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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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January 23, 2005

A Few Key Moments at the Blogging, Journalism & Credibility Conference

The podcasting era dawns for Powerline. How public involvement leads to information hunger. Blogging may be profitable for some media owners but not others. A passion for neutrality and Wiki News. Keep your eye on the open archive. And more.....

I asked participants in the Conference on Blogging, Journalism and Credibility to e-mail me one thing they changed their mind about or saw differently. Deadline for replies is 2 pm Monday, and I will report what they said in a separate post. (See “Big Wigs From the Blogging & Journalism Conference Say What They Found.”)

Background essay for the conference is PressThink, Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over (Jan. 15, 2004, rev. Jan. 21.)

Meanwhile, here were the key moments for me out of Friday and Saturday’s sessions:

1. Public involvement leads to information hunger.

Rick Kaplan, head of MSNBC, explaining that cable news is going to survive: “on people’s involvement.” That’s what will feed their hunger for news and talk. Look at the the way the ratings for news rose because of the campaign. It’s not just that people were interested; they were involved. Kaplan’s thinking: the bloggers are connected to the people who really care about events in the world. That’s my core audience. That’s the driver of demand. (It’s also the argument civic journalists were making all through in the 1990s, which is another post.)

People need news and facts to inform their participation. That’s one way of thinking. When people get involved and participate, they seek out information. That’s a different way of thinking.

2. Profitable for whom? How blogging makes money.

Rick Kaplan teaching us why blogging has economic value to MSNBC that it might not have if you don’t run an operation like MSNBC. He likened the situation to Ted Turner owning the Atlanta Braves. They were not worth as much to most owners because it was hard to make money running a baseball franchise. “The team would have to go to the seventh game of the World Series, not the sixth, to turn a profit every year,” said Kaplan.

But since Turner owned a cable network and selling air time is a business that does make money, the Braves were profitable for him to own. They fed good content through the pipes. Blogging, he suggested, would be profitable in this way, even if you can’t “make money at it.” Exactly how the analogy applies he did not say.

3. There is no continuum on which journalists and bloggers fit.

David Weinberger arguing that what drives bloggers is their interests, as in “I blog about what I am interested in.” Journalists follow events, bloggers pick and choose. This is why he sees a discontinuity between blogging and journalism. The “driving” force is essentially different. Journalism is an effort to record the world, blogging an attempt to be in it. They cannot be placed on some “information” continuum. Most bloggers aren’t trying to provide information at all.

Dave put it this way: “This discussion assumes that blogging is continuous with journalism and ought to be judged by the same criteria. And it isn’t. The change to the institution of journalism will come, I think, not from bloggers who think they’re sort of journalists but from the 99.999999% of us who don’t think we’re journalists at all.”

Later on he put it this way: “The media is owned. The blogosphere isn’t. We together are building it. The media have to try to get us interested in what they do, but the blogosphere is constructed out of our interests.” (Salon’s Scott Rosenberg, commenting from afar, agrees.)

4. A passion for neutrality and the challenge from Wiki News.

Jimmy Wales on the Wiki community, its neutrality principle and the Encyclopedia Brittanica dismissing competition from a “free” site because, after all, $350 million had been invested in the Brittanica. “Well Wikipedia is kicking its butt without having a single employee.” That’s how David Weinberger put it in his his recap of that moment, which was the most eye-opening of the conference for me. Jeff Jarvis captured it this way:

Jimbo Wales, founder of Wikipedia, says that a few years ago, nobody could have predicted that a bunch of unpaid citizens could replace the Encyclopedia Brittanica with its budget of $350 million but it happened. He said that the business model of The New York Times is not sustainable. Abramson shudders, of course. Kaplan said Wales doesn’t know what he’s talking about; he has not been in a place like Baghdad and does not know the dififculty of getting information there and does not know how the existing system can be replaced.

That was the moment of the biggest gulf. Each thought the other naive— clueless, even! But it did pass. Previously I had been skeptical about Wiki News, as many others were. But now knowing a little more about “the Wiki community,” I am re-thinking what such a network could do with news. The surprising thing to me is the emergence of a community passionate about neutrality. This, for obvious reaons, is rare— people who believe strongly in what Wales calls a neutral point of view.

The professional community of journalists, like the Wiki community, is a bunch of people who, strange as it sounds, believe strongly in the virtues of neutral description. One of the biggest advantages mainstream journalists feel they have, as providers of information, is this belief system and a knowledge of how to make it work. The Wiki people are learning how neutrality works when there are “open” conditions, rather than the closed ranks of a profession. They are also learning how to care about the neutral role, and even fight for it. A most unusual development in the life of human passions. (See Rebecca MacKinnon on her Wiki revelations.)

