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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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October 2, 2004

Newsroom Joe Hates Bloggers: Nick Coleman's Classic Hit

"A stupid piece of writing cannot become a genre classic unless it is aggressively stupid, or stupid with great purpose, high flourish, true style. I think everyone who clicked a link and read Coleman's hit piece on bloggers saw it as a potential classic right away. I mean the ending alone, in which the writer says he is baffled..."

In its brief, tense and comic history, the type of op-ed essay where journalists dump on bloggers reached a spectacular new low, or, if you enjoy the comedy of this pattern, a new high recently in Nick Coleman’s diss-the-bloggers column, which, like it or hate it, has style. Newsroom bully baroque. (Previous examples here and here.)

Coleman’s Blogged down in Web fantasy (I love the meaningless title, like a pop song) has already become a hit among bloggers for the clarity of its intentions. (Published in the Star-Tribune, Sep. 29, 2004.) Coleman goes for the really big put downs, stylishly done. “Do bloggers have the credentials of real journalists?” They do not, he says.

“Bloggers are hobby hacks, the Internet version of the sad loners who used to listen to police radios in their bachelor apartments and think they were involved in the world.”

What an image. The misfit who develops an interest in the public world because everyone in his personal life rejects him. The loser. The loner with his scanner thinking he’s law enforcement. That’s who bloggers are, according to Coleman, who has the boys from PowerLine in his district.

His column is also a warning to area residents. “We are not dealing with journalism, people.” Look where these bloggers come from. “We are dealing with Internet chat rooms: sleazy and unreliable, with no accountability.” Maybe not subhuman, the creatures found there, but sub-journalist for sure. “Most bloggers are not fit to carry a reporter’s notebook.”

On the reporter’s notebook his motion for final judgment rests: “I covered Minneapolis City Hall, back when Republicans controlled the City Council. I have reported from almost every county in the state, I have covered murders, floods, tornadoes, World Series and six governors.” And the closer:

“In other words, I didn’t just blog this stuff up at midnight.”

For me the funniest part of Coleman’s column was the way he wrote it knowing he was to get ripped by the bloggers he was ridiculing. It’s the Struck a Nerve Fantasy in opinion writing. I’m sure some of you recognize it.

X publishes something graceless and unconvincing, but extremely polemical. Everyone hates it because it’s bad writing. Friends of the argument are not friends of the piece. So X has almost no defenders. The reactions come in. X’s piece gets ripped because it’s aggressive, mean and wrong.

But X walks away satisfied: looks like I struck a nerve, says X to self. And the greater the hostility back, the bigger the nerve struck!

This is Coleman’s fantasy. He wrote it to be insulting and to get insulted back. Of course it worked. That’s what so funny about it. It always works. Next time you see that phrase, “looks like I struck a nerve,” think of Nick Coleman.

“Bloggers don’t know about anything that happened before they sat down to share their every thought with the moon. Like graffiti artists, they tag the public square.”

A stupid piece of writing cannot become a classic unless it is aggressively stupid, or stupid with great purpose, high flourish. I think everyone who clicked a link and read Coleman’s hit piece on bloggers saw it as a potential classic right away. I mean the ending alone, in which the writer says he is baffled…

So, how is it that nakedly partisan bloggers who make things up left and right are gaining street cred while the mainstream media, which spend a lot of time criticizing themselves, are under attack?

Yeah… how come? Check into that phrase “street cred.” What does it mean? It’s actually a reference to his journalism colleagues, who might currently be granting some credibility to bloggers. Especially those they find themselves reading. More and more journalists have the blog habit, after all. Coleman’s baffled by them. (Here’s one; here’s another.) More baffled after he wrote his column than before.

Reading his own writing, how could he cope with an announcement like the one NPR’s ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin, gave five days before Coleman’s Big Diss: “First, we must acknowledge that the blogs have truly arrived,” said Dvorkin, who isn’t some creature from an Internet chat room. “It is hard for journalists who have led a sheltered life without public accountability to acknowledge that those days are over.”

