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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 28, 2004

Zack Rosen: My Advice for the News & Record

"Look to Kos. He has a real community. 10,000+ active particpants regularly participate in his space. They converse, peer-moderate, scheme, and organize day in and day out on his site. They come up with incredible ideas, rally their fellow 'kossacks' around them, and galvanize them into action..."

In 2003 my philosopher-geek nephew Zack Rosen took a vacation from college to do open source software development for the Howard Dean campaign.

After that he founded Civic Space Labs in San Francisco— a “continuation of the DeanSpace project. We are veterans of the Dean campaign web-effort and are now building the tool-set of our dreams. We are busily completing work on CivicSpace, a grassroots organizing platform that empowers collective action inside communities and cohesively connects remote groups of supporters.”

I asked him for his ideas on what the Greensboro News & Record should do (background is here and here.) This what he wrote. It’s also up at, his blog.

Special to PressThink

My advice for the News & Record

By Zack Rosen

My Uncle Jay gave me a writing assignment last Thursday:

I want 400 words from you on what you think the News & Record and the bloggers of Greensboro should do…

I’ve been enjoying my nearly two year school work hiatus but there was no getting out of this one.

The News & Record

A pretty normal seeming Greensboro North Carolina newspaper, the News & Record, is taking a plunge into the world of blogging and web-community.

We have been planning major upgrades to our online capability for some time but haven’t been able to make them due to software limitations. We have addressed those limitations and are preparing a major relaunch of and several other of our websites. With the new online publishing system, readers should be able to comment on any story, view photos that made it into the paper and those that haven’t, participate in forums and blogs, etc. The new system is light-years ahead of where we stand currently and we look forward to debuting it to the public. I won’t fall into the trap of promising a launch date, but please stay tuned. It’s coming. (continued)

Cheers to them. That is one hell of a leap.

But the catch is they don’t really know what they are doing…..

I believe the newspaper’s web presence should be open and inclusive, should include lots of voices and commentary and news, should feature so many blogs on so many topics that everyone wants to be a part of the community and, better yet, everyone wants to visit here, should generate revenue that we can plow into the site to make it better, should be dynamic so that it takes its lead from the market, and should engender the civic-oriented discussion of ideas that makes Greensboro such an interesting place.

I just haven’t figured out how to do it. Yet. (continued)

So they asked us. Which means (to me) that they know exactly what they are doing.

So here is my advice:

You are already following my best piece of advice.

I was going to tell you to “be human.” But you already are. You’re striking the perfect tenor on your blog; open, fun, conversational. If you are going to throw open your doors to whomever shows up you might as well throw a party when they do. Keep asking them for help and advice. Reward them for participating. Kos is your exemplar. He does a better job of this than anyone else I’ve seen. He has little tricks— he puts up a couple open threads a night that he is known to participate in. He is constantly pulling up and responding to users’ personal diary entries. He is the conductor of his community. Watch how he does it.

You are building a web-community not just a web-log.

A web-log can make you famous but it takes a web-community to create an institution.

Again look to Kos. He has a real community. 10,000+ active particpants regularly participate in his space. They converse, peer-moderate, scheme, and organize day in and day out on his site. They come up with incredible ideas, rally their fellow “kossacks” around them, and galvanize them into action. Countless numbers of bloggers started off as lurkers on his site and quickly worked their way up the food chain from commentors, to diary owners, to full-blown bloggers before spinning off to form their own spaces.

On a geeky level: MT or other straight up blogging software simply won’t cut it. It sounds like you’ve already chosen your toolset— but I would take a long look at tools like Scoop or Drupal (which is what CivicSpace is built on top of). Both platforms go well beyond simple blogging in terms of what they empower community members to do.

You are all alone but not without a map

Check out what Lawrence Journal-World in Kansas is doing.

And of course you should spend due time looking in South Korea’s citizen-journalism looking glass OhMyNews. They have been doing what we’ve dreamed about for years. And it worked.

All this stuff is in its infancy

None of us really knows what is going to happen. The ‘blog-osphere’ is operating at nowhere near full capacity for change. Help us figure it out. The onus is not on you to do the hard work. All you have to do is be willing to innovate and empower your community do the hard work. (End.)

UPDATE, Dec. 28. Dave Winer, boss of Scripting News, writes in from a truckstop in Santa Rosa, NM:

Zack proposes a centralized system, had Jay asked me I would advise as decentralized a system as possible. Think of the newspaper’s job as facilitating the flow of information among the citizens of Greensboro. The more they try to organize, the more the citizens will look to them for direction. It should go the other way around if it were to work. This is the model I’ve used for Scripting News with great success. We’ve started so many weblogs, and they in turn have started so many, although many of them have no idea how the virus that got them going got its start. That’s how the new newspaper and political movements will work, in my opinion.

He also pointed me to a 2001 piece from Dave Net: “Get a lot of people writing for your site, nurture them, teach them, find the best, and grow grow grow. Editorial people become talent scouts. Instead of employing writers, employ facilitators and teachers.” And:

So if the vendors won’t come, what’s to stop the users from becoming vendors? Further, if journalists won’t write from a users’ perspective, what’s to stop the users from becoming journalists?

