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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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November 7, 2004

BloggerCon III: Notes and Observations on the People of Moore's Law

"The people of Moore's law are not necessarily optimistic about events in the world, but it's so normal to them they don't realize how optimistic is their casual assumption that platforms change, and new, more powerful, progressively smarter ones will get built."

Palo Alto, CA, Nov. 7: Last night we said farewell to another BloggerCon, the third in the series begun by Dave Winer, creator of Scripting News and lots of other things. The first two were in Cambridge, MA at the Harvard Law School. The third shifted to a similar venue, Stanford Law School, in the heart of Silicon Valley, headquarters for what people at the conference frequently call “the tech community.”

It is for me one of the primary pleasures of BloggerCon that a good number of participants—the majority, in fact—seem to think they are attending a tech conference, a little matter of interpretation that separates me from them. In my view BloggerCon is not a tech conference—it’s about democracy, and the blogger’s “producerist” vision of it—but I am perfectly happy when others define the event differently. Part of a good conference is the clash of interpretations, which includes definitions of what the event is for and even which “normal” will be the norm.

I learn from the tech part of BloggerCon, although I understand only 50 percent of what’s going on in most discussions. It is also inspiring for me to be around tech people (especially the younger ones) when they get engaged in politics, writing, civic invention and what is sometimes called “arguing the world.” (Link.)

In hanging around the patio with them, and listening at the sessions, what I find remarkable and educational is the ease in which they accept that the platforms we build our work on, the systems we have for doing things, will in a few years wear out, and get superseded, just as a matter of course. The people of Moore’s law are not necessarily optimistic about events in the world, but it’s so normal to them they don’t realize how optimistic is their casual assumption that platforms change, and new, more powerful, progressively smarter ones will get built. We’ll be able to do way more.

That kind of overturn hasn’t happened in mainstream journalism for at least 30 years, and almost no one in mainstream journalism is ready for it to happen now. But in the tech community, even the kids in college have lived through a couple of revolutions. It’s no big deal.

The tech conference theme was especially strong this year because of the location: Silicon Valley. Many of the people attending BloggerCon III had careers in the tech industry. They were software developers, or had started and lost a tech business. They saw blogging and social software generally as the “next” thing coming up, one sign of a revival in the Valley after the Big Crash. Someone told me $60 million had been invested so far in blogging tools and the companies making them.

Some of the more prominent bloggers who gathered at Stanford are, likewise, writers and journalists in the tech world. They know all too well about tech industry conferences. Apparently, these events have a reputation for arrangements that are not altogether intellectually honest. This is because companies sponsor conferences, and therefore feel a right to sponsored speech. This history burst into the room in the wrap-up at BloggerCon, which unfortunately was dominated by a dispute over a Dave Winer-enforced BloggerCon rule that says vendors are not to promote their products. (Here’s a post about it.)

I told Dave in the parking lot of Ricky’s Hyatt the next day that I didn’t think the wrap-up should have been about that. He told me why it happened. Again I understood about 50 percent of it, but I realized that here it did matter what definition of the event people carried around in their heads.

BloggerCon is not a tech conference because blogging is not fundamentally for “techies,” it is for citizens, for everyone, by which we mean a good blogger could be anyone. And of course techies heartily agree with this. (That’s another thing I like about them; democrats about their own inventions.) BloggerCon is primarily for the producers of blogs, who find they have to gather now and then in order to understand what they’re doing, pool their knowledge, look ahead— and chat each other up.

When the tech industry is the base line for discussion, these people are called users, because that is how they stand toward the technology. But blogging is about how people stand toward their democracy, toward the public square, toward the First Amendment. Suddenly, when they start to blog, or comment at weblogs, they become producers of argument, of information, of social criticism and civic connection— producers of media in the same online space as Big Media. And if freedom of the press belongs to those who own one, bloggers own one.

A producer democracy is altogether differerent thing from the consumer-driven version most of us were raised on. It has a different media system too. Dan Gilmor’s essential book, We the Media, expresses and inscribes this idea.

At Stanford there was another crowd mixed in: people who build things for bloggers (and spend the $60 million.) BloggerCon is for them too because they are trying to make blogging more productive, better. A third group in attendance at BloggerCon III are stakeholders from industry, journalism and academia, who feel they cannot afford to ignore this sudden class of producers.

