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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 18, 2004

More Undercurrent: Action in Greensboro on Open Source Journalism

With the local blogging scene rapidy coalescing on its own, the local newspaper, led by a blogging boss, decides to act. He wants to remake the site as "an online community or public square." E-mail from the Greensboro newsroom " many ways we've waited 10 years to do this and aren't going to wait any longer. My report is due next Friday."

(UPDATE, Dec. 21: See my new post, Greensboro Newspaper Goes Open Source: A Follow Up.)

If you care about such things, there’s a recognition moment underway right now among the bloggers in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the strange thing is we can follow it, even though it’s a very local development— bound to a particular plot of earth, which is also a place in the American South.

One of their own, Ed Cone, in whose nature it is to push things, pushed things when he asked: what are the defining traits of Greensboro’s blog culture? Great question. First, check in with the direct answers to Cone at his blog. There’s also Greensboro101, the local aggregator site, and Greensboro Is Talking, which gives you a flavor of the “scene.” I found effective GSO Live with up to the minute feeds.

One of the best of the Greensboro posse is “David Hoggard’s take on local politics and life in general.” The most fascinating from a political point of view is Jeff Thigpen, the duly elected Register of Deeds, explaining to his readers (citizens) how his office works and what he’s doing to be worthy of their confidence in him. Billy the blogging poet of Greensboro, wrote in comments here:

As a member of that group in Greensboro I’d just like to add that blogging is empowering the citizens of Greensboro like no other tool we’ve ever had. We now have the eyes and the ears of not only our local media outlets (and all our local TV. Radio, and print publications read many of us daily as we are the pulse of the community) but we also have access to local politicians in ways never before possible. Our group represents the entire economic, racial, and religious spectrum left to right. By joining together we are strong. By blogging about it we become stronger.

Responding to Billy and others in Greensboro is PressThink reader Jude Nagurney Camwell, who also does a political blog for the Syracuse newspaper, where she’s The Rational Liberal, and the nervy intelligence flows from her posts. This is from her personal blog, equally fine. Her observation tells us a lot about blogging and its strange sense of place. Remember, she’s getting this from reading the blogs…

The people in Greensboro have such talent - and such heart! I wonder - is it something in the drinking water? Whatever it is, it makes you wish you were there.

It makes you wish you were there. Which suggets a connection between blogging and longing. If you were “there” in August you might have been invited to their local blogging conference. Or you would be hearing discussion of who else should be blogging in Greensboro. This is from a summary of their last meet-up:

Among the people mentioned where Mayor Keith Holliday, County Commissioner Skip Alston, City Manager Ed Kitchen, Jim Melvin and the man in charge of the buses for the County Schools. The consensus seemed to be that the most-likely-to-blog is Ed Kitchen and that the schools’ transportation director would do it only if he is a bona fide masochist.

In my last post, Undercurrent: Nation, Region, Weblog, Home I touched on the Greensboro bloggers as one point on a global map. In my mind I compare this group to a gang—small, agile—hanging out on the fringes of The Media, looking to add members, expand their territory. Maybe make a raid or two on The Local Fortress.

One thing that distinguishes this gang—not the only one, but critical for my purposes—is that the town’s newspaper editor is thinking about riding with the outlaws. Weird, because he’s supposed to be The Local Fortress, to “have” the news franchise in town.

John Robinson, editor of the Greensboro News-Record, writes a blog (and he’s getting better and better as he does it.) He says he into creating a culture of blogging at his newspaper. Not only that, he’s on record wanting to co-exist with a strong blogging culture in town. As far as I can tell there is no one to stop him from either of those two things.

Members of the Greensboro gang are not entirely comfortable with this. Why should they be? The newspaper is still a powerful beast, with an out-of-town owner (Landmark Communications). Its editor could try to bigfoot everyone. But we haven’t had many editors—lo, many journalists—who choose to learn about blogging by blogging. It’s a good sign. Not only that, The Editor’s Log has comments. He’s two way, and trying to walk-the-walk.

But now Robinson has gone further. He may have been radicalized. Here’s what I mean. Friday I get an email from Lex Alexander, PressThink supporter—so loyal he once taped Sinclair Broadcasting’s Kerry program and sent it snail mail to me for blogging purposes—who is also a writer/editor and blogger for the News- Record. He works for John Robinson. This is what he sent me— and others.