See comments for more…

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links.

See PressThink’s Top Ten Ideas of ‘04: Open Source Journalism, Or “My Readers Know More Than I Do.” (Dec. 28)

Ed Cone: “Meanwhile, TheShu raises a question we’re already on the verge of dealing with here: what happens when there is too much local online content to read on a regular basis? My answer goes back to the various portals I see arising, which will filter content into a manageable torrent. The N&R might be one such hub, along with general and targeted local aggregators and central sites that will continue to emerge, and (as I guessed in my first N&R column about blogging way back in 2002) popular blogs themselves will be portals into the web.”

Jim Capo, Greensboro blogger: “I understand the desire of the N&R to maintain its position as the organ of record. But I suspect the more principled of our local alternative media will remain independent and take a pass on any N&R blog schematic being laid out.”

Philly Future: A very interesting local aggregator:

Philly Future is a compendium of all online writers, narrators, blogs, and commentators in the greater Philadelphia area.

Think of this as Philadelphia’s very own Slashdot, or Metafilter, except with blog headlines from around our local web flowing thru.

Essentially, Philly Future aspires to be glue that pulls together our local blogging community. (Link.)

Where’s the love? Steve Yelvington at New Media Tidbits: Who’s Measuring Love of Newspapers? On Craigslist costing newspapers big money in ad dollars because it has developed a more loyal following.

Just for Fun: 2004 Year-End Google Zeitgeist. “Search patterns, trends, and surprise.”

Susan Sontag dies at 71. She was a big influence on me— her books were, that is. I recommend the Steve Wasserman obit from the LA Times, which includes this from Sontag: “In my view, the only intelligence worth defending is critical, dialectical, skeptical, desimplifying.” Note that unusual adjective, “desimplifying”— something good journalism often has to be.

Posted by Jay Rosen at December 28, 2004 1:03 PM   Print


Maybe not exactly like Kos. Could be a little more neutral politically. Of course residents/audience/participants will probably decide that. :-)

Posted by: PXLated at December 28, 2004 1:37 PM | Permalink

Zack proposes a centralized system, had Jay asked me I would advise as decentralized a system as possible. Think of the newspaper's job as facilitating the flow of information among the citizens of Greensboro. The more they try to organize, the more the citizens will look to them for direction. It should go the other way around if it were to work. This is the model I've used for Scripting News with great success. We've started so many weblogs, and they in turn have started so many, although many of them have no idea how the virus that got them going got its start. That's how the new newspaper and political movements will work, imho.

Coming to you from a truckstop in Santa Rosa, NM!

Posted by: Dave Winer at December 28, 2004 2:39 PM | Permalink

Dave: I love it. And I am, in fact, asking you. What do you think Greensboro should do?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at December 28, 2004 2:43 PM | Permalink

Dave: I see a mix. Put up an aggregator that sucks up local blogs / events ( and provide a centralized space for participants to interact. Something kind of like LiveJournal...

Posted by: Zack at December 28, 2004 3:31 PM | Permalink

I agree with Zack here - you want the system as decentralized as possible, but centralized and coherent enough that it does not overwhelm the average, non-techie, consumer of news media. Unfortunately, format is often as important as content when trying to gain an audience that is used to the major media.

We love tons of links and rss feeds and aggregations, but to many it is simply daunting. And this is where CivicSpace is at its best. It allows for a moderately decentralized system with a separate blog and rss feed for each user, but also a simple, coherent index page with easy readability.

We over at San Diego Blog are keeping our eyes on the Greensboro scene to see what we can learn from their endeavor.

Posted by: oso at December 28, 2004 4:11 PM | Permalink

And this is where CivicSpace is at its best. It allows for a moderately decentralized system with a separate blog and rss feed for each user, but also a simple, coherent index page with easy readability.

My sense was that "decentralized" was meant to be taken more literally than this -- as in not having all the bloggy content hosted in one place, but somehow tapping into what people are already doing elswhere.

Or, that wasn't the sense intended and I'm just reading my own biases into things.

Posted by: The One True b!X at December 28, 2004 7:43 PM | Permalink

Indeed a sorrowful day. Losing Susan Sontag at a time when we need her most. Perhaps she had already given back to the melting pot, so much. Illness as Metaphor was also influential for me. I knew when I woke up this morning it was going to be a crappy day...

Posted by: Jasperjed at December 28, 2004 11:12 PM | Permalink

Strangely enough, from geek to geek, I would have to say that while KOS is definitely a good example, that still has an author's biased arena (left winged). Geek wise, I'd go with Slashdot or Engadget. Engadget's only been around since beginning of 2004, but one of this year's top tech news blogs.Slashdot was a product of 1997 with the motto, "News for nerds, stuff that matters." As I've said before on other comments locally, Slashdot should be the prime example to be since it both creates a captive audience, and also allows commenting on latest news and even has an effect named after the site [Slashdot effect]. Blogging news might be in infancy or the rest of the world, but for us, we've been there, done that, still doing it. ;)

Posted by: Ben at December 29, 2004 12:23 AM | Permalink

From the Intro