It’s fascinating to hear the stories from a public relations executive, a strategic planner for the Associated Press, an outreach expert from the BBC, a law professor who doesn’t blog (yet) but feels he has to know about it. If you ask them why they came, it never has to do with the tech industry. They sense some kind of social momentum; they are curious about where blogging will go in the wider universe. They have, I believe, an intimation of what a “producerist” democracy looks like. They want to see it for themselves.

Dave Winer, conference creator, calls Bloggercon a users’ conference. This is a perfectly good language and an excellent idea: the weekend is not about the vendors, he says, it’s for the users. They own the conference and are the conference. The vendors can come, but on the users’ terms. I agree with this approach.

But it’s worth adding that it’s only a contingency—the way things happened to work out in this case—that many of the first bloggers were people who were around the technology, or who invented blogging tools, so they were the ones who blogged. The roots of blogging are in the tech industry, and people in technology circles are still disproportionately involved. However, that is going to fade as democratic diffusion takes place. It won’t matter as much where it started. When there’s a Slashdot for knitting, the techies—who don’t knit—will have succeeded.

The producer revolution in media is related to a possible producer revolution in politics, and both are related to a broader revolution in knowledge, the one that confronts medical doctors with patients who have researched the medication the doctor just prescribed and talked via the Internet with other patients who have done the same thing. Medical authority doesn’t disappear in this new world. But it has to take sudden account of knowledge-producing patients who have their own ways of finding out what works.

Interactive authority in medicine is not going to be the same kind of authority—“I know, you don’t, so listen to me.” The search for what replaces do-what-I-say medicine is an important search for practitioners in medicine. I see blogging as partly about that. In the field I know best, journalism, it could not be clearer that the terms of authority are changing. It’s not that “no one trusts the press.” It’s that trust is not going to be established any longer on the old terms that “traditional” trust-me journalism thought immutable and just.

There can be new terms, as described in the New York Times Magazine cover story on political blogging:

A pizza-stained paper plate sat between Moulitsas and Atrios. Together, they have more readers than The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Exactly. And it’s more readers who are deeply engaged and in fact help produce a site like Daily Kos. The people in the tech industry are used to this happening. Upstarts upend everything. Happens all the time! Journalists don’t even know that it’s happening, or what that pizza-stained plate means for them.

Producer democracy may never come to fruition (it’s only a vision, and hard to achieve) but the experimental pursuit of this vision by blogging—-and not Silicon Valley’s next new thing—is how I define the purpose of BloggerCon. The event is a gathering of producers, people who “own one” and speak freely through it.

Users? Bloggers I see as vendors to the public square, suppliers for the national conversation. The speak to a public that is potentially world wide. For my money—another great thing about BloggerCon: it’s free—you cannot do better than Chris Lydon’s motto for political blogging: “take back the conversation.”

After BloggerCon I (Oct. 2003) I said: that was fun, a cult of bloggers. After BloggerCon II (Aprill 2004) I said: that was fun, a community of bloggers. At BloggerCon III it felt like a nation of bloggers was getting it together (well, half a nation, the blue half.) Maybe BloggerCon IV should be global somehow.

London calling, several people said to me. “First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.” (Leonard Cohen.) Anyone for setting BloggerCon IV in Waco, Texas? You know, closest town to Crawford, Texas and the President’s ranch. Think what interesting posts you would get from the wild heart of Bush country.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links

What do you think? Is it twilight for the users conference frame? Is there a point to these BloggerCon things? Share impressions, reactions and reflections on BC III— or argue the world. Hit the comment button and speak.

Technorati’s aggregator for BloggerCon posts. Morning after comment thread where Blogger participants give thanks, suggestions, initial reactions. This is the BloggerCon blog.

Attention BloggerCon participants. To be a “BloggerCon participant” means you blog about it— you know, produce good posts. If you don’t know what to write, or have too much to say, just tell us one thing you learned, and how it happened that at BloggerCon you learned it.

Good summary of the Politics session with Ed Cone from Extension 337. (And here is an Ed Cone article on blogs and Senate campaigns.) Also, Renee Blodgett at Down the Avenue has a good wrap-up. She quotes my remarks in the final session as: “When I went to the first BloggerCon, I went home and said ‘Cool, a cult of bloggers. When I went to the second BloggerCon, I went home and said ‘Cool, a community of bloggers.’ At the third Bloggercon, I’ll go home and say, ‘Cool, a nation of bloggers.’” One Pilgrim’s Walk gives a summary of the session I moderated on academia. JZip has another, quite detailed. Thanks!

Doc Searls posted his photo file.

There’s now an audio file of my session on blogging and the academic world at IT Conversations.

