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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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December 10, 2004

The Big Listen Option for CBS News After Rather

Peter Johnson, who writes about media for USA Today, sent me a note, with a question. With Dan Rather leaving the anchor's desk is there an opportunity for CBS to break away, and do something different? I answered him. There's an opportunity, I said.

From: Peter Johnson, USA Today
Date: Thursday, December 9, 2004

Doing a column for Monday about how Dan Rather’s leaving the CBS Evening News is an opportunity for CBS to think about doing things differently. You know the obvious suspects: having a pair of anchors, a minority, a woman, running the program later, expanding to an hour etc.

But perhaps I’ve missed what YOU think the single biggest thing CBS News should do to make a difference.


To: Peter Johnson
From: Jay Rosen
Date: Thursday, December 9, 2004

Yes, there is one thing they could do. Before they decide who gets the anchor chair, or what happens with CBS News, they could engage in an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, national act of public listening, where the entire divison, CBS News, just listens to Americans state their views about broadcast news. Lots of Americans, lots of views, lots of time to hear about all sides of the problem.

Maybe it’s a tour of America: CBS comes to you. There’s a public forum in every stop on the tour. Listening week. Instead of the Big Eye, symbol of CBS News, the Big Roving Ear. The executives make a pact with the journalists. No fateful decisions until the audience is heard at length— but not just the audience, the public, which includes the ex-audience, and critics.

How would it harm CBS to take a month out for its big public listen? Can you see one? I can find no harm. How hard is it to imagine big benefits for CBS News? There would be many benefits. It might even be transformative. Especially when the denizens of the news division get to arguing about what they heard.

Then, after you come back from your tour into American opinion, you put on the table the future of the CBS Evening News, and the anchor position. But it is a much fuller table once the results from listening week are factored in. The bosses should seriously consider it. The Big Listen option, engaging the entire news division— a reply to being almost fatally disconnected. A way of seizing the opportunity. But they may not be strong enough to pull it off.

After all, the day CBS announces it, some will be saying: they caved! They’re paying their dues for blowing one story! Chances of my scheme happening: Under 10 percent. But it’s the single biggest thing CBS News should do to make a difference. If you do write something about it, Peter, mention some of this.

After Matter: Notes, reaction s & links

True to his word, Peter Johnson of USA Today published a column about CBS News on Dec. 13, with news that was first suggested at (here.) Johnson’s column is: Report on CBS memo likely to be delayed. And he did mention some of what I wrote here.

Don’t miss the latest full-length essay at PressThink. Guest Writer Lisa Stone: Kind of a Drag— A Short History of Spin Alley and the Press. Stone, a journalist, on the life and times of Spin Alley, one of the strangest places ever founded in American politics. It required the cooperation of journalists who were also the intended victims. Linda Wertheimer in 02: “If a clever reinterpretation of an event can wriggle its way into a reporter’s story, why not keep doing it?” Stone has the answer.

At his blog, Mark Tapscott of the Heritage Foundation has some very kind words about this post.

Big news for readers of this blog: Tech columnist, blogger and We the Media author Dan Gillmor is leaving the San Jose Mercury News for a citizen journalism start-up! This is from Silicon Beat, which has more:

Dan will be starting a grass-roots journalism venture, and says he has gotten seed funding. The plan is typical Gillmor. It reflects his appreciation of the need for news to bubble up from the masses. It also allows him to partake of the dream that he has written so much about: The entrepreneur starting something interesting. “I’m jumping off a cliff with the expectation of assembling a hang-glider before I get to the bottom,” he told us this evening, in a phone call from Boston, where he is attending a conference at Harvard. “I figured the worst risk is that I’d be out of work in six months.”

Gillmor also announced it at his weblog. “I hope to pull together something useful that helps enable — and demonstrates — the emerging grassroots journalism that I wrote about in my recent book. Something powerful is happening, it’s in the early stages and I have a chance to help figure this out.” Dan, you have my vote.

Everyone who’s a CBS watcher is awaiting the release (within days, maybe) of the review committee’s report on what some, using a defiantly unoriginal term, call Memo-gate. Matthew Sheffield of emails: “if they want to prove they’ve turned over a new leaf, they ought to include bloggers in their outreach efforts following the release of the report.”