And that’s where Nick Coleman’s imagination failed him. To him, blogs “are to journalism what ticks are to elephants.” The guy in his basement with the scanner has shown up at the crime scene and he’s now getting in the way of the cops and the journalists who cover cops. That’s how Coleman sees the bloggers. It’s impossible for him to imagine how he might have a sheltered view of anything. “They hate me because I know stuff,” Coleman thinks.

But one thing he doesn’t know is that his column belongs to an era in newspaper opinion writing when it was possible to compose 972 words condemning a class of objects and never name a single one of those objects (let alone link to one). That’s a low editorial standard routinely surpassed by bloggers, but the Star Tribune says no problem, we still do the zero examples hit piece here.

Dvorkin’s message was a very sober one. “We need to make room on the bench and give the bloggers a place at the dinner table.” Coleman says there will be no place at my table for them. Journalistically speaking, these people are lowly, they are filth, and many of them are crazy.

I know you probably read it once. But read it again. Nick Coleman’s Blogged down in Web fantasy. A classic in the old newsoom reactionary style. May the url live on and on.

UPDATE, Dec. 17: No such luck! The Coleman url has died— an intentional thing. Some day when investigators are going over the crash site for newspaper journalism this kind of message might seem significant: “File not found. The page you requested could not be found. It may have been moved; more likely it has been removed from our servers. Most articles are automatically purged from’s free news database after three weeks. Exceptions include obituaries, recipes and movie reviews.”

Posted by Jay Rosen at October 2, 2004 12:33 AM   Print


Coleman's column--a good example of generalization, unsupported assertions, and straw man argument, is an example of why journalists get no respect.

What bloggers is he talking about? I regularly read Press Think, Talking Points, Informed Comment, Eschaton, Political Animal, and frequently visit others when they are linked from the foregoing. Some of these blogs are written by journalists, some not.

There might be plenty of trash blogs out there, but I don't bother with them. I have little enough free time as it is. But if I wanted to make a case for blogs over mainstream journalism, I could mention FOX News and its host of trash TV 'pundits', as well as a slew of other former speechwriters who now pose as mainstream journalists (Mona Charen and Diane Sawyer come to mind immediately).

To state what should be obvious to Coleman: lumping working journos with celebrities and wannabes like Sawyer and Charen would be like, well, what Coleman does to serious bloggers.

Then there are people like Bob Novak, who apparently never met a dollar bill he wouldn't rather have than any shred of integrity. Are there others? You bet. And none of them ever saw a chat room or blog in their lives.

Anybody remember W R Hearst and the Spanish-American War? Don't tell me about bloggers.

Posted by: Jon Koppenhoefer at October 3, 2004 1:00 AM | Permalink

Jay: Half-joking, half-serious, suggestion: You're a colleague, point him to your blog (err, perhaps not this post!)

I suspect he's been reading the wingnuts, which would account for his reaction.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at October 3, 2004 1:41 AM | Permalink

I do not know how to answer Coleman.

He is right. Bloggers are a gnat on an elephant's ass: if you compare tons of dead trees and gallons of ink.

He is wrong: if you compare investigative capabilities or multiple points of view. Does anyone remember the old journalistic exhortation of "give voice to those who do not have a voice?"

He is right. He has knowledge. By virtue of having reporting on the same scene, he has experience; year after year.

He is wrong. In business, as in life, the same year, spent repeatedly since 1954, does not add up to 50 years of experience. It adds up to one year, repeated.

He is right: the preponderance of bloggers are undisciplined and unsourced. Junk.

He is wrong: so are journalists.

Where do we go from here?

Posted by: John Lynch at October 3, 2004 1:46 AM | Permalink

Coleman's piece fits another genre--confused dinosaur puzzled at all the mammals scurrying about underfoot.