Our editor and M.E. have asked me to figure out how we might change our Web site into more of an online community or public square. I have some ideas of my own and already have blogged about this project to solicit suggestions from readers. But I’d be interested in your thoughts — on the philosophy of such a site as well as any specific suggestions you have for content or organization, and any pitfalls you can think of.

I’ve been waiting for this. So have many others. The organization willing to be a little radical. Maybe you can’t change the newspaper and its ideas overnight, but you can change the website and its underlying ideas overnight.

If (to take one simple example) you put a discussion forum after every article that might warrant it, and make the writer of the story check in with the forum, because his piece isn’t done until it’s been discussed by readers (new definition of done…) then, yes, you’ve changed “overnight.” Lex said the newspaper had been building up to this. He said it was a “no looking back” moment.

…in many ways we’ve waited 10 years to do this and aren’t going to wait any longer. My report is due next Friday, and we intend to begin changing things on Jan. 3. And my editor has made it clear that even though this effort will have to come out of existing resources, he’s willing to divert to make this happen. He’s not looking for marginal, incremental change, but transformative, revolutionary change.

It’s all there at his Dec. 17 post, If all of us build it, where you can add comments. (At his own blog, Robinson lets us know that Alexander isn’t freelancing. “Help him out,” he says.)

Here’s my initial round of advice:

  • Change policy from the industry standard, “never link out in news stories” to the new standard, “always link out.”
  • Change this page: There needs to be a free archive from now on. Articles get one url and that remains the url forever, with a powerful directory to find stuff. “Now your fine work will be in Google,” you tell the staff. “The knowledge platform of our time.”
  • Create one or two blogs, the main purpose of which is not to project the author’s knowledge (or opinion) “out there,” but to draw knowledge from its dispersed location around town and around the Web. These would be weblogs founded in the faith the Dan Gillmor is right when he says: “My readers know more than I do.” They are primarily learning machines run by a journalist from the newspaper. A simple example would be a drug pricing blog.
  • Create a home (bio) page and stable url for every journalist on staff, with a goal for having 100 percent of your bylines linked to live bio pages, updated by the staffers themselves. Then begin experimenting with transparency by asking staffers to explain “who they are, where they’ve been and where they’re coming from,” but limiting it to those willing to disclose. In a story like this, Jennifer Fernandez’s name would be clickable, (it isn’t now) and we could find out something about her. Watch as some of the bio pages evolve into blogs.
  • You want to be the public square, News-Record? Then keep a running list on the front of your site with the twelve most important, vital, involving and humanly real stories in the Greensboro area, and if some of them are problems that remain on the list for years, so be it. The Big 12 in GSO. Move one off when it’s decided or solved or it fades. Change it weekly. Change it monthly. Make it six instead of twelve. It doesn’t matter how you do it, what you call it. All that matters is that your list be “live,” capable of changing on a dime or not changing for years— and of course, it has to be accurate. How’s it going to be accurate? Only if your site is two-way. Only if you’re in touch. Only if you’re good.

Those are a few of my ideas. What are yours? Hit the comment button and tell us. It might also be good to advise the News-Record directly.

“It’s a sad sight,” wrote Larry Pryor, executive editor of Online Journalism Review, “watching newspapers stand by as digital technology explodes, capital shifts to new media ventures and the world awakens to this powerful tool for communication and trade.” John Robinson and Lex Alexander seem determined to not just stand by. They’re ready to rebel. Dan Gillmor did that: He rebelled against the slow pace of change when he quit the San Jose Mercury News for an undefined citizen journalism start-up.

Tim Porter of First Draft, who has been on this story (“watching newspapers stand by”) tells us how Roger Karraker asked him in comments last week, “Tim, do you ever feel as if you’re talking to a wall?” This is Porter’s reply:

the answer is yes, Roger, I do because I feel like the message—delivered not just by me, but by so many other lovers of journalism more capable than I—isn’t taking hold: Adapt or disappear.

But in Greensboro the message is taking hold. They have a newspaper that has chosen to adapt. It’s not time to play, “People get ready, there’s a train comin” but it is time to take notice. The News-Record has actually invited what Chris Lydon calls “the transformation.” That’s news.

After Matter: Notes, reactions and links…

PressThink’s follow up post: Greensboro Newspaper Goes Open Source (Dec. 21)

Okay, people: what do you advise for the transformation of the News-Record online? This link will take you to the PressThink comment thread.