5. The podcasting era dawns for Powerline.

John Hinderaker of Powerline, after an extremely effective explanation by Brendan Greeley of the Public Radio Exchange, “getting” podcasting for the first time. One of the pleasures of the conference was gettng to know John a little and watching him in action.

This particular moment topped all “aha’s” because you could see the idea break across his face: now that I know what this is, we are going to be reaching way more people. And it’s true; they will. Hinderacker, of course, already has his own radio show. (A link to which I have been unable to find.)

On Friday he had written at his blog, “One of my goals was to figure out what the heck a ‘podcast’ is; no luck yet, but I’ve got another day to work on it.” Saturday he did figure it out, and it taught me why Dave Winer has the influence he does. As soon as Hinderacker realized what a podcast is, and what it doesn’t require, Hinderacker knew what do with Winer’s co-invention—the podcast—and didn’t need Winer any more, or need to agree with him. “He’s got it,” said Winer, smiling. Hinderacker posted:

Through info from our readers and a presentation I’ve just listened to here at the Blogging/Journalism conference, I now understand podcasting. More or less. This is intensely interesting to me; as most readers know, we have a radio show in addition to this site. Podcasting could offer an interesting alternative means of getting our show (or the equivalent; no radio station is necessary) out to our readers through our RSS feed. We’ll see whether anything develops out of this.

“I came to admire John Hinderaker, of Power Line, even though our politics are opposite,” said Winer at Scripting News. “We have deeper values that bind us.”

6. Keep Your Eye on the Open Archive

I made one empassioned plea during the conference, and it was on an issue I didn’t know about or care about a year ago: the open archive. Most of the big news combines have, I believe, the wrong policy— wrong for the future of the news industry, wrong for the practice of journalism, and wrong for the public on the Web. They believe in charging for their archive, and they change the urls (or Web address), meaning that all links to the original address go dead.

But link death and the pay wall are killing the news business for reasons explained by Simon Waldman of the Guardian: The Importance of Being Permanent. At the conference I asked whether the newsroom troops fully understood what the generals had decided about their work: that through this ill-fated archive policy all their good journalism will be “lost to Google, lost to bloggers, lost to online forums and conversation, lost to the long tail where value is built up.” (From the Waldman post.)

Shortly after, Weinberger’s notes show, “Bill Mitchell of Poynter says this discussion is changing his mind. He came in thinking that archives were one of the reliable sources of revenues, but now he’s thinking about the social impact of locking up the archives and about alternative business models.”

For those who wonder whether Big Journalism can change itself and get with the more open language of the Web, the key issue to watch—the signal for a big switch in philosophy—is the archive policy. My suggestion: Open archive, permanent url’s, free public access, make your money off smart advertising keyed to search, plus added-value services that make sophisticated use of the data in the archive, which you know better than anyone else because you own it and create it. Weinberger: “Jay calls upon journalists to demand this.”

In fact I do. But not just to demand it— get involved in trying to figure this thing out so that the open archive pays for itself, or even makes money.

Dan Gillmor knows way more about the economics of it and has written a knock-down post with a great title Newspapers: Open Your Archives. A must read. Gillmore suggests a strategy for how to make the open archive pay. I think his post will get the buzz going. To me, it’s the signature policy of the old regime, and that’s why any movement to reverse matters.

One more thing: News organizations, once they grasp Waldman’s argument about content accumulating in value on the Web, will figure out how to do journalism so as to continually improve the (future) value of the open archive.

A simple example would be: if you make an effort to always do the bios of the key actors when you have any sort of newsmaking public controversy, then you are always building your public actor bio file, and new products may emerge from that.

After Matter: Notes, reactions and links…

I don’t understand tags yet but I am supposed to put in.

Adrian Holovaty of “Open newspaper archives are good for the community. Forget monetization, forget maintaining newspapers’ authority, forget being higher than competitors in search rankings. Journalism exists, in its golden ideal, to spread truth and give people information that helps their lives. Journalists should advance that cause as far as possible.” And he has a compelling example.

Seth Finkelstein has some thoughts on the archive question which amount to, “A-listers take a short break from reputation enhancement and stumble into doing something kinda useful.”