It isn't so much reporters vs. bloggers as senile has-been vs. modernity. Coleman regularly writes the kind of drivel that could only be written by an insulated local columnist who hasn't exercised an intellectual muscle in years. His beef isn't really with bloggers, it's with anyone who doesn't consider him and his perspective relevant (which is practically everyone).

Coleman hasn't held a journalist's notepad in 20 years. He isn't a "working journo". His self-definition as one is a pose, like some aging diva who persists in believing that she can fill the theater with anyone but fans of camp drama.

Don't stop with his weird ramble about bloggers. Read his backlog of columns. They are an example of the extreme conservatism of many newspapers, which keep old duffs like Coleman on the payroll years after their sell-by dates.

Coleman is also bitter as the fortunes of the state DFL party continue to swirl around the sides of the urinal. So his bitterness mixes with the mediocrity of his talents and produces stuff like this. Fun to jeer at, the way schoolboys jeer at ridiculous looking old men.

Posted by: Brian at October 3, 2004 5:06 AM | Permalink

I've noticed a change lately in the way Big3 media staffers are reacting to bloggers in my personal contacts. I'm used to a dismissive attitude on their part, but some recent contacts have been outright hostile. (Unrelated to the project mentioned below, BTW.) Even stranger, my local paper published an editorial the other day on the Dan Rather flap that never mentioned blogs at all!

I'm probably also ruffling some feathers here and there with my citizen's media project at one of my blogs. Setting the subject matter aside, what's important here is the way I'm doing it.

I have several news alerts set up from Google, Yahoo, Bloglines, PubSub, and Bloglines. When these come in, links to the stories go on the blog, and they're rated as to whether they reflect, in my opinion, disinformation or progress in the field. Whenever contact information is available, I e-mail the paper or reporter direct and either thank them for their balanced coverage or simply inform them of my project, with a diplomatic explanation on the whys and wherefores.

I'm encouraging my readers to contact their local media when they see them pop up at the blog, and express their own opinions. I'm also linking back to other blogs, both pro and con on our issue, same as Big3 stories and have both sets of viewpoints linked in the gutters.

It's too early to tell what impact this is or will be having. I expect to run the project through the month of October, to give it a reasonable chance to work. I do know I've had almost 8000 direct visits to the site in the past ten days or so, and of course who knows how many reading in aggregators! As far as I know, nobody else has done this before. I think it's a pretty efficient way to run an activist project, especially from the standpoint of someone who doesn't have legions of volunteers or lots of funding. The idea could probably be put to use by any non-profit or activist group, which is why I bring it up.

Posted by: Trudy W. Schuett at October 3, 2004 8:58 AM | Permalink

The Ying to Coleman's Yang would be the 411blog.

Posted by: Tim at October 3, 2004 9:51 AM | Permalink

I have found that alot of news people
use the word controvirsy in place of word Blogs

Posted by: Luetta at October 3, 2004 11:19 AM | Permalink

For whatever it's worth (I'm certain it's worth little to him), this is the email I felt compelled to send to Coleman after his peice appeared:

Perhaps one of the reasons for tensions between the world of weblogs and the world of journalism is that so many people on both sides engage in intellectually-lazy generalizations such as the above (which, irony of ironies, comes across as precisely the vicious and vacuous tripe you're railing against).
Large portions of the local political world here in Portland read my site, as do large portions of the local media. In addition to being profiled by The Oregonian for what I do, I've been cited both by them and by the Portland Tribune in the course of actual news stories. I have sources. I work for confirmation. I have a double set of principles (one for journalism, one for weblogs) that is posted publicly on my site (something, for what it's worth, newspapers don't do) which I strive to follow. I've spent who knows how many hundreds of hours in the past year and a half at City Council sessions, neighborhood meetings, candidate forums and debates.
Just this minute I'm pursuing a story that's aching to be told but haven't blogged it yet because I don't have it firmly locked down enough with the information I currently have -- is that not a standard of journalism as well?
So perhaps you should go back and notice that the invective you're hurling against blogging is (1) an over-broad generalization and (2) nearly a carbon copy of the type of writing you criticize blogs for engaging in.

