeaumoku, honolulu, Hawaii), with any symbol you specified, including everything from IPA (international phonetic alphabet) to the McDonalds arches.

Centering anything manually is extremely easy. To the lamebrain who mentioned that on this little quote-unquote "forum"? Up yours!

My favorite news story today was from the secretary of the regiment or whatever organizational unit it was. "The memo was fake" (because she didn't type it herself) "but what it said was basically correct."

Well, duh!

Posted by: George Girton at September 15, 2004 2:53 AM | Permalink

Many bemoan the events which arise that distract from "the issues"

To many otheers, especially post-911, the character of the candidate is the most important issue

On 9-11, no amount of previous issue answers would have forecast the behavior of the President on that day.

In general, the policy proclamations of a person of poor character are worthless.

Hence I see it as no accident that Americans have focused on these contorversies. The old formula is just that - an old formula, an idealized discussion where people on pillars hold intellectual dscussions on the details of Medicare, or whatever.

The American people, moreso that the elite it would appear, are concerned about what our wartime president will do in the fog and uncertainty of wsr, and the suddenness of an unexpected, massive violent attack on our homeland.

Posted by: John Moore at September 15, 2004 3:21 AM | Permalink

I have been following the election coverage in the blogosphere (from far away in Stockholm) on my blog recently, and the results are not encouraging.

When I ran some Technorati searches on Monday, (an admittedly unscientific sampling of the issues) the lack of any real discussion of "issues" was stricking. A Technorati search for "Killian" reveals that there has been 732 posts about the latest Bush service controversy in the last 7 days. Similarly, there has been 862 posts relating to the now defunct "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" affair, 2683 posts with the word "character" in it, 2214 posts for "Vietnam," and 1575 with the word "polls."

By way of contrast, there has only been 503 posts matching "immigration", 462 posts registering the term "unemployment," 68 matching "uninsured", 145 for "No Child Left Behind", and oddly enough only 373 for "assault weapons" even though the ban lapsed Monday.

I agree with Jarvis in that it is time to see what the blogs can do; and that must related to the blogs' ability to set a new agenda for public discourse.

They can perhaps bring about incremental change, but more often than not I fear that they stengthen the social legitmacy of the celebrity-driven coverage of presidential elections.

Posted by: Daniel Kreiss at September 15, 2004 4:24 AM | Permalink

Two things strike me as significant in this post, Jay. The first is the Bakersfield editor's decision exercise his editorial discretion in favor of substance over slime. What's significant about it is that it's controversial. It ought to be about as controversial as scraping your windshield clean of crap after you rear-end a manure truck, so you can, like, see something other than crap.

The other is Kerry's refusal to engage casually with reporters, which I think is a result of his inability to speak in sound bites. Bush comes pre-edited; except when he's rhapsodizing about gynecologists or some such, all he is is a walking soundbite. Kerry speaks in complex sentences and paragraphs. He knows what he says will be pared down, often to the point that it doesn't resemble at all what he actually said. So why bother? When he's in a setting, such as a campaign event or the convention, where he's speaking directly to the people he wants to reach, he's fine. Outside those arenas, he cannot trust the press and he cannot risk the sort of thing that happened with his "anti-war" statement on Hardball. So he has to depend on his advertising and his more brevity-conscious surrogates to do his talking.

Both instances are symptoms of bad journalism. The Bakersfield guy is attempting to mkae amends for it, and Kerry is trying to steer clear of it.

Another point I'd like to make is that while some of the furor over Rather's documents is justified, it's been blown way out of proportion. I thought he should have resigned after the BBC interview in which he admitted to self-censoring himself, and by implication the journalists he controls, in the wake of 911. That's a greater sin than getting jobbed on some documents that didn't do much to advance the related story anyway; it was more stupid to spend a lot of time on that piece than it was to get sucked in by forgeries, if they are that.