Pegasus News: “Everyone I talk to in the industry says that change will never come from within. That’s why we’re here.”

San Diego Blog: “Starting a Sense of Community: But are we Greensboro Yet?”

Ed Cone: “Nothing we’ve done here can’t be done elsewhere.”

Writer and blogger Matt Welch in the comments to this post reports that his wife, a French journalist “was looking through the website of the News-Record on behalf of her very interested editors of the French daily Liberation, who want to ramp up their blogging possibilities.”

Dan Gillmor on the action in Greensboro: “This is a big deal.”

Joe Gandelsman at The Moderate Voice agrees: “Greensboro could indeed be the start of a revolution, especially when you read how this newspaper is taking and quickly reacting to readers’ comments on how they’d like to see the paper create a web presence in the 21st century.” (Dec. 20)

David Hoggard, Greensboro blogger: “To me, it doesn’t feel like any kind of a revolution, it simply feels like a natural - albeit accelerated - evolution.”

Greesboro blogger Chewie: “Blogs are not letters to the editor; they are letters to the world.”

Chewie links to a study from research firm Media Audit (pdf) with this lead: “the percentage of adults who spend at least an hour a day on the Internet is significantly greater than the percentage of adults who spend an hour a day with the print edition of a daily newspaper.”

Take a look at this chart. It tells most of the story.

Greensboro is Talking on the tricky subject of paying bloggers if they are incorporated into the News-Record. (And a response from Ed Cone, who is a paid columnist for the paper.)

Andy Wismar, tech guy and blogger in the better known “research triangle” area of North Carolina, reacts:

How can Greensboro, often described as “Raleigh without the PhD’s,” be this onto the scene, while myself, 50K other geeks at RTP tech companies, and umpteen thousands of NCSU, UNC, and Duke college students sit by idly? Whenever I’m there and surrounded by locals and not lawyers, I expect a spontaneous NASCAR race to materialize. If that town can get together and make peoples lives better through improved communication, imagine what would happen if a real city got motivated? It boggles the mind.

Yeah, imagine.

Global Voices Dept: In “all eyes on Greensboro,” Guardian web editor Simon Waldman points to this page of stats about Greensboro and this map to tell you where it is. Cool.

Billy the Blogging Poet: “While it may be that other cities have a higher percentage of egg-heads (those with PHDs and other advanced degrees) the egg-heads here in Greensboro aren’t so uppity that they exclude those of us who might not be egg-heads or just happen to be cracked.”

Plus: Greensboro has a new upstart alternative weekly. One blogger says: “They get it from the git go.”, the hyper-local start up in the DC area, has fixed up its website since “coming out” at PressThink Dec. 2. There’s now a “what we’re doing” and “who we are” section.

From the Chomsky wing of the left, a new entrant in online journalism. It’s called The New Standard. Aiming at a combination of radical politics, brutally factual journalism and total independence from the corporation, from commercialism itself. (User supported.) The site, which is beautifully realized, has up-to-date thinking built into it everywhere. They pay writers. (And are flooded with inquiries.) They are only interested right now in hard news. They aspire to tough, “show me the proof” standards in editing. And they seem to know what they’re doing. I’m not endorsing the quality of their reporting, by the way. Check out this page: Content Contributors: Getting Involved. It’s an interesting page.

Via my politically aware niece, Julia Rosen, who has a blog, comes this detailed and interesting profile of the Daily Kos community in the East Bay Express.

Michael Kinsley, columnist, founding editor of Slate, opinion page editor of the Los Angeles Times, discovers distributed knowledge, or, as Dan Gillmor puts it, “my readers know more than I do.”

Some of my best friends are bloggers. Still, it’s different when you purposely drop an idea into this bubbling cauldron and watch the reaction. What floored me was not just the volume and speed of the feedback but its seriousness and sophistication. Sure, there were some simpletons and some name-calling nasties echoing rote-learned propa- ganda. But we get those in letters to the editor. What we don’t get, nearly as much, is smart and sincere intellectual engagement — mostly from people who are not intellectuals by profes- sion — with obscure and tedious, but important, issues.