Matt Stoller isn’t buying it:

Berkmaniacs still see more Dan Rathers, huge wedges of socially liberalish broadcast cheese sitting there for them to chow down on. But whatever. That stuff is fated to die. It’s the new culture of participatory Fox that is the danger, because protecting civil society means more than protecting one’s career in the emerging field of public journalism. It means taking on those who attack the public’s ability to have faith in its own judgment, the public’s ability to do journalism and participate civically. It means calling out organized propagandizing attempts and delegitimizing those who propagate them.

Or maybe I’m just wrong. After all, Intelligent Design and Evolution are both theories with evidence, right?

Mark Tapscott was listening to the webcast: “There came a point in that discussion when Jill Abrahamson of The New York Times asked in a voice that dripped with condescension if the bloggers present had any idea how much it costs the Times to maintain a Baghdad bureau. The implication was that such a bureau - i.e. infrastructure - is required to cover Iraq.” His post has a lot in it. (Link.)

I wrote this at the conference weblog last night: “The forces of denial are in retreat.”

That’s the statement with which I ended Saturday. “The forces of denial are in retreat.” Which is simply my impression—an educated guess, really—about where the mainstream journalism world is, right now, on matters of blogging, journalism, Internet, and trust. The “forces” of denial aren’t people, but tendencies within people. For a very long time, the mainstream press has tended to deny that it needs to change any of its ideas about journalism in order to survive and prosper on the new platform.”


Robert Cox, Faith Without Works. A great list of projects for the Media Bloggers Association, a group to which I belong. What I like about Cox is that he does things, a rare quality. Many of his ideas address “the problems of standing alone,” as I wrote in this post: Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over.

And Monday, Cox e-mails in with:

The “big idea” behind MBA offering CARR (computer-aided research and reporting) training is the potential for “distributed blogging”; bringing together, say 1,000 bloggers - trained and organized - to analyze a complex government document like the Federal Budget and produce a detailed analysis of the report within a matter of hours and then disseminate that information to tens of millions via a network of blogs. If you think CBS News did not like the treatment they got by bloggers, imagine how Congress will feel when they realize every bit of pork they to slip into the federal budget is going to be broadcast worldwide by an army of bloggers. Now multiply that for state and local budgets, government departments and so on.

Uh, yeah.

Steve Rubel at Micropersuasion points to Firefox: an amazing case of media tool building by citizens. “There is no greater example of the power of blogging and open source marketing than the rise of the Firefox Web browser. Firefox isn’t just a browser. It’s a religion.” And it’s working, gaining market share. Fascinating post. “Open Source Marketing 101 is in session,” says Rubel in closing, “and there will be lots more to learn.”

I too find the Firefox story pretty astonishing. But it’s very much a continuation of the narrative Ed Cone had going back in the fall of 2003, writing not about the browser wars but the political game. The Marketing of a President.

John Palfrey of the Berkman Center: “Some of the leadership may well come from people who participated, one way or another, in this conference. Some of the leaders are people lucky enough to have power today. But the leaders of this changing environment are most likely not people who are yet empowered, or well-known, or conference-goers. The leaders are most likely clacking away on laptops somewhere, editing a wikinews post or launching a blog in the long tail or carrying around a tape recorder somewhere remote.”


…it’s only the right wing bloggers who are obsessed with the notion that blogs are “self-correcting” and “more accurate than the MSM” [argh, please kill that acronym] and “big media’s being destroyed by bloggers!!!” and “I’m not a blogger I’m a freelance distributed journalist” and “Bl0gggerzzz r00l!”

While left wing bloggers are highly critical of the media, it’s rarely in that self-aggrandizing and demonstrable false kind of way.

blogging’s great, but get over yourselves.

Posted by Jay Rosen at January 23, 2005 1:15 PM   Print


I listened to & blogged most of the conference -- webcasts are so democratic in that way! Nice to hear your contributions, and I was appalled at the uncollegial, dug-into-not-getting-the-point of much of the Times' participants. And if they hire A-list bloggers, one hopes a new A list will arise.

The archive point is right on. You could have added about the archives, the NYT at least, that they are in non-copyable PDF. I used my first paid archive product recently, and had to re-type the quote, and capture the thumbnail graphic via PrintScreen and Photoshop.