And let's face it: if Rather is obligated to fall on his sword for this transgression, a whole host of administration luminaries should be impaled by now for the somewhat more consequential failure to recognize the Iraq-Niger documents as forgeries and the continuing reliance on them as war fodder even after they were discredited.

As for Dr. Reynolds and his "fix it in the edit" theory, I'd remark that his credibility is pretty much restricted to an ideological cohort willing to forgive him his screwups. You don't see a lot of conservatives jumping on Drudge either, despite his steep ratio of misses to hits. Reynolds' point about acknowleding mistakes is well taken, but when it happens with numbing frequency, it loses its nobility. The solution is to do good work, not constantly apologize for bad.

And finally, I will light upon my pet obsession again. The impact of assaultive bloggers upon the mainstream press is negligible in comparison with the damage the press do to themselves, not only through their failure to master the process of good journalism, but in their failure to accurately evaluate their own performance.

They deal with the immeasurably attractive subject of themselves by indulging in an annual orgy of self-criticism around the end of every year. They discuss with one another the particulars of how they screwed their readers: too much emphasis on this story, not enough on that, behind the curve on another, led by their credulous noses on these. They heave a collective languorous sigh, absolve themselves, light up a smoke and promise they'll respect us in the morning, and then off they go on another year-long bender.

Bloggers can't really challenge that failing. Very few bloggers who aren't already journalists are in a position to gather news. The flood of commentary on the CBS documents served only to amplify the stupidity of mainstream journalism; it won't do a thing to correct it because, on the whole, journalists don't even pay attention to criticism from people they know, let alone from some schlub on a blog. It's a problem that predates blogging and that even what ought to be the most influential blogs, such as Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk, run by the Pulitzer Prize-winning, former managing editor of the Philladelphia Inquirer, seem to have a minimal impact upon.

I'll leave you with a quote indicative of the scope of the problem. I extracted a few choice ones from the AJR piece on how the press managed to ignore the Abu Ghraib scandal. Here's the New York Times' Bill Keller:

"Any honest editor will give you the same answer. It's the [Abu Ghraib torture] pictures; that's what did it [got the attention of Keller and the Times]. But it shouldn't require visual drama to make us pay attention to something like this."
That's a an astonishing remark to hear from someone with going on forty years of experience in the field. A fair number of bloggers did pick up on the early press reports of problems in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they didn't generate the mass hysteria that the CBS broadcast on Bush did. There's both an explanation for that and a possible remedy, but that's for a later date.

Posted by: weldon berger at September 15, 2004 6:05 AM | Permalink

[Puffing up with pride] When I first saw we immediately bought the column for our newspaper [an early adopter] -- even though Spinsanity regularly hammers candidates with policies we endorse. We did it because:

  • Our readers need to learn to defend themselves against manipulative rhetoric and don't learn how in school, and
  • The candidates have to learn not to do it.
Another point: Looking back, Nelson Rockefeller spent tons of money on issue position papers. He lost. Sound positions on issues were not as persuasive to voters.

My interpretation of the Rocky lesson? Core failure in schools. Many teachers don't understand the art of teaching or why they are there. Oh, yes, they match the required curriculum, but learning to think is incidental to it.

Too many people are rolling down the information superhighway of thought on under-inflated tires. They can recite cant and advertising jingles that pass for knowledge, and woe be to he who suggests there is more to thought than that. They fill blog comments with factual trivia and smug insults, but mastery of the Trivium is beyond their ken.

Whew! I feel better already. ;-)

Posted by: sbw at September 15, 2004 8:48 AM | Permalink


It is not simply those on the information superhighway who have under-inflated tires.

Dan Rather's defense of his story on the memos seems to ignore the Trivium entirely.

Posted by: Ernest Miller at September 15, 2004 9:09 AM | Permalink


Neither candidate can speak extemporaneously. I think you are being far too kind to Kerry--his "complex sentences and paragraphs" are frequently a sign that he has limited experience saying anything outside a machine-controlled state. Too often Kerry's answers turn out to be, "I would of course have done everything the same that worked and everything different that didn't work"--i.e. backseat driving.