Wired, in a report from BloggerCon, on candidates and blogging.

Tim Oren, Foolish Mobs: Why Does The Networked Left Keep Losing? Provocative and useful, but I find it odd that he refers to “left technology determinists” (and how wrong they were) without naming any, linking to any, or sampling their foolish pronouncements.

David Kirkpatrick in Fortune Magazine… To Slog or to Blog: Is the Future of Media in the Blog? What commercial media websites can learn from taking the unconventional approach of bloggers. (Nov. 4, 2004)

Blogs aren’t merely an alternative to the press or a critical commentary on it. They are symbiotic with it. And the software that enables blogging is getting so simple to use that almost anybody can use it. That’s why the power of this medium will grow over time.

New York Times Magazine, Fear and Laptops on the Campaign Trail, by Matthew Klam.

Posted by Jay Rosen at November 7, 2004 11:21 PM   Print


Jay - it was great to say hello!

I've posted a mp3 and Quicktime Video from Larry Lessig's Law & Blog session here.

Posted by: Jim Zellmer at November 8, 2004 8:13 AM | Permalink

I fully agree with Jay’s interpretation of BloggerCon being a democracy forum rather than a technology forum. This distinction is something I believe most people at the conference failed to see. I’m probably one of the few that left the conference disappointed. Certain aspects were excellent, while others were lacking. I understand that as a “users” conference, discussion tends to gravitate toward user competencies – in the Silicon Valley, that competency being technology. But to me, the technology is the most uninspiring aspect of blogging. The simplicity of the technology gives this idea merit. I would have liked to see more of the social aspects of blogging being addressed.

In the Overload section, for example, instead of an emphasis on how technology could help users make more sense of this information glut, the discussion should have leaned toward the social implications of this glut. Are we better off as a society with this inundation of content? When does too much content render it useless? At what point does the amount of content we receive work against our understanding of say, issues, ideas, etc? Maybe next time.

Posted by: Uday Karmarkar at November 8, 2004 2:22 PM | Permalink

Thanks for the kind words about my notes from the Academia session! There are also notes from Journalism, Politics, and Making Money on my weblog. I'll happily take corrections and amplifications.

Posted by: adamsj at November 8, 2004 2:36 PM | Permalink

BloggerCon is indeed not a tech conference. It's a WRITER'S conference with some self-selection of interest (not focus, but interest) in technology. A 'Relaxacon' in con-parlance.

I mostly enjoyed the time I spent at Con I and Con II, and a few people were surprised when I told them that. In response, I pointed out that I treated it as a writer social event, not a Deep Forum Which Was Going To Change The World, and so it did fine as a convention-qua-convention.

Just ignore the wild-eyed cultists (anyone who has gone to a fan convention knows what I mean), find the good people (anyone who has gone to a fan convention knows what I mean), and it works well (anyone who has gone to a fan convention knows what I mean).

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at November 8, 2004 9:19 PM | Permalink

Good advice, Seth. I too see it as a writer's conference, primarily.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at November 8, 2004 10:00 PM | Permalink

"The simplicity of the technology gives this idea merit." Uday Karmarkar, you hit it right on the head there.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at November 8, 2004 10:06 PM | Permalink

Hi Jay, great post and excellent comments. I found your comments to be among the best at the conference specifically because you weren't a techy.

I enjoyed your story of Senator Obama and how he was being urged to blog. It seemed so obvious that he should adopt our tools. But you pointed out it was Senator Obama who was capturing the imagination of the nation, and we should have been adopting his.

I thought the moderators weren't as prepared as they could be. They clearly were knowledgable and shared personal experiences which were valuable, but many felt the need to comment on every user's comment taking up precious time from a new voice. A moderator should behave like they are mining for diamonds that every vein is potentially a fortune and it's their job to facilitate finding it.

I really enjoyed the conference overall, it had drama, and genuine optimism, and a really personal and warm feel because most of the audience didn't know anyone else but were warmly welcomed.

Posted by: Kieran at November 9, 2004 12:14 AM | Permalink

Bring BloggerCon to Central Texas, f'sure. I recommend Austin rather than Waco, maybe a field trip to Crawford.

Posted by: bc at November 9, 2004 11:23 PM | Permalink

Reynolds comments on BloggerCon III.

... I get the sense that these events are taking on more and more of Dave Winer's personality and slant. There's nothing wrong with that, but it will tend to narrow their audience.

Posted by: Tim at November 11, 2004 2:34 PM | Permalink

From the Intro