New blog on point: Alan Mutter (“perhaps the only CEO in Silicon Valley who knows how to set type one letter at a time”) has started Reflections of a Newsosaur, which will offer: “Musings and (occasional urgent warnings) of a veteran media executive, who fears our news-gathering companies are stumbling to extinction.” Sample of his advice for newspapers: “Here’s a radical idea: Why not partner with some of the online guys who are eating your lunch?” Pertinent. So check into it.

John C. Dvorak’s guide to using blogs: Understanding and Reading a Blog (for Newcomers).

Posted by Jay Rosen at December 18, 2004 6:37 AM   Print


A few ideas:

1. Aggregate postings from blogs -- the newsworthy, the challenging, whatever -- and publish in print and online with linked discussion forums.

2. Feed the results of discussion forums back into the newspaper, not as "letters" or op-ed, but as part of the news flow.

3. On stories where the blogging reader really does know more, evolve the relationship from reporter-source to a partnership.

4. Blog an editorial board meeting or news meeting so readers can see process. Explain, don't justify.

5. Have a "Give me rewrite" section of the Web (a wiki?) where readers can rewrite selected news stories. Have editors and reporters study it to see what readers consider important, to find what's been missed.

There are some issues: finding a way to engage a broader community and to give access to those who don't have access to the technology. And dealing with the newspaper giving up some control while maintaining authority.

Posted by: mark at December 18, 2004 2:06 PM | Permalink

Excellent suggestions, Mark. Thanks!

Posted by: Lex at December 18, 2004 4:38 PM | Permalink

My recurring reader's frustration: readers need the opportunity to ask the questions the editor should have asked. Who, What, When, Why? To drill below vague generalizations with queries they may not be able themselves to answer (no access). A wiki won't do this.

Posted by: AH at December 18, 2004 7:08 PM | Permalink

For those bloggers in other communities who wish to duplicate our success here in Greensboro, here's the secret:

Inclusion. When Ed Cone and David Hoggard first stepped-up to the plate they included anyone who wanted to play nice. (We deliberatly avoid political discussions choosing instead to concentrate on the tools available to politicans>) No one was left out unless it was by their own choice. I, like all the rest of our community, saw this as an oppourtunity. It would have been easy (and might I add stupid) for someone like me whose blog actually earns some revenue to discount those who might consider themselves hobby bloggers and nothing more, but I don't have to be slapped upside my head to understand who my readers are and how they find me. Inclusion is indeed the key.

Of course we do have a lot of good models locally, but a lack of local models shouldn't be a problem for any community in such a connected world.

There are those who fear the inclusion of the News and Record, but I think N&R Editor, John Robinson, understands that his newspaper needs the blogging community even more than the community needs the N&R. I salute Mr. Robinson for seeing the picture so clearly.

I suspect a little prompting from other blogging communities will wake a lot of mainstream dailys over the course of the next few months.

Posted by: Billy The Blogging Poet at December 18, 2004 8:52 PM | Permalink

AH: I like your idea. I want to be sure I grasp it, though. You're saying there should be a way for readers who have run up against their limitations in finding things out to alert the newspaper that its great advantages--acess, power, reputation, getting your calls returned--is needed here, meaning especially needed... right?

In general, one of the things "tech," software and systems people could do for newspapers like the News-Record is imagine better filtering systems for reader feedback and for the production of useful information by the consuming class. Doc Searls calls it the demand side supplying itself.

Yours is a pinpoint suggestion, AH.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at December 19, 2004 1:28 AM | Permalink

Phil Wolff of sent this in by -email.

I endorse all the suggestions posted so far. Here's mine.

Host bloggers on your paper's site to cover specific beats. Aggregate and credit their work.

For example, you may only have two sports writers, but I bet you can get 20 bloggers to cover all of your high school teams and sports Think of the coaches, parents, alumni. Their writing will come with distinctive, passionate, perhaps expert views.

One half-time business writer? Actively recruit experts from the various disciplines to your co-branded blog space. A marketing pro. A retailing insider. A realtor. Members of a local investing club. A management consultant.

When was the last time you really put effort into obituaries? It's a local hole you could readily fill with volunteers.

With this, you're not going for the Letters to the Editor thing. Instead, create a place online that will attract regular voices and deeper coverage into your media family.

Maybe your staff writers will cultivate these swarms to augment their own reportage.

Hmmm. Sounds like running a pool of stringers, paid with editorial support, visibility, and credibility instead of money. Or a farm team.

Philip Wolff

Posted by: Jay Rosen at December 19, 2004 9:54 AM | Permalink

Phil raises some interesting points...including one he doesn't enumerate: the internal politics at the newspaper.

How are writers going to feel about bloggers, especially ones on their beat?

Bear in mind that this is a substantial daily newspaper, these people are professionals, they already feel underpaid, now you are teaming them with people who work for free. And who in some cases are going to be very good at the job.


Posted by: Ed Cone at December 19, 2004 1:18 PM | Permalink

"Bear in mind that this is a substantial daily newspaper, these people are professionals, they already feel underpaid, now you are teaming them with people who work for free. And who in some cases are going to be very good at the job."

Which I imagine at some point will create pressures in the other direction as well, when the bloggers start asking why they are getting paid only in attention and credibility, and not cash.

Posted by: The One True b!X at December 19, 2004 2:27 PM | Permalink

I'm quite the neophyte, still trying to get my mind around weblogs (webpage?, public bulletin board with hyperlinks?). For instance if a story is written about a controversial Greensboro county commission meeting that results in just 100 responses from locals in the form of questions, comments, and additional information, is it intended for the writer or the editor of the story to read all of them? Multiply this by the number of stories in the week and how would there ever be enough hours in the day to even glance over the responses? Or just look at it from the perspective of the reader. I would submit most would not read all the previous postings before adding their own (because their own opinion is more important than others that have an identical viewpoint). I hope I'm wrong, but I could see this Next Big Thing collapsing under its own weight of massive participation. Lastly, just as I always wonder if some of the calls into Washington Journal on C-SPAN are just boiler room shills for parties or special interests, how can one guard against the weblog equivalent of Astroturf?

Posted by: Tim at December 19, 2004 2:56 PM | Permalink

"Sounds like running a pool of stringers, paid with editorial support, visibility, and credibility instead of money."

Exactly. Isn't that the unspoken theory of much of the outsourcing of journalism? "Hey, there's all these people out there who are willing to WORK FOR FREE! Just provide them with a little ego-stroking, and you can replace many paid employees with unpaid *bloggers*".


Of course, the reality may be more complex. But isn't that the idea, stated in a less fulsome tone than is typical?

b!X: Obviously, the answer to "why they are getting paid only in attention and credibility, and not cash.", will be, "If you don't like it, you're free to go, we'll get someone to replace you, bye-bye". After all, if it's the wise crowd, the swarm, the smart-mob, which matters, where does an individual deign to think he or she should not write for the unsullied purity of self-expression?

By the way, as an actual data-point, how's the Portland Communique doing in terms of survival?

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at December 19, 2004 3:02 PM | Permalink

Get some bloggers who have enough courage to cover men's issues. You can find some signs of activism at and a few links to blogs and independent media activitists. Still, finding men's issue bloggers will be a challenge in the short term, but it will pay off big-time in the future.

Traditional media total fails in this area, and it won't be easy for it to change without a major reorganization such as open source journalism. Just ponder the Washington Post running a prominent series "following up" on the Peterson tabloid story (see WP front page, 12/19). While the WoPo may be trying to compete with the tabloids, it will lose, because the tabloids are a better read for these kinds of horror stories. On the other hand, the real untold story is domestic violence against men. The relevant research is readily available (see here ) and at least one UK major publication has provided some reporting (see here) But the real difference is that now the web makes the untold story available to anyone who cares to type “domestic violence against men” into Google.

Gross anti-male media bias really is a major problem. The NYT runs 30 articles about Augusta National's male-only membership, but never mentions men's lack of reproductive rights, anti-male sexism in the family courts, how men, because of their shorter life expectancy, get shafted by the current social security system... Groups like Fathers-4-Justice ( will get their message out. The question is what news sources will have any credibility remaining when they do.

Posted by: Bill Staid at December 19, 2004 3:25 PM | Permalink

Tim, your observation about the scale issues involved with comments reflects a real problem for high-traffic sites. Threaded comments are one partial solution. Certainly only the most dedicated reader (or editor or writer)is going to read scores of comments under any circumstance. But I'd file all this under 'good problems to have.'

Posted by: ed cone at December 19, 2004 3:44 PM | Permalink

Obviously, the answer to "why they are getting paid only in attention and credibility, and not cash.", will be, "If you don't like it, you're free to go, we'll get someone to replace you, bye-bye".

And I wish that the people pushing the sorts of endeavors which will inevitably face this problem would start talking about it. Everyone these days is crowing about journalism and ethics, but none of them seem to be willing to seriously engage in the ethical issue for journalism posed by this dynamic.

(To briefly answer Seth's direct question to me: It remains an open question, because I don't know until next month how well PC's listing in the Willamette Week "give guide" paid off.)

Posted by: The One True b!X at December 19, 2004 5:31 PM | Permalink

This was so good I had to transport it over from The Lex Files at the News-Record site. It's from "Sue," who is obviously a careful reader.

Blogging isn't all about technology, but it's a product of it. Anything you do (including guest bloggers, a good idea) should be something I can get only online and has to (again, IMO) tantalize those of us who are online-forward.

I don't agree that all of the print paper needs to be online. I think they're different media and I'd like to see what you do celebrate that difference. Make me want to click your link; challenge me with both information and medium. Do the online part right.

A Q&A is great - specific questions with specific answers and archive them. Have a place to post folks' frustrations with finding things out in GSO and tell them where to find them. Don't reiterate what's in the print edition. Give me online columns with tech, political, social edge of the envelope pushing. Forget comics but give us a "lighter side" of positive and funny insight. Share something good that's happening in GCS and downtown. How about a source to find boards & commissions seeking volunteers (that's up to date and linked to applications/further info)? An online who's who of community leaders a/w/a those that are making a difference but aren't famous (yet)?

The N&R was way ahead of the times with The Depot but it didn't stay ahead of the curve. Is there a commitment to this new feature that will keep it at the forefront?

My $.02. Merry holidays.

Posted by: Sue at December 1

To me that is quality advice. Ought to get the juices flowing at the News-Record. Others?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at December 19, 2004 9:31 PM | Permalink

Sounds like a great situation! Alas, where I live, in Laramie, Wyoming, things are not nearly so good. Our one daily newspaper -- oddly named the Laramie Daily Boomerang but often nicknamed the "Rumorbang" or the "Boomerwrong" -- provides biased and highly selective coverage of local news. Coverage is rife with embarrassing factual, grammatical, and spelling errors. Political figures whom the publisher favors get pull quotes and frequent pictures in the paper, while the newspaper also has a documented history of rejecting letters to the editor which disagree with the publisher's opinion on an issue, which might possibly offend major advertisers, and/or which provide links to supporting information. Because it is economically infeasible to start up another daily paper, many in the community who are disgusted with the paper are interested in starting up a blog-based online alternative.

Think we can do it and make it sustainable? Ideas would be much welcome.

Posted by: Brett Glass at December 19, 2004 11:17 PM | Permalink

Jay, being a terrible hippie (that is a joke), wants to make the archives free. But archives have become an interesting little revenue-generator for newspapers; seven figures a year for the big boys, maybe six for John Robinson.

So: If you go totally free (and I, being a worse hippie than Jay, think you should), then you should *also* go gangbusters in creating the possibility for an advertising network that goes hand in hand with your local blogging network, and becomes part of the day-to-day portfolio of your ad reps. Do Charlotte blogs all have BlogAds & GoogleAds? If not, encourage those who do, sign up the newspaper's weblogs to these (or other) services, and teach local advertisers that there are opinion-makers to be reached on the super-cheap.

My one other half-wit idea is to turn obituaries into blogs, or at least message-boards where people can share stories & photographs & grief & humor. Obits are always popular, and newspapers for too long have seen them as micro-revenue generators, as opposed to opportunities to provide much-appreciated service (in return for loyalty & eyeballs).

Have a great Christmas & such, everyone!

Posted by: Matt Welch at December 20, 2004 2:01 AM | Permalink

Charlotte, Greensboro, whatever ....

Actually, just last night my French-journalist wife was looking through the website of the News-Record on behalf of her VERY interested editors of the French daily Liberation, who want to ramp up their blogging possibilities ... and she found it difficult to find A) Robinson's blog, and B) the freakin' name of the state (which Carolina??). FYI, etc.

Posted by: Matt Welch at December 20, 2004 2:05 AM | Permalink

To Brett in Laramie,

"Think we can do it and make it sustainable?"

If you have a rudimenary stable of local bloggers who write about local politics and local happenings, you could throw up an alternative to "all-ink, all the time" through an aggregator like in short order. Roch, the site's owner could even do it for you guys (for pay, I'm guessing).

Getting the word out to bring eyeballs to the alternative news will be the challenge. You might start by placing a big ol' ad in the Boomerang.

It might come back around and bite them in the butt if they actually accept your ad.

Also, read what has to say about getting things going.

Posted by: David Hoggard at December 20, 2004 8:46 AM | Permalink

After reading all the commentary, I'm struck by how conceited bloggers come across. I realize that the current discussion started on a blog and was picked up and expanded by other bloggers, but the idea at the core of the discussion is how to make a local newspaper website a community gathering place where your average citizen has a voice in how the news is reported. Most of the comments I've seen are about how to involve bloggers. I think that is very narrow scope for a discussion like this. Let's face it: the percentage of any community that blogs is going to be very small. What about the rest of the community? How do they get involved? Most of them won't blog or respond to blogs. I think bloggers need to start thinking a little further out of the box and stop blowing smoke up each other's posteriors about how great and powerful bloggers have become. It's not about blogging. It's about community.

Posted by: Kehaar at December 20, 2004 5:13 PM | Permalink

Brett - see Peter Levine blogging on the J-Labs New Voices community news support project.

Kehaar - see Bakersfield's Northwest Voice (linked to from Peter's post)

Posted by: Anna at December 21, 2004 1:35 AM | Permalink

Kehaar: the idea at the core of the discussion is how to make a local newspaper website a community gathering place where your average citizen has a voice in how the news is reported. Most of the comments I've seen are about how to involve bloggers. I think that is very narrow scope for a discussion like this.

Things are a little blog-centric here, I suppose. But consider, Kehaar: This suggestion, in my original post-- is it about involving readers or involving bloggers?

Create one or two blogs, the main purpose of which is not to project the author's knowledge (or opinion) "out there," but to draw knowledge from its dispersed location around town and around the Web. These would be weblogs founded in the faith the Dan Gillmor is right when he says: "My readers know more than I do." They are primarily learning machines run by a journalist from the newspaper. A simple example would be a drug pricing blog.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at December 21, 2004 2:06 AM | Permalink

Matt: The Oregonian has some of the most thoughtful, wonderful obits I've ever seen, even for folks that seem to have had little going on. I wish others would do that. Maybe blogs can lead.

It would be nice if someone developed a blogging platform for the technophobe, fairly simple, to provoke more participants. (I thought blog-city had a great interface for a writer for example, though it had limitations in capacity for design and loaded slow).

Posted by: Kevin Hayden at December 21, 2004 9:18 AM | Permalink

Somewhat OT, but WaPo just bought Slate magazine. I wonder how these smaller local blogs will function in relation to big money or national news. Will they be bought out by bigger sources when profitable? What happens then?

Posted by: Steve at December 21, 2004 1:57 PM | Permalink

first of all. very cool. i know Jay and many others have been waiting for this for a long time. the public and the newspaper will benifit a lot from this development.

second, thanks for the shout out Jay :)

third, Jay is no hippy. my parents and Jay's sister Wendy (my aunt) are the hippies in the family. Jay would rather listen to Billy Joel in Madison Square Garden, than sit in a field of mud with hundreds of thousands of strangers. city boy through and through.

Posted by: Julia at December 21, 2004 8:22 PM | Permalink

And to Matt Welch and his belle journaliste, Merry Christmas out there in San Diego.

Posted by: ed cone at December 22, 2004 8:36 AM | Permalink

When the Greensboro News & Record first started its online "The Depot," I encouraged them to put stuff there I couldn't find anywhere else. Why else would I go to their online edition?

They didn't. So I didn't. But they *were* lightyears ahead of their time. There is a great vision in Greensboro and I hope we'll get it right this time.

Posted by: Sue at December 22, 2004 9:03 AM | Permalink

"Sue" and "southernrants" are one person. Thanks for scraping my comment at Lex's site; and I am a careful reader. I engage mouth, or fingers, later.

I'm excited about the blog conversation and the N&R's lead in this. They've suffered, IMO, from a lack of cohesive and intelligent tech reporting. Not everyone is a technophobe. The syndicated column they carry weekly is an insult to a lot of people.

IMO, blog software should always be easy to use but blogging should not and will not lower to the bottom half of the class. It takes creativity to dedicate oneself to serious blogging and that crosses all techie lines. The Help file is there; click it and read. The N&R should rise to that level as well by challenging the thinking community, some of which is represented by this blogging sector. If the politics means that "the powers that be" don't know how to use a PDA then educate them.

Perhaps this is why the venture has become national. There's an epidemic of under-challenging going on in this country with too many folks accepting untruth as truth because it's repeated so often and belief has become religion. Blogging, in part, challenges our beliefs through everyperson's voice. That, folks, is democracy to me. Born in Greensboro or somewhere else, it's a thing of wonder. And it deserves a national voice.

Posted by: Sue at December 22, 2004 8:44 PM | Permalink

Your post is a typical machine manufactured plug on a movement that has been driven by a local blogging community which is not dependent nor led by the Landmark's mass media "posse."

"InAction GSO" was approached by bloggers over 2 years ago who offered to build IT for them for free. [] The organiztion ignored the messengers and their ideas as useless and ineffective. Known for it's unwelcoming environment and its intolerance, (InAction) GSO and others are attempting to "jump on the bandwagon" in support of one of their sponsors (N&R) after finally having no choice.

In Greensboro there is a battle royale underfoot. Local journalists are positioning themselves as rebels---??. Their paychecks come from one of the top 50 media conglomerate's advertising pool--not from selling their own talent to the locals. Until that changes . . .they're just pawns with a pen at the feet of the establishment.

This isn't local leadership Rosen, this is an opportunistic media affiliated with an opportunistic organization associated with political opportunists and land-based elites within our community. The N&R and ActionGSO pushes propoganda and have been successful at pushing it on you. You're being tooled by those you critique. =)

Things didn't *just* get started here. It's been blog'rolling for years--in spite of the isolated support provided by self-interested traditional media --They're WRITERS and do well at talking the "community" talk while doing the status quo walk.

They could do better at reporting on the blogosphere -- if they would refrain from positioning themselves as leaders within it. In reality, they are followers:: of the advertising dollar---Their audience is going to the blogoshere. That is why the golden geese/chickens have come here to roost.

It'd be great if this "initiative" was as rosey and benign of a "community" effort as the N&R claims. The truth is, the traditional media/establishment is still looking to control information in our community by bottlenecking and filtering the blogosphere to continue their own corporate/political agenda--which has not changed.

It t'ain't top down in Greensboro anymore . . .and it never will be again. Dig deeper into the 'boro blogosphere--

Kehaar, IT is about community-- But the paper and it's business are not. They are their own community.

Posted by: Tara Sue at December 22, 2004 10:01 PM | Permalink

"With the local blogging scene rapidy coalescing on its own, the local newspaper, led by a blogging boss, decides to act." PressThink, Dec. 18.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at December 23, 2004 2:34 AM | Permalink

The local blogging scene is not rapidy coalescing on its own---it's been driven by *hundreds* of bloggers and non-bloggers who agree that traditional media production/distribution models deter active, balanced and informed public participation in both private and public sectors.

Holding up the N&R's entry into the blogoshpere as sign of something other than profit motive and control is beyond naive. The world has had enough.

Few speak out directly against local media, especially those waiting for a link bone to be thrown or for a story to be writ. Nobody wants to piss off the man with the short pen and the big paper. So *Nobody* tries.

Posted by: Tara Sue at December 23, 2004 3:17 AM | Permalink

Tara Sue, by all means, please provide evidence that the N&R intends to bottleneck and filter the blogosphere -- for any reason. For that matter, please provide evidence that such a thing would even be possible.

Posted by: Lex at December 23, 2004 2:13 PM | Permalink


The traditional media is held by a few corporate interests that have controlled the distribution of information and macro/micro advertising dollars for generations. You are paid by/through a company in Virginia.

The paper always puts its mouth where the money is. Now the mouth is on the blog . . .to eat stories, creative capital, money . . . DATA. It decides what to say and how to say it in "one voice"~~"one bias." Why not just get one blog?

Supporting evidence you requested is posted here:

Posted by: Tara Sue at December 24, 2004 2:14 AM | Permalink

OK, you're right, I really am an Evil Genius Bent on Conquering the Universe(tm). All your Interwebs are belong to us. Etc.

Sheesh. The report's done, and so am I. I'll talk to everyone in a few days.

Peace. Out.

Posted by: Lex at December 24, 2004 2:43 PM | Permalink

From the Intro