The other day he was spluttering to a crowd about visiting "" or "" or, you know, some site where you could find out the truth about things (he didn't seem sure what he was talking abut) and it was, as with Bush, a sad spectacle (these guys graduated from Yale). It's interesting that the television age hasn't given us candidates who are all glib super-gabbers like Clinton--most stick to a script that you could teach a 14 year old. At some point you wonder if English is even a requirement for the job. (Of all the candidates, only Cheney sounds like he could actually engage in articulate conversation without panicking. To be blunt, Kerry sounds like an older version of Dan Quayle to me, utterly out of his depth once he gets to the edge of territory his advisors have covered with him.)

There has been no shortage of gaffes from Kerry since he's stopped talking to his press minders. He is after all still speaking at an enormous variety of events, one after another. So why stonewall? And why be as petty about it as the pool reports are showing? Jay was calling attention to the fact that Kerry doesn't think he needs the press to help him at this point. Worse, Kerry risks irritating the gang of 500, which will probably respond with greater disillusionment in the candidate. I think it is remarkable that Kerry has not been able to get the press on his side this year. They certainly aren't on Bush's side.

Posted by: Brian at September 15, 2004 10:17 AM | Permalink

Jeff Jarvis is beginning to compile a collection of references to the CBS/Killian memo episode that, whichever way this ends, will be worth recording for journalism school posterity.

Posted by: sbw at September 15, 2004 11:04 AM | Permalink

Campaign Puzzler: How the Press Comes Out with a Win

If a newsroom boss had walked into a conference room a year ago and asked a team of political journalists, gathered to plan their election coverage, "how can we come out with a win in 2004?" I am reasonably sure that puzzled glances would have been exchanged around the table... (The conclusion to this post I made a separate post.)

So let me get this straight. (He might have said.) When you have lost during the campaign you absolutely know it. I come to this meeting to ask you how we can win in 2004, and the question doesn't even make sense. That's unaffordable. It may be part of our legacy, but we cannot afford it as part of our practice anymore. Agenda-less journalism has gone the way of the punchcard system...

Posted by: Jay Rosen at September 15, 2004 11:51 AM | Permalink

Intersting that in a post about media figures being spun you include (largely uncritically) comments from three of the worst dissemblers around: Reynolds, Sullivan and Podhoretz.

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at September 15, 2004 1:31 PM | Permalink

Re Jeff Jarvis. He complained bitterly about the bloggers & press slinging obfuscating "mud" by pursuing the CBS forgeries. (9/10 "It's all about mud. I don't care about the mud.") Now, however, he has an op-ed assignment and is legitimately and no doubt for pay covering the whole trajectory of the thing, with no acknowledgement of a volte-face.

I think it's more interesting to watch what people *want* to talk about, than to declare what they should want to talk about, however Elie Wiesel deplores in French the American press' inability to produce "an authentic and superior national debate."

The electorate may be wiser watching the candidates in action on a basic primate level, than pretending to have mastered all the wonkish implications of immigration policy.

If the blogosphere is obsessed by the forgeries, then there's something very important to them there about the campaign. I'm not sure it's "character" so much as "how can the non-insider [citizen, voter] orient himself in this hall of mirrors monopolized by MSM?"

A profound and legitimate political-science question, deeper than and prior to policy dispute.

Posted by: A Hunny at September 15, 2004 2:12 PM | Permalink

Ivor the engine driver off


rails again.

Posted by: Lee at September 15, 2004 2:27 PM | Permalink


Newsflash, gang, and it's amazing that this has to be stated. All of this wrangling over issues and their lack of discussion is crazy. This supposed lack of discussion in this Presidential race only indicates your ultimate disconnect. Jeff Jarvis has definitely missed it.

There is but one issue in this election. Maybe the gang of 500 will figure that out by meeting-time, maybe not.

National security.