Jim Lindgren at the Volokh Conspiracy: The CBS Rathergate Report: Distribute a Draft First. ” If ever there were a situation for releasing a draft before releasing the final report, the CBS Rathergate investigation is it.” (Nov. 24)

Public Editor Daniel Okrent urges the New York Times editors to explain things to Times readers (Dec. 12).

We Call It “Journalism.” Bryan Keefer’s inspired rant defending Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Lee Pitts, who got a soldier in Iraq to ask Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld why troops “had to dig through landfills” for scrap in order to armor their vehicles. From CJR Daily, which is evolving well from its first incarnation as Campaign Desk.

Nation writer Eric Alterman with Paul McLeary in his “Think Again” column for the Center for American Progress:

Immediately following the election, and goaded by the resignation of Dan Rather from the “CBS Evening News,” the far-right media has expanded their critique from just a few allegedly liberal news programs and newspapers to the media establishment in general, as Jay Rosen, chair of the Journalism department at NYU recently pointed out.

He’s tallking about this piece: Writer Says Media is Election’s Big Loser: 21 Times.

Bill Moyers, who will retire from TV journalism next week: “We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country, or we’ll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we’ll not save democracy from its own inertia.”

Posted by Jay Rosen at December 10, 2004 1:13 AM   Print


That's a great idea, Jay: a road show, 20 days (four weeks), maybe 20 cities. And put the road show forums on the evening news itself. Tonight: here's what they are saying about TV news in Cleveland, or Sioux City.

Frankly, I'd rather hear concerned citizens than have CBS re-hash what I already know from having read the news online.

I'd also note that CBS has very little to risk in trying your idea. CBS is number three now and merely picking another anchor isn't going to transform CBS into a contender. Only a massive re-thinking is capable of that.

And you're right: the odds of this happening are less than 10 percent. It sure wouldbe great to see it, though.

Posted by: Roger Karraker at December 10, 2004 1:59 AM | Permalink

I'm afraid only the vocal "minority" would show up and speak their mind, not the average, disengaged, ex-viewer. So what they then put on the table doesn't really reflect the problem or suggest a solution.

I was also reminded of the Human Nature audio presentation by Malcolm Gladwell at in which he points out that the best selling office chair in history, the Aeron, would not have been introduced/produced if Herman Miller had listened to their audience.

Posted by: PXLated at December 10, 2004 3:56 AM | Permalink

The managing editors at the networks have to realize that truth has a competitor called obfuscation. It's not enough to report an important fact. The editor must make sure it registers with the audience, which means understanding - and overcoming - the other messages the audience hears. In other words, the competitive imperative for the networks has shifted from just getting a story to ensuring the audience understands the difference between truth and fiction.

Posted by: poputonian at December 10, 2004 8:04 AM | Permalink

Love it, Jay, but why limit it to one month? Listening should be the prime directive of any contemporary news organization.

Posted by: Terry Heaton at December 10, 2004 9:23 AM | Permalink

While this idea sounds great in theory, it would also rapidly turn into a logistical and PR nightmare.

Critics of CBS and the big media would complain it was nothing but a cheap PR ploy and say the tour is an indication the network's news division is clueless.

Worse, the forums would turn into little more than a chance for critics to scream at the network for past transgressions, liberal bias and every other perceived problem. (If you don't believe that, Jeff Jarvis's comment on your idea was "But, of course, I doubt that they'll listen about listening.")

It's already pretty clear what CBS needs to do. But it's looking more and more as if the ultimate decision will be made by Les Moonves and other people who are more concerned with what the advertisers will buy than what the public needs.

Posted by: Rick Ellis at December 10, 2004 12:55 PM | Permalink

I know, I know. It would never work, and they would never listen, and people would just rant about bias, and only the most predictable, driven, "biased" people would show up, and a few voices would dominate, and the logistics would be a nightmare, and the cynical would take over, and it would become a meaningless PR stunt, and the journalists were would be smiling while wanting inside to puke, and the columnists would make merciless fun of the company for trying it, and Jack Shafer would write a nasty column about it... So what? They should still do it.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at December 10, 2004 1:43 PM | Permalink

Just cause they're in "listening mode" doesn't mean they have to avoid using any journalistic ability. Sure, CBS should accept mailed conributions for willing and eager critics. But it should also send out reporters to coax ideas from people and communities who might not otherwise share them or for whom discussing the role of media would be new and enlightening.

Sure, the far-right media critics will howl, but they howl at everyone that doesn't agree with them. So lets repond to the part of their critique that has merit and ignore the nonsense.

Posted by: Mavis Beacon at December 10, 2004 3:29 PM | Permalink

This came in the mail, from Don MacGregor:

I don't like this idea. Ask the audience what they want to watch, and they will tell you what they want to watch, not what they need to watch. Americans need to know , among other things, about Foreign Affairs, and the activities of the rest of our Federal Government (not just the White House, Defense Department, and the State Department.)

It's time for our news media to show some leadership. If I were head of CBS, I would reassign the White House reporter. Have that person stop being a glorified stenographer, and start doing some real reporting on Washington activities, eg. investigative pieces on lobbying, analysis of the activities of other federal agencies such as the Agriculture Department. This reporter also has to step outside his or her "class " of people and start talking to mid-level and lower level bureaucrats, not just the agency heads.

I put it to you that good reporting brings us news we don't want to hear, but need to hear. One does not tune to the nightly news to feel validated, but to be informed.

Don MacGregor
Riverwoods, IL

Posted by: Jay Rosen at December 10, 2004 4:04 PM | Permalink

When asked about this by Larry King the other night, Andy Rooney said he had spoken to the president of CBS and had a little hope that CBS would innovate and maybe even try an hour-long news show. Not a lot of hope, mind you, but he said "20 minutes of news" is not enough each night to inform a nation that depends on TV for news and needs an educated populous for democracy to survive and function.

Posted by: Glynn Wilson at December 10, 2004 9:28 PM | Permalink

I think it's interesting how people begin to equate being listened to with having the right to dictate. Thus, if the audience is listened to, the audience will dictate. Thus CBS would be crazy to do so. Many journalists believe this. But they're not the only ones. To me that's just a faulty imagination. You listen to users to better inform your judgment. Those who equate this with abandoning judgment (to the whims of the mass audience) are just trying to make the whole impulse--listen? for what?--go away. So they polarize the possibilies and try to get you to pick one.

What do you want: play by our rules, or no rules? You want us to be your editor, or no editors at all? One grows suspicious of these questions after a while.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at December 10, 2004 11:53 PM | Permalink

Judging by their reaction to bloggers, CBS won't do it, but you needed to say it Jay.

They just went after Atrios for "ethical" reasons a couple days ago.
Doesn't sound like a company that's about to even try that PR gimmick.

You're right though, CBS news needs to reconnect with their audience. Fox managed to do it with snappy lines like "We report, you decide."
A tour of the United States would go a long way in giving their news division perspective and PR in how to keep an audience.

If a tree falls in the forest, and it only airs on CBS news, does it make a sound?


Posted by: Steve at December 11, 2004 10:53 AM | Permalink

It appears that CBS is attempting to suppress the Memogate Report until January (even though they said weeks, not months back in September). I don't think we need to hold our breath for CBS to have some sort of "listening tour" (Yikes! shades of Hillary). It's kinda cute that some believe the press will "come clean". The rest of us have more faith that donkeys will fly than the press will be either transparent or accountable.

Posted by: paladin at December 12, 2004 3:29 PM | Permalink

Oh, yeah, and Jay, you left out the most provocative quote from the Moyers interview, the part where he says: "the biggest story of our time is how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Rupublican National Committee". Think about it. I'm not sure what amount of time encompasses "our time", but that the rise of alternative media is THE biggest story of our time, says all we need to know about Moyers and his ilk. He will not be missed except by those who buy into his "media diversity is evil" mindset.

Posted by: paladin at December 12, 2004 4:33 PM | Permalink

As someone whose daytime job involves watching the right's use of the media, Moyers is not far off - and I'm someone who isn't in as much awe of him as so many on the left are. We've even seen the allegedly CBS get into the game.

Posted by: Oliver at December 13, 2004 5:21 AM | Permalink

I tend to agree with Don MacGregor's assessment. Public surveys and focus groups are done all the time by news organizations. The problem is the news people say they want and what they actually will watch are often in two separate cateogories. Imagine a face off between two nightly news programs where one has a lead about a fianancial impropeity done by a government contractor which cost the government a billion dollars, and another evening news which leads with an 4 minute people about Michael Jackson's legal problems.

We know which one would get more viewers. But when [b]asked[/b] what people want, they might specifically say "we want less news about Michael Jackson."

CBS is going to "change" by becoming a lot more like NBC news. The Rather-years have held CBS to the same format of presenting the days events as if most of the public hasn't already learned about them. "Breaking news...Condeleeza Rice will testify to the 9/11 hearings"

Posted by: catrina at December 13, 2004 1:11 PM | Permalink

Catrina made me think of something I have been mulling over for a while. Why not take network news back to the future? I hate to admit I'm old enough to remember network news when it first began back in the '50s, but here's what it was: There was a guy, sitting at a desk with a microphone, with a cigarette burning in an ashtray, and the whole program was just a headline reading service (I'm sure the headlines were from NYTimes always). Now if it's true that people are too busy for the news, why not just read the top headlines without comment, then say for more information go to our website. Not everyone will be interested in all the primary stories, but for those who are, they can get more information, for those not interested, at least they have a thumbnail sketch of what went on that day. Cut out all the commentary, all the hokey reports from reporters "on the scene", all the LAPTOPS CAN MAKE YOU STERILE nonsense, and the networks could really cover a lot of ground in 22 minutes. I say let CBS go back to the "Douglas Edwards and the News presented by Camel Cigarettes" model. It just might work!

Posted by: paladin at December 13, 2004 1:48 PM | Permalink

I find it fascinating that some PressThink readers think the executives and journalists at CBS already have listened to the audience, and that we all know what the audience would say, if asked.

My experience is that journalists hold "guesses" about what readers, viewers, listeners want, that these guesses are based on very little real knowledge, and that when detailed studies are done about users and what they do with the product, what they want from it, the results are often dramatically at odds with "newsroom lore" about audience preferences.

I would say that pattern--holding to a mythology about the people out there, a formulaic understanding, frequently jaundiced--is far more common than might be supposed. Your average newsroom veteran, a reporter or desk editor, will typically know very little of the data on readers and will not make it part of weekly business to keep up with what's known.

Those here with experience in the biz can tell us whether my impression is accurate. But if you think "listening to the public" amounts to being survey-dependent and ratings-driven, then you are severely misinterpreting what I mean by Listening Week.

I am talking about public debate and discussion, an opening of the ear at CBS News and an intention in the newsroom mind to publicly listen, then make big decisions about the future. Do you really believe that goes on all the time at a place like CBS News? Where? In midtown Manhattan corridors?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at December 13, 2004 1:53 PM | Permalink

I think your vision of reading the headlines is very interesting and "fresh" in an ironic way, paladin. I would suggest you develop it in a blog post. It's a very good idea. It points back to the newsreader, the "bulletin" style, very stacatto. But also forward because the man smoking Camels could not say: go to our website.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at December 13, 2004 2:00 PM | Permalink

Just cause they're in "listening mode" doesn't mean they have to avoid using any journalistic ability. Sure, CBS should accept mailed conributions for willing and eager critics. But it should also send out reporters to coax ideas from people and communities who might not otherwise share them or for whom discussing the role of media would be new and enlightening.

Posted by: Dany at December 14, 2004 3:13 AM | Permalink

I would have two suggestions for CBS:

1. Drop the idea of a permanent anchor. After all, anybody with a fairly decent high school education is fully capable to be a news reader. Besides, a pretty face, every now and then, will probably help the ratings.

2. Report the news honestly and fairly. If you are going to editorialize, once again, be honest and tell us.

CBS can feel free to ignore my suggestions. Feel free, but it's up to them if they want to keep looking up at the sidewalk from their apartment in the cellar. Oh,yeah, it might help if they stopped thinking of everybody who disagreed with the media as being "far-right."

Posted by: RIslander at December 14, 2004 3:45 AM | Permalink

Listening. Great idea, Jay -- but how about a slightly different one.

First, CBS has a few options, like who to have as anchor, and even whether there will BE an anchor.

So -- advertize a Face Off, one potential anchor vs. another potential anchor -- with each potential anchor having a lot of control over the format that THEY feel most comfy with.

Alternate them in a week, M W F/ T T S (?) and have an open evaluation of them by the audience.

So the listening becomes more focused -- what do they like/ dislike about these two potentials.

And identify the CBS decision maker(s) and let them make a decision, or comments and continue another week of testing, or comments and switch to another potential anchor/format, or pair of anchors.

Sounds a bit like a Reality Show for choosing News. Why not?
(Also a bit like the Jay Rosen guest blogging test of supportive writers. A good model.)

how people begin to equate being listened to with having the right to dictate.
Funny how critics of Bush used essentially this idea, "listening" became accepting orders. Bush listened, a lot sometimes (sometimes not), and disagreed, and did otherwise.

Just like CBS, and all, decision makers.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at December 14, 2004 5:07 AM | Permalink

I'm reminded of a certain episode of the _Simpsons_:

Man: How many of you kids would like Itchy & Scratchy to deal with real-life problems, like the ones you face every day?

Kids: [clamoring] Oh, yeah! I would! Great idea! Yeah, that's it!

Man: And who would like to see them do just the opposite -- getting into far-out situations involving robots and magic powers?

Kids: [clamoring] Me! Yeah! Oh, cool! Yeah, that's what I want!

Man: So, you want a realistic, down-to-earth show... that's completely off-the-wall and swarming with magic robots?

Kids: [all agreeing, quieter this time] That's right. Oh yeah, good.

Milhouse: And also, you should win things by watching.

Jay, I think we're back to the pseudo-populism problem. Different parts of the public will say different things. *Everyone* does know this, already. Some parts of the public will say they want detailed examinations of the state of Outer Mongolia. Some part of the public will say they want fair and balanced reporting - just like FOX NEWS does (sarcasm)! Some part of the public will say they want more "good news". Relatively few people will say they want all-celebrity gossip, all the time, but we know some do :-).

Now, given the result is going to be far-out situations involving robots and magic powers but a realistic, down-to-earth show ... What's the answer?

Either you go by market, or you don't go by market, so in both cases you've already made up your mind, so why bother asking?

Key point: This isn't answered by talking around it. As an illustrative parody:
"Why oh why must you assume that listening to the audience means becoming a slave to fashion?" Well, what does it mean? "It means communing, going back to the roots, getting in touch with the soul of the America". Which soul? There's one? "On, no, the multiple hearts in this great country of ours, the diversity of voices that journalism weaves into a common narrative". And what are you going to do once you're hearing voices? "We will LISTEN?" But ...

I believe the critics in this thread are actually closer to the core of the issue:

What decision-procedure is going to be used among the various conflicting viewpoints which anyone can predict will be expressed?

That's really the only question which needs to be answered. Because once it is answered, the outcome is determined.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at December 14, 2004 7:45 AM | Permalink

I don't care what SEE-BS does. I haven't tuned in to CBS News since Dan Blather took over from Walter Crankcase! So There.....

Most Sincerely,


Posted by: Raymond E. Santerre at December 14, 2004 2:15 PM | Permalink

CBS needs to pick up the pace and establish a credible anchor team. But the Evening News ratings still beat all the cable news networks combined. Big changes have to come over the next several years, but the network newscast is alive and well.

Posted by: Mark at December 15, 2004 10:14 AM | Permalink

Good impulse, but I don't like the idea of only one side listening. I think this should be a conversation, not a one way announcement from the audience to CBS. If one side is doing all the talking, be that CBS or the public, it becomes tyrannical (either an autocracy or mobocracy) quite quickly.

I believe that CBS execs should explain their thinking throughout the tour, and have a long and extended dialogue with the public, where all sides, not just those of the public, come out.

After all, CBSers are professionals with a great deal of institutional memory and talent, and it would be good for us public to hear what they're thinking.

Transparency and conversation. I also think this should be continual, with a month long kick off but a more subdued web version for the rest of the decade.

Posted by: Matt Stoller at December 15, 2004 12:33 PM | Permalink

CBS did a number on the FDA tonight. That's the kind of truth-telling I want from a media outfit.

Posted by: Johnny Appleseed at December 16, 2004 8:05 PM | Permalink

From the Intro