This is an archive, please visit for current posts.
PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine
Recent Entries
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

Syndicate this site:

XML Summaries

XML Full Posts

November 13, 2004

How Do You Blog Ideas into Events? PressThink Tries to Find Out

Event blogging-- "live." We have only scratched the surface of what it's about. For example, here I am, blogger at an event: the Online News Association. It's meeting in Hollywood all day today. At 2:00 I will be part of a panel called I Robot. How to leverage automation to your advantage.... (read more)

Hollywood, CA, Nov. 13: Event blogging— “live.” We have only scratched the surface of what it’s about.

For example, here I am, blogger at an event: conference of the Online News Association. It’s meeting in Hollywood all day today. (Hollywood: still our dream factory, right?) At 2:00 I will be part of a panel called I Robot. How to leverage automation to your advantage.

Robots and journalism come together in the dream factory: you have to admit that has sex appeal. Before that, the keynote address from Wonkette, who should be in the movies. (And she’s a blogger.) Should be quite interesting.

Now in its current meaning,”to blog” the ONA would be to attend sessions and post summaries of them. Like Jeff Jarvis was doing this week. “Session notes” is the default style. An extremely useful thing to do, especially for those who type fast. Also common is the “here I am” post, and the “who I saw” entry. When they get back home, bloggers cast a backward look and interpret what went on, as I did with BloggerCon III. (Notes and Observations on the People of Moore’s Law)

With Not Up to It, my post from earlier this week, I described what I intended to say the next day to a group of journalists at an Institute here in Los Angeles. That was blogging the event beforehand by “releasing” into Net space some of the ideas I planned to inflict on the participants the next day:

“Not mainstream journalism the practice, but the contraption it has for explaining, situating and defending itself has in 2004 finally broken down, given out after 40 years of heavy, reliable use.”

Most of the Institute fellows (working journalists) were innocent of what PressThink had said Monday when I greeted them at luncheon Tuesday. Tim Porter at First Draft, who was there event blogging (but in a different way than I was), told his readers what happened at the Omni Tuesday, drawing the lines of argument “back” to my set-up piece, Not Up To It. Porter’s account made Romenesko, so Not Up to It had a second debut.

Most of its readers got there via Tim’s event blogging. A signifcant number were steered in by Marc Cooper of the Nation, who blogged it the next day. ” …Rosen rocked the boat as one of our lunch-time speakers, declaring flatly that the American mainstream media model—something he calls ‘the contraption’—has effectively collapsed.”

So that was event blogging, too. During my part in I Robot, about two hours from now, I am going to be injecting where and when I can the image of a “contraption” that has broken down in mainstream journalism and specifically newspapering.

What contraption? You can read about it here (Cooper) here (Porter) and here (PressThink.) How will I be “injecting” into ONA my sense of a contraption that has stopped working, gone dead? We will have to see what happens. I’m not sure anyone knows how you blog ideas “into” events.

This conference, the Online News Association, received a gift when Tom Curley, boss of the AP, engineered an act of intellectual leadership in the guise of giving an opening address: This is going to be a period of great change for the media, as we wrestle with many old and new demons at the same time — legacy technology, silo-ed bureaucracies and entrenched workflows on the one hand, and the killer apps and new voices of the Internet on the other.

Read it. This is the head of the AP with a radical’s message about change. See Command Post on it too.

Now I have to dash to Wonkette. After that it’s Robots in the Press Room, with PressThink invited to give a blogger’s eye view of automated news sites. And then it’s the Big Politics ‘04 Panel, with Arianna Huffington, Joe Trippi, Mickey Kaus, Jehmu Greene, Dave Winer, moderated by Dick Meyer, editorial director,

More later. Here’s the schedule.

Uh, I almost forgot: PressThink is up for an ONA award, too. But that’s later tonight.

UPDATE, 10:25 pm: Big congratulations to Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury News, writer of Dan Gillmor’s E-Journal, author of the all-important book, We, The Media, and winner of the 2004 Online News Association award for online commentary, small sites. (PressThink, and Mark Glaser of OJR were the other finalists.) There’s a reason why Gillmor’s weblog has, at last count, 2293 links from 1883 sources. ONA recognized that with this award, its first given to a blogger. (Full article on the winners.)

Two important moments from the I, Robot panel. (Here’s a report from the ONA site.)