Now, had the crazy ass Democrats (and I was one until a few months ago) not politicized the War in Iraq AND BEEN AS TOUGH AS BUSH ON THAT ISSUE -- well, there would be multiple issues in this race. But they made a fatal mistake -- one might say an un-American one. And they deserve every bit of electoral punishment they are certainly about to receive.

Posted by: RattlerGator at September 15, 2004 2:30 PM | Permalink

Blogger media is to legacy media what desktop publishing was to legacy publishing. Technology previously available to a highly paid guild was made available to anyone with talent and a computer. The Bloggers seem to be unpaid but that can't last. The structure of web information profit is an open question. I doubt there are many Web Loggers willing to pay for information to the same extent they are willing to pay for books on It is our cultural bias that places less value on ideas and abstract thoughts than material products.

Posted by: Dennis A Shanelec at September 15, 2004 2:51 PM | Permalink

Let's not lose sight of the fact that there is one main reason that "Rathergate" has blown up: it shows in graphic, sickening detail what we have known all along, namely, that Rather and other "MSM" sources are ridiculously biased.

It is very sad that some might conclude from the memo scandal that, "as everybody knows," there is no such thing as objective news reporting. There is, but it requires careful thought and explicit attention to fairness to all sides of an issue. This is something that most reporters are not trained in, much less care about; but that doesn't mean there's no such thing as objective news reporting. It only means that Dan and his generation (and their followers) aren't capable of it.

Personally I think that this will point up a CRYIN' need for an AVOWEDLY objective news source. Which, when installed and properly tested and vetted, will dominate the news marketplace (whatever it looks like) and render the Rathers of the world irrelevant.

Posted by: MediaCritic at September 15, 2004 3:18 PM | Permalink

As a former minor member of the newspaper industry as an editor and reporter, I've always believed in what many decry as a cliche: our media is but a mirror. When we see a news media that is short on ethics and long on mindless bias, we are simply viewing two of the dominating characteristics of American society.

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at September 15, 2004 3:33 PM | Permalink

It is always fascinating to me to hear members of the MSM and journalism professors opine on the failure to address “the real issues.” I can practically hear the “real” issues being framed:

• Poverty, and the government programs to deal with it.
• Education, and the government programs to improve it.
• Crime, and the government programs to reduce it.
• Jobs, and the government programs to create them.
• Health care, and the way the government is going to manage it.
• Religion, and the need to erect a higher wall between religious “fundies” and the government.
• Immigration, and the government programs to take care of the “undocumented immigrants.”
• Taxes and the way the government should raise them to pay for all the programs that we desperately need.

Well, you get the idea.

The press is really looking for a debate between Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.

What the MSM cannot see is that we are looking for someone who shares our values. The values that a candidate holds dear are revealed, not in committee-written policy statements, but in smaller things. Is the candidate given to bragging about his bravery? Real heroes never do. How has he voted on the issues we care about? Does he believe in more freedom or more control? Can he laugh at himself? Do we know where he stands? If he lies about little things, can he be trusted not to lie about big things? What did the candidate say the last time we were in the middle of a war, and do we agree with what he said at the time?

We are looking for character clues, not policy prescriptions. The best of plans change, see 9/11. If there are no crises, it really does not matter too much who is President because we are not electing a dictator. But in times of crisis, character matters. And we are learning a lot about the candidates’ character at this time. And, by the way, we are learning a great deal about the MSM.

Posted by: Moneyrunner at September 15, 2004 4:07 PM | Permalink

I am wondering whether the media navel gazing is missing the story entirely, as RG pointed out above.

The issue was National Security, and the voters are making (have already made?) up their minds on that already.

But what is very clear, as Podhertz pointed out, is that 5 years ago, CBS probably could have got away with it. They almost did with Westmoreland, and the earlier feature they did on Vietnam Vets. (Why does this always seem come back to Vietnam?)

That is just not going to be possible anymore.

One now sees experts putting up web pages in their own names, offering explanations and proofs for why they made their conclusions, in a fashion that one cannot easily dismiss as opinion as one can dismiss George Girton's opinion above. (C'mon, George, did you even try to compare anything, say like that guy over at Little Green Footballs did?)