Disclaimer: I'm well aware this email simply vanished into the black hole of Coleman's mindset.

Posted by: The One True b!X at October 3, 2004 1:48 PM | Permalink

Some blogs are good, some are bad. Which ones is he talking about?

And please, who are the idiots who think blogging is a substitute for reporting? It's clearly a supplement for things that can be googled, but mostly another outlet for punditry. It shouldn't be a threat at all.

Posted by: praktike at October 3, 2004 2:01 PM | Permalink

And please, who are the idiots who think blogging is a substitute for reporting?

Yeah, and who are these idiots who think using a pen is a substitute for reporting?

Posted by: The One True b!X at October 3, 2004 2:26 PM | Permalink

Getting to my point above, Coleman is no longer a reporter (I have no idea if he was ever a good one), so it's not a reporter who is feeling threatened, it's a pundit. It should be obvious why they're threatened, especially the ones who visibly model their work after a fifty year old local column template.

Posted by: Brian at October 3, 2004 2:40 PM | Permalink

Jay ...

I emailed Coleman the day his column came out with some "facts" to help the "professional" journalist in him see things another way. The facts were a list of people who have -- or still do -- carried a reporter's notebook and blog.

I post the email on First Draft here. I'm sure others could augment this list.

Another big media, small perspective moment.



Posted by: Tim Porter at October 3, 2004 4:45 PM | Permalink

Jay ...

I emailed Coleman the day his column came out with some "facts" to help the "professional" journalist in him see things another way. The facts were a list of people who have carried -- or still do -- a reporter's notebook and blog.

I post the email on First Draft here. I'm sure others could augment this list.

I haven't heard anything back from him.



Posted by: Tim Porter at October 3, 2004 4:47 PM | Permalink

What's especially amusing is not that a lot of bloggers got worked up over Coleman's piece... but how many bloggers don't even bother with him.

I have said too much already. *yawns*


Posted by: A.R.Yngve at October 3, 2004 4:48 PM | Permalink

FWIW, Coleman was responding to some local rightwing bloggers who have, in traditional wingnut fashion, confused "humor" with repeated savage trashings of Coleman's column and person. I don't think Coleman really is well acquainted with the Internet or blogosphere, and it's certainly not part of his beat.

I've feuded with some of the bloggers he was criticizing, and, frankly, they're not very principled. They belong to the "fisking" school of wingnuttery, and argue to win without regard for the truth. In short, they are hard right bloggers who take no prisoners.

Powerline, which has incomprehensibly become a heroic blog to many on the right, is a couple of local wingnuts (a banker and a lawyer) who fell into the Typegate thing at the right time and somehow came out of that manufactured brouhaha with a rep for nailing Rather's hide to the wall.

Uh, well actually, they went off on how they and their friends had proven the memos were done in MS Word, an allegation that hasn't held up well at all. But do read They are partisan hacks, and have a long-standing "war" with Coleman's Star Tribune that is quite one-sided (they do all the yelling, the Strib has all the facts). But their own posts reveal them far better than I can.

Coleman's ripe for criticism on this, but if you know the local score, it's not hard to see where he's coming from. His personal life has been ripped and mocked, and he's taken no end of abuse and fisking. If I were him, I'd be pissed too.

Posted by: Mark Gisleson at October 3, 2004 5:42 PM | Permalink

WOW Mark, You could carry Nick Coleman's notebook! The rest of your post seems to have little regard for the truth.

Posted by: Lee at October 3, 2004 6:26 PM | Permalink

Quick, fact check Mark Gisleson's ass.

Calls Tom Friedman a "war whore", "opinionated jackass" and "complete tool".

Quick check of his blog: Mark belongs to the "fisking" school of wingnuttery, and argues to win without regard for the truth. In short, he is a hard left blogger who takes no prisoners.