First, Bill Gannon, Editorial director and managing editor, Yahoo! News explained that Yahoo News, an aggregator, relies on “human editors” (journalists) and thus their judgment, which he said distinguished it from Google News. Nathan Stoll, Google News product manager, agreed. He said that Google News—the idea for which came from a computer scientist—was a selection system based on an algorithm. It’s automated, unlike most other news sites, or blogs for that matter. (Here’s another site, neither Google nor Yahoo, that was originated by a person, but operates on an algorithm.)

I said that human editors are good to have, a smart algorithm is also good, but what will ultimately spell the difference in quality is the strength of the relationship or two-way connection between the filterers (editors) and the users for whom the filtering (editing) is done. The stronger that two-way connection is between editors and users, the better the filter will be in filtering in and out— for those users.

This is a challenge to people in mainstream newsrooms, because they are not used to associating content quality with quality of connection. On the other hand, I didn’t get the sense that Yahoo or Google were there yet, either. Bloggers, I said, were showing the value of being interconnected.

“The news, as ‘lecture,’ is giving way to the news as a ‘conversation,’” said Tom Curley in his opening address. “An active two-way connection to the audience has always been the secret to success in our business, whether you’re talking about inspiring a letter to the editor or selling classifieds and cars.”

That an “active two-way connection” with the public is essential to successful journalism has indeed been a big secret in the news industry; and Curley was being clever in his phrasing because he knows most journalists do not see it that way. For two-way journalism is hardly the norm in American newsrooms.

Second: I tried out a new way of explaining The Contraption and its demise. I said that I had been told by a lawyer friend that in any transaction involving sale of an asset, there’s a moment—perhaps it is only conceptual one—when no one owns the asset. Meaning the seller has reliquished it, the buyer hasn’t taken possesion. And that, said my friend, is when a smart lawyer can make a buck.

I told the audience at ONA that I felt journalism was at a similar moment, when no one quite owned it. “I see it as up for grabs today,” I said. It’s not clear exactly who is in possesion. “And that’s why were having this panel today with Google and Yahoo, not traditionally thought of as journalism companies.” I don’t know what Bill Gannon of Yahoo thought of this comparison. But Nathan Stoll of Google said he agreed with my assessment: weird moment, up for grabs, lots of uncertainty, not clear who owns it.

More on ONA when I return to base. Cheers.

Posted by Jay Rosen at November 13, 2004 12:02 PM   Print


Okrent on faux objectivity.

Posted by: Kenneth Roberts at November 14, 2004 12:13 PM | Permalink

Interesting conference. Sorry I can't be there. But here's my blog on the subject today:

Life is Change, Growth is Optional, Choose Wisely

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.
— William Blake

By Glynn Wilson
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Nov. 14 (SDN) — So much for the value of "staying the course" and "staying on message" and not "flip-flopping," the political frame that dominated media coverage of the presidential election of 2004 and led to the victory of George W. Bush.

As the rest of the developed world seems to know, the American mind is particularly snake-ridden at this juncture, to borrow a word from George H.W. Bush.

And there doesn't seem to be much hope that the snakes will be driven out any time soon. Sorry Europe. Where's Saint Patrick when we need him?

Newspapers face a particularly interesting dilemma.
Sustainable? I have my doubts.
As Benjamin Franklin said, "When you're finished changing, you're finished."

Read the whole blog column here:

Southerner Daily News

Posted by: Glynn Wilson at November 14, 2004 3:17 PM | Permalink

Journalists truly care, so don't write us off

Readers want their lives, their lifestyles and their sensibilities to be taken more seriously. They don't want to be made fun of for their political point of view, the faith they freely and proudly espouse, the place where they choose to live or how they raise their children. And when they read about people like themselves in stories about social or cultural issues, they don't want them to be unfairly portrayed as unenlightened or bigoted or racist because they share a real fear that the culture — popular and political — is in decline.

And that's a bigger challenge for us because we're not very much like our readers. We tend to be younger (by 10 years or so); live in town (certainly not in the suburbs, where the majority of the readers are) and we rarely go to church, if we are religious at all. We don't hang with the same folks our readers hang with. We don't read what they read. (I doubt more than a third of the news staff could tell you who Rick Warren is. For journalists reading this: Google him.)

That disconnection is at the heart of the crisis American journalism faces.

Posted by: Tim at November 15, 2004 2:26 PM | Permalink

From the Intro