Posted by: Eric Blair at September 15, 2004 4:22 PM | Permalink


People who feel the need to publicly brandish their supposed intellectual superiority should resist the impulse.

Tearing others down != Lifting yourself up.

Best Regards,

Posted by: It's All Semantics at September 15, 2004 5:09 PM | Permalink

Moneyrunner had the best comment of all:

"The press is really looking for a debate between Ted Kennedy and John Kerry."

Most of the electorate wants a candidate for president who has sound judgement, especially when the country is attacked.

We also don't want leaders who assume we are too stupid to take care of ourselves and who want to undermine our capitalist economic system and our freedoms (for our own good, of course). We have well-honed BS detectors from decades of living and react badly to candidates who talk one way and live another.

You won't need lenghty symposia of journalists to dissect this election. The 500 can climb down from their ivory towers and talk to educated members of the middle class to reacquaint themselves with their fellow countrymen and the values they hold dear.

Posted by: Margaret at September 16, 2004 12:40 PM | Permalink

Here's an idea, building on Margaret's comment:

Don't meet at Harvard. Or NYC.

Meet in Chicago. Meet in Arizona or even Pennsylvania. How 'bout macon yer way down South, y'all?

Maybe venue influences perspective?

What are the Gang of 500 telling us by meeting at Hah-vaard? What does the name - Gang of 500 - say? Some Forbesian mafia?

Coffee? Thanks!

Posted by: Tim at September 16, 2004 1:54 PM | Permalink

We do NOT need to fear, only fear -- we need to fear terrorists. In this, the terrorists have already won, a bit. The Dems do NOT seem to fear terrorists; and it seems to most folk that until the terrorists are SUCCESSFUL at getting, and using, a WMD, the Dems won't fear them.

Beslan renewed my fear; my fear of inhumane, anti-Christian, anti-human rights terrorists, who want to impose Sharia on the world.

When Bush-haters tell me my fear is because of Bush, I know they are wrong. Kerry doesn't make me feel safe -- the last time the USA took his leadership, leaving Vietnam, we got peace; peace AND Killing Fields.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 17, 2004 8:12 AM | Permalink

A word about terminology.

The usage of "legacy" as a semi-synonym for "old-fashioned" originates with the software and computer business, specifically with Microsoft. When they began making the transition that ended up as XP, they were faced with the problem that many users did not see the point in replacing software and hardware that was serving them adequately and whose replacements were expensive. They thus had to continue to support at least some subset of that software and hardware.

DOS compatible programs and ISA/EISA compatible hardware were the big problem, because they didn't fit with the new Windows system (cynics say that that was because the new Windows system gave Microsoft more control and therefore more profit.) Compromises had to be made to allow "legacy" software and hardware to continue to operate, and many of those compromises reduced either the performance of the new equipment or the degree to which Microsoft could dictate standards, or both.

So in that context, "legacy" means not only "old-fashioned" or "old-style," it also means "in the way of further development" or "obstacle to progress." A person who thinks the "legacy Media" have some role in the future probably shouldn't be using that phrase.

Ric Locke

Posted by: Ric Locke at September 17, 2004 2:40 PM | Permalink

Works for me.

Posted by: David St Lawrence at September 29, 2004 8:50 PM | Permalink

Banned Poster. The comment poster sometimes called "ami" is also known as "Paul Lukasiak," who claims to be the author of this site. "Paul Lukasiak" was banned from PressThink in 2005 for abusive comments, one of only three to have earned that distinction since September 2003. Refusing to accept this decision, "he" returned as someone else, using a woman's name. Rather than another round of banning and phony identity construction, we are currently trying other solutions and this was recommended. "ami" is a banned poster who insists that his (her) rights overrride our decisions. We thought you'd like to know that.

Posted by: Site Administrator at October 14, 2004 2:06 PM | Permalink

From the Intro