Truth Alert: Power Line on Nick Coleman

Posted by: Tim at October 3, 2004 6:47 PM | Permalink

Well, half and half. Look, it's not like Nick Coleman suddenly woke up one morning and said "Gee, what'll I do for a column today? I know! I'll rant about bloggers and their failings ...". He's got a view which is shaped by some right-wing attacks. That seems indisputable.

To mix some metaphors, he's painting with too broad a brush, but it's understandable given how he's been tarred.

And there *are* people who get ... exuberant ... about the prospect of replacing professional journalists with outsourced, cheap, opinion discussions - for many reasons.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at October 3, 2004 6:54 PM | Permalink

I've had a political / media crit blog in Memphis for several years, named "Half-Bakered" after a local political writer. About a year in, he apparently discovered it and wrote to me. We've converesed in email a time or two and he once helped me with a serious post I did about our local Congressman. He's always had a varying degree of condescension toward me, and been pretty merciless in his opinion of how "clued in" I am.

In his paper's recent "Best of Memphis" issue, he finally wrote a short column on my now-closed blog! The tone and language speak for themselves.

A local television news reporter who also runs an informative "behind the scenes" blog, Darrell Phillips, had a post on the article, too.

It's interesting to note that neither of these articles appears to have generated any traffic to the site. That's common with Memphis print media mentions. Local or other blog mentions *always* generate hits. Make of that what you will.

Posted by: mike hollihan at October 3, 2004 7:01 PM | Permalink

Just as the attorney who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer, the journalist who writes about himself has a fool for a reporter.

Mr. Coleman may have had something to say but certainly the wrong person said it. Obviously the wrong person said it. He failed expressing everything except his anger.

What do you suppose he was trying to say? Who can say it clearly for him?

Posted by: sbw at October 3, 2004 7:26 PM | Permalink

"The local bloggers who went after me have really low standards, and they hate me because I am in no one's pocket." That's my guess, SBW.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 3, 2004 7:33 PM | Permalink

"And I'm going to write a column to prove that the local bloggers are right."

Posted by: Ernest Miller at October 3, 2004 7:40 PM | Permalink

Well, I hope the immediate response my earlier post got helped to make my point about the wingnut problem here in Minnesota.

I have no interest in defending Coleman's column, but I thought it only fair to explain where he was coming from. The Star Tribune in general gets hammered by rightwing local bloggers 24/7. Ironically, checking Powerline I see they've cooled down the rhetoric in last couple of days. Still it's interesting that the "truth alert" takes you to a search page that also reveals a link to a Powerline post-mortem cheap shot at Paul Wellstone.

If you recall the national sh*tstorm over Wellstone's funeral, well, say hello to the people who helped make that happen.

Coleman was out of line, but given his years of serious journalistic work, I think it's unfair to cheapshot him for overreacting to a crowd that's worked very hard to set him off like this. They have caught him in some mistakes, but they've also commented at length about his wife and other things that should be out of bounds.

Posted by: Mark Gisleson at October 3, 2004 11:55 PM | Permalink

Okay, Mark. When you say, "there's a history here," that is totally on point. The column comes from somewhere, and we're coming in the middle of the movie if we just look at this one text. Fair enough.

But why didn't he write a column about Twin Cities bloggers or something, or just take on his critics? Why swerve into an assessment of the bloggers overall, and blogging as a form? And why the associations with lowlifes and misfits, images he introduced with writerly flair?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 4, 2004 12:38 AM | Permalink

But why didn't he write a column about Twin Cities bloggers or something, or just take on his critics? Why swerve into an assessment of the bloggers overall, and blogging as a form? And why the associations with lowlifes and misfits, images he introduced with writerly flair?

Because journalists are lazy?

Oh no, wait. That's an overbroad generalization. Sorry.

Alternatively, it could be that journalists are human, and sometimes run off at the mouth in ways that come back to bite them. Oddly, I suppose what his column proves is that editors are not the magic bullet of keeping journalists on target that other various critics of blogs say they are.

Posted by: The One True b!X at October 4, 2004 2:13 AM | Permalink

"Well, I hope the immediate response my earlier post got helped to make my point about the wingnut problem here in Minnesota."

Oh, the irony. Not that you would see it, Mark. (You are to CARRY Nick's notebook, not COPY it.)

Posted by: Lee at October 4, 2004 3:49 AM | Permalink

Jay, again I'm not trying to defend Coleman's column, and if I didn't feel so sorry about the crap he's been taking, I'd probably be taking a few shots too. As I said, not all the previous flak he's caught has been unfair. Like many journalists who become columnists, he has gotten a little lazier and less careful with his facts.

FWIW, I'm about as opinionated as a news-based blog gets, and anyone who followed my link found me at my most opinionated this weekend while Powerline was on their best behavior. At one point during the typegate debate Powerline and I both ran heavy excerpts from a salient Boston Globe article. Between us we excerpted damn near the whole thing, but without one word of overlap between us. But, being a good liberal, I then linked to Powerline with a note as to how unscrupulous bloggers slant the news with selective excerpts.

I am not a faithful narrator. If I can hold my nose and vote for Kerry, I expect everyone else to as well. But I don't cheat. I provide links for readers who want to know more. And I don't get personal unless the person in question is a major public figure, and even then there has to be quite a bit of hypocrisy involved.

While I would love to be a public figure, I doubt anyone here recognizes my name other than as an occasional comments thread poster. And I'm not a prolific gadfly, saving most of my energy for my blog. I'm not thin-skinned, and I'm not bothered by Tim and Lee's contributions to this thread, but I think maybe some of the rest of you should be.

Is Coleman a dick? I won't argue the point. Does he deserve to be spanked for writing a dumb column? Well, he chose to publish it.

But he doesn't deserve to be mocked day in and day out by people who don't post under their own names. And that's how the game is being played in Minnesota right now. I believe strongly in the First Amendment, but I'm tired of seeing people much less public than Nick Coleman get trashed for having written an anti-Bush letter to the editor or a post in a blog that only has 40 readers.

The Internet isn't a second-class forum anymore, and it would be nice if we were big enough to just ignore the occasional regional columnist with his undies in a bunch. We have bigger fish to fry.

Posted by: Mark Gisleson at October 4, 2004 10:52 AM | Permalink

Mary Mapes's Darkest Hour

"She [Mapes] has such a stellar reputation, I can't believe people have been so quick to question her integrity and her honorability as a journalist," Cohen says. "That's what is very dismaying to me. I feel that because of the competitive nature of our business as journalists, we're just so eager to jump on somebody who might stumble -- or is perceived to have stumbled. I just think of it as turning around to eat our young."
The press regularly questions the integrity and honorability of others all the time. Often unfairly, or wrongly, in their eagerness to jump on somebody who might stumble -- or is perceived to have stumbled. Is it only dismaying when it happens to one of your own?

Could it be more hypocritical and infuriating that the press is offended by the triumphalism of outsiders when one of thier own stumbles? Who more than the public has benefitted from exposing the journalistic malfeasance in the press by volunteer public citizens acting as ombudsmen?

Behold the multi-millionaires on the stage giving comfort to one of their own and afflicting the discomforted:

What I think is highly inappropriate is what going on across the Internet, a kind of political jihad ... that is quite outrageous," the NBC anchor said.
Do members of the press really think of themselves as the afflicted rather than the comfortable?

The worst that can be said of the pajama mujahideen is they find more comfortable to afflict (including each other) than afflicted to comfort.

Posted by: Tim at October 4, 2004 11:20 AM | Permalink

Mark Gisleson: I'm not thin-skinned, and I'm not bothered by Tim and Lee's contributions to this thread, but I think maybe some of the rest of you should be.

Mark, you're a classic. Perhaps you would like to slide out from under that rock of innuendo and openly state why others should be bothered by my contributions?

Perhaps, you can convince Jay that my contributions are unworthy, or even dangerous, and I'll be quieted in favor of more acceptable views.

Posted by: Tim at October 4, 2004 11:37 AM | Permalink

Jay "The local bloggers who went after me have really low standards, and they hate me because I am in no one's pocket." That's my guess...

Mark Gisleson Coleman was out of line, but given his years of serious journalistic work, I think it's unfair to cheapshot him for overreacting to a crowd that's worked very hard to set him off like this. They have caught him in some mistakes, but they've also commented at length about his wife and other things that should be out of bounds.

Then two options come to mind. Reputable bloggers can join the feeding frenzy, or they can do what bloggers do best, which is help Mr. Coleman hone his point. What local bloggers can help him?

As far as his tirade, remember that a friend is someone who, when you make an ass of yourself, realizes it is not a permanent job.

Posted by: sbw at October 4, 2004 11:49 AM | Permalink

Tim, why on earth would I want Jay to silence you?

I post under my own name and while I don't use my name in my blog (to avoid clogging up Google and making it harder to find Gisleson Writing Services, my business), my blog URL makes no secret of who I am:

If I crawled out from under a rock, it's one I've tagged repeatedly with my own name.

I think your previous post about me spoke clearly to your agenda, and your reinforcement of my blog link certainly allowed everyone to make up their own minds.

I can live with that. And if you want to argue, you have my email address. I would have sent this to you at, but I have my doubts my message would have reached you.

This isn't about me and it certainly isn't about you. Jay has made some points about Mr. Coleman, and I addressed a sidebar issue. Email me your thoughts and I'll be glad to post them — on MY blog, and not in the forum Jay has thoughtfully provided for use by people discussing what Jay has written. He is an outstanding expert in his field and I regret that I only write when I disagree with him, which is probably why I don't post here often.

Posted by: Mark Gisleson at October 4, 2004 1:08 PM | Permalink


I disagree. Coleman does need to be mocked. He's a richly deserving target. He may emit platitudes that you find sonorous every now and then, but really that's all the more reason to be disgusted with him because your arguments or principles (if you share any) become associated with his lazy, bigoted, foolish diatribes. Coleman, whose ego is apparently boundless, is in dire need of tough love, which in this case would mean repeated kicks to the ass from people that he recognizes as being of his general political stripe. He will only get worse if this tough love is not administered.

What are these "comments about his wife"? Is she as unpleasant as he is? Are they just spreading gossip? Or what? Without further clarification your charge sounds a bit like the kind of smear Coleman is fond of.

Posted by: Brian at October 4, 2004 1:29 PM | Permalink

I find it sad and disappointing that Brokaw and Jennings condemn the actions of unnamed bloggers and said nothing when CBS News stonewalled a legitimate journalistic investigation.

Is it any wonder that the level of trust for news organizations is falling?

Ultimately, they have only themselves to blame.

Posted by: Ernest Miller at October 4, 2004 1:47 PM | Permalink

It is a wonderful things to see news anchors, famous celebrities who get ten million dollars a year, talk as if they are victims of blogs. It's fun to see inflated egos pricked by many little needles.

Accountability is key. Power without consequences will corrupt. Being held accountable for your actions is the only thing that keeps most of us honest.

There was diversity of opinion when each city had multiple newspapers. But when media corporations became near monopolies the diversity of opinion was erased and most Americans forgot it ever existed. Without competition the Legacy Media was unaccountable. They could make up stories, chop up your words to 'Dowdify' a quote, even falsify stories such as pickup trucks that explode. They got away with it because the people could not hold them accountable. And when they were caught in something egregious there were few consequences. One scapegoat might be fired but little else would change.

A recent invention, the Internet and blogs, started talking about errors and bias they saw in news stories. For the first time in decades journalists are being held accountable for their actions. And they don't like it. But . . . turnabout is fair play.

Finally, Coleman claimed bloggers are not as well qualified as journalists. Blogs can bring together bright minds from many specialties. How many journalists have an advanced degree in anything? How many journalists are also trained as MBA's, lawyers, engineers, physicians, therapists, administrators or any technical certification? I suggest some bloggers are a lot better qualified than some journalists, emphasis on some, not all.

Posted by: David at October 4, 2004 1:50 PM | Permalink

John Lynch, Mark Gisleson,
Good Posts!

But Tom Friedman IS a "war whore", "opinionated jackass", and "complete tool". He is the kind of idiot Democrat who helped make the Iraq debacle possible. Good post, though, in your Tim way.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at October 4, 2004 3:55 PM | Permalink


Off topic meta-PressThink question.

I've noticed that since the DNC convention, the After Matter section has been used with less frequency, or perhaps subsumed. Are you reconsidering the "five parts" blogging method?

Also, if you are willing to share your thoughts, what are your thoughts about the comment section and anonymity/pseudonyms as it pertains to Gillmor's Grassroots Journalism?

Posted by: Tim at October 4, 2004 8:12 PM | Permalink

Thanks Ben. Tim's way is not always the best way, but it's the one I know.

Posted by: Tim at October 4, 2004 8:17 PM | Permalink

No, I haven't changed policy on After.... Sometimes I don't have the time to do it well, or I don't have the right ingredients to make it work. Put a lot into this one, for example.

I don't know for certain because I don't have good data on it, but I'd imagine one thing people come to PressThink for are the "focused links." And I feel After Matter is something that makes this blog somewhat distinctive, so... that's my thinking on it.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 5, 2004 12:32 AM | Permalink

Let's try to get a few things clear (since having Mark Gisleson posting will tend to render things opaque).

Coleman and his wife, Laura Billings, were reacting to *satire* on the part of a couple of the local "Northern Alliance" bloggers. The *satire* - either hilarious or puerile, depending on your tastes - was aimed at the alleged phoniness of Coleman and Billings' putative populism. First Billings, and then Coleman, reacted with churlish, snide columns that took broad, dumb, childish shots at the bloggers involved ("guys who sit in their mothers' basements in their underwear", "guys who sit in bachelor apartments with police scanners" indeed).

As to Gisleson's "anonymous" strawman - most of the bloggers involved, Hinderaker and Johnson and Morrissey and Berg and Banaian, do in fact post under their own names. Those that don't - so what? *They're not journalists*, and make no claim to be.

Finally, Mark Gisleson - please favor us with all the places where the Powerline guys were wrong on Memogate? Please show us where the story came from, if not them? Please show us *any* credible evidence that their thesis is flawed?

It's a rhetorical question; I expect no response. I doubt you have one that doesn't swerve into personal invective.

Posted by: Kilkenny at October 5, 2004 5:34 AM | Permalink

There's a huge irony here that is somewhat obscure but interesting regardless.

If you look at blogging, you can go back to look at several proto-bloggers who had a huge hand at inventing the form or at least laying the groundwork in important ways. One of these people is Justin Hall, and he is often cited in such histories. Another person, no less important but far less cited, is Carl Steadman, who tinkered with the reverse-chronological format, the dating of posts (and using that as the overarching organizational principle of a site), and other characteristics of the weblog form, going back to 1994 or so.

The irony is that Steadman worked, for a time, at the Star-Trib itself. So it's not that big of a stretch to suggest that Coleman's own newspaper was at least tangentially involved with the very creation of the form that he decries so loudly (and obnoxiously) in his column.

Maybe it is a stretch, but there's still irony in there somewhere.

Posted by: Michael at October 5, 2004 1:08 PM | Permalink

Dude, people online have LONG had a word that describes what Nick Coleman was doing, and without all the fine analysis too:


Posted by: Christine Boese at October 7, 2004 8:47 PM | Permalink

958 play texas hold em online here.

Posted by: texas hold em at October 11, 2004 8:02 PM | Permalink

From the Intro