Posted by: Dilys at January 23, 2005 6:49 PM | Permalink

Amazing (to me)
#1 ...Rick Kaplan, head of MSNBC...
Needs to get a grip and take the advertising off their obit pages...there is nothing tackier then advertising Johnny Carson's greatest hit on his obit a "give me a break" moment and I hope Rick get shamed into the fetal position.
#5...Hinderaker...He had to go to a conference to realize this? Hope his investors don't read this :-) Oh, and politics had to come into the picture...thanks Dave!
#6...An issue I didn't know about or care about a year ago...they believe in charging for their death and the pay wall are killing the news business (no shit).
"Open archive, permanent url's, free public access, make your money off smart advertising keyed to search, and added value services that make sophisticated use of the data in the archive" (Duhhh!)
Sorry Jay...I thought you had a handle on this...not so sure now! I guess the "A" list is more like "B" :-)

Posted by: PXLated at January 23, 2005 8:01 PM | Permalink

What intrigues me most is the place where journalists are driven by events and bloggers aren't. Exactly. Journalism and MSM gave up the high road some time ago, and now responds to politicians, interest groups, rather than setting any kind of public agenda. Because it's easier and requires less intellectual horsepower. Also, involves no debate, just the Voice of God reporting tell readers what happened.

Blogs are a much more nuanced, demanding, and intellectually powerful media. IN order to blog, you have to talk and listen. And respond. Not just talk. The best blogs are interactive, they are a weaving of ideas and possibilities. (God, I'm starting to sound like all these ga-ga, new media types!)

But my point is this: I think there are a handful of really important issues that can shape our public future. I have no faith that MSM will do much to address and solve these problems. Legislators might. Special interest groups can't. But the public, the great unwashed often-maligned public might actually have enough words and brainpower and heart to have this difficult conversation. Blogs make it possible.

I am the new speciality beat reporter in the digital age. I blog with a dozen others. We've had more substantive talk about improving schools in two months than any newspaper has in two decades.

Posted by: JennyD at January 24, 2005 5:59 AM | Permalink

First thoughts on lurking in the conference's IRC channel:

Blogger gloating that "News on the Internet is Free and ought to be" presumes that the least among us has $40/month for broadband.

Back in 1993, in "Digital Highways", I wrote about the risk of the two-tiered society -- the information haves and the have-nots. In traditional MSM, advertising shouldered 75% of the costs of providing access (printing and delivering ink smeared on paper). Sure, with no ground-up trees, the cost may be presumed to be lower... but no one factors in the access cost and the computer cost.

God has a sense of humor. That's why he created hubris.

Posted by: sbw at January 24, 2005 10:14 AM | Permalink

More thoughts while lurking on the conference IRC:

The audience presumes that the MSM organizational structure arose out of selfishness, when it actually rose from the pre-computer, vertical organizational structure of former WWII infantrymen whose top-down command-structure was essential to their survival. (Put the pink paper in the bottom drawer. Just do your job and let others do theirs.)

Only in the last ten years has distributed computing made possible a new, collaborative model -- the "front-line as the first line of management"; where the key is to educate, rely on, and empower the customer interface to make increasingly intricate knowledge-based decisions.

In other words, do not presume meglomania when, sadly, people were only doing the best they could with the tools they had.

Posted by: sbw at January 24, 2005 10:23 AM | Permalink

On the conference IRC, Nickname "Amgine" crystalized all the good sense two days of meandering talked around:

"The underlying concepts of credibility are: authority and verifiability. By transparently presenting sources, citations, etc. you develop a more reasonable expectation of credibility."

Posted by: sbw at January 24, 2005 10:26 AM | Permalink

Journalism is an effort to record the world, blogging is an attempt to be in it.

This implicitly DEFINES blogging as personal self-expression. The problem is that someone else may use another definition, and we go round and round then. It's another example of the confusion which arises from using "blogging" to mean any and all of: writing a diary, web-chatting with friends, or overall punditry.

It is absolutely true that most people writing blogs are doing diaries or chat.

But some people seem to think that professional journalists can/will be replaced by data-mining of unpaid stringers. So there is a conflict there, which doesn't change from the fact that the diarists and chatters aren't pundits.

The discussion on this point tends to recite conflicting statements which are simultaneously true or debatable, but confusing, because the definitions keep changing, and implicit some/many/all qualifiers are misunderstood.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at January 24, 2005 10:38 AM | Permalink

sbw: "Amgine" wrote, "The underlying concepts of credibility are: authority and verifiability. By transparently presenting sources, citations, etc. you develop a more reasonable expectation of credibility."

Is authority the right word anymore? Is it a holdover from "the pre-computer, vertical organizational structure of former WWII infantrymen whose top-down command-structure was essential to their survival"?

Perhaps "trust" would be better