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PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine
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Like PressThink? More from the same pen:

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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November 6, 2004

PressThink is Looking for a Second Author (Maybe) and a Donor (Definitely)

"Odds are the right person is a journalist or ex-journalist, or has a background in media studies. But who knows? It could be someone young. Or retired. It would help broaden PressThink's sensibility to have someone female. It could be an inspired amateur with no background at all who's great with the Web."

PressThink is thinking of expanding the masthead and taking on a contributor— one person to help me do this blog. Contributions once or twice a week, more when I am traveling or otherwise unable to write. I need someone familiar with the blog, able to diagnose and write vividly about press behavior, press thinking, press pyschology, as well as the tensions between mainstream journalism and the Web. Also someone able to research the Web, pile up the links, perhaps solicit guest writers, monitor comments, and generally add to the life of the site as it gains traffic and draws attention.

Odds are the right person is a journalist or former journalist, or has a background in media studies. But who knows? It could be someone young. Or retired. It would help broaden PressThink’s sensibility to have someone female. It could be an inspired amateur with no background at all who’s smart and informed and great with the Web. And it could be that my search turns up no one quite right, so I drop the idea.

The exact nature of the contributor’s contributions will depend, of course, on the contributor’s strengths and interests; but for one model see Terry Teachout’s About Last Night, elegantly written and designed. It features a regular guest commentator, Our Girl in Chicago.

This is not a job. I can’t pay (well, maybe a small amount that would be symbolic only). But I can get the right person many thousands of readers—including working journalists—some blog visibility, your name in Google, a chance to have voice in debates about the future of the press, and to plunge into Web publishing, build a brand. You would need about 10-15 free hours a week to do this well.

Also, I am looking also for a donor—foundation or individual—who might be persuaded to make a (tax-deductible) gift to NYU for purposes of sustaining and improving PressThink. The most immediate need is to pay a second contributor; beyond that I have other ideas for an expanded service that take investment. I also need a re-design.

Finally, I renew my call to professional journalists who have something to say to their colleagues in the mainstream press about the predicament of the press in the wake of the 2004 election, and in light of bigger developments all around us.

I would like to continue the examination of old think in the press, begun by ex-New York Timesman Doug McGill (The Fading Mystique of an Objective Press) and Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub (No Longer Do the Newsies Decide.) Background to those pieces was my post: Too Much Reality.

If you have an interest in any of these three items—second author, donor, gues writer—just e-mail me and we’ll take it from there. Thanks.

Posted by Jay Rosen at November 6, 2004 7:21 AM   Print


Jay, I've got to say, I think this is one of the most *insightful* posts recently here. Full of good FACTUAL nuggets:

"I can get the right person many thousands of readers--including working journalists ..."

"... build a brand. You would need about 10-15 free hours a week to do this well. ..."

"... gift to NYU for purposes of sustaining and improving PressThink"

Ah, gatekeepers, barriers to entry, financial constraints ...

Have you tried the Soros foundation? It's the one I've had mentioned to me most often. It won't support individuals (sigh ...), but per above, you might be able to work the NYU angle.

Let us know how it goes, really.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at November 6, 2004 7:44 PM | Permalink

Definitely get a journalist in here to work with you side by side.

Posted by: John Adams at November 6, 2004 8:22 PM | Permalink

I vote for Rebecca MacKinnon.
(am always generous in providing others with the opportunity to do more work)

And here's a fine "blog comments civility" idea, which could kill two birds with one stone, if only it worked:

Just as in bars(?) where if you swear you have to put a quarter in the [for whatever purpose] jar, in the comments you could have an "off topic" or "incivility" fine, which escalates with each successive infraction.

The money could go toward paying your co-contributor, and would accrue rapidly.

Yes, there is still the small matter of getting the commenters to pay up

Posted by: Anna at November 7, 2004 12:57 AM | Permalink

I'd reccomend Jan Herman over Terry Teachout

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at November 7, 2004 8:39 PM | Permalink

Teachout for me.

Posted by: sbw at November 7, 2004 8:43 PM | Permalink

I think that, if the credentials are there, having a female voice here would be fantastic, as we, by definition, write from a different frame of reference towards the world than you/males.

I think you have two choices in terms of that person's voice: erudite/philosophical like yourself, or more pithy/sharp to provide a contrast. (Which is not to say you aren't pithy/sharp, of course, just that your posts tend to be meaty and thought-provoking vs. short and punchy.)

I'd love to see someone who is in their late 20s - mid-30s, who has been a generational bridge from the newspaper/broadcast era to the online/24x7/DIY era. I think people of that age group can offer unique perspectives.

Finally, you might want to consider bringing in someone who is not on the inside of journalism, but who is a close observer/student of it.

As I re-read the above suggestions, I noticed all of them tend to fall under "a different perspective to the same topic." I cannot nominate someone here off of the top of my head, but I look foward to the conclusion! (The above choices are interesting, but they already have broad pulpits. A new voice might be better.)

Posted by: Elizabeth Albrycht at November 8, 2004 8:30 AM | Permalink

This is a great inside baseball journalism blog, but I can tell from your questions sometimes that what this site needs in terms of analysis is someone who has all kinds of journalism experience plus professional academic training, steeped in the tradition of a research university. An English degree from Yale and a few years working for a mainstream newspaper is not enough, sorry.

Most Ph.D. academics are too busy trying to publish so they won't perish that they don't have time for this kind of involvement with the profession.

I decided a couple of years ago to leave academe and get back in the news business and to publish online rather than in obscure academic journals. I would be glad to help however I can now that I have some time on my hands. I'm not a woman or a minority, if you don't count my Cherokee blood, but I could offer a bit of regional and economic diversity.

I'm just a poor working man's liberal reporter from the American South.

To check out the most recent example of what I do online in my Sunday weekly column, here's the link:

The main url for the daily headline site is here:

My journalism experience clips page is here:

And here's my resume, which is adapted from my academic curriculum vita:

Posted by: Glynn Wilson at November 8, 2004 12:42 PM | Permalink

I am curious if interesting new technologies were discussed. Today, the experience of the user of a blog is to read it (with or without an aggregator), maybe read the comments, and maybe comment. Perhaps one follows blogrolls.

Trackbacks allow blogs to interact automatically, but I haven't seen much come out of them.

For blogs with comment sections, the commenters tend to form a community. But the comment technology is quite crude - just a list of comments. Threaded comments would be interesting (a la Slashdot) and allow the inevitable off topic drift to be ignored by those who don't care.

Obviously blogs and journalism interacted this year. Bloggers had more influence than I expected - if nothing else, by casting shame on some journalists who didn't do fact checking.

Blogging is a relatively new technology, with developing variations in usage. But as a techie who started with analog computers and an IBM 7095, it feels like more is on the way. There is bound to be something else that has as big an impact. It might replace blogging with something else, just as blogging has sort of replaced Usenet. It might greatly enhance it.

Any clues at the conference? Blog + Wiki?

Posted by: John Moore at November 8, 2004 5:24 PM | Permalink

I think the content is the key be it printed or cyber. With so little actual original reporting on blogs what we have is a public op-ed page. For those who've tried to collect the $375 that the NY Times pays contributors for these pieces doing it for free is much easier. Generally it's the only way you'll be successful at it. That's because the papers are picky, blogs are not.

Posted by: John Adams at November 9, 2004 9:41 AM | Permalink

I will apply for second authorship. You can look at my site to see how I look at things, I'll submit my own cover letter separately.

John Moore would be a good choice, too -- don't know why he didn't offer himself above.

But if you want a woman, why not go for an evangelical, instead? FAR more under represented in MSM. Heck, why not a Black, female, evangelical?

Of course, I mean the fabulous LaShawn Barber. Maybe she doesn't know you're looking...

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at November 12, 2004 9:29 AM | Permalink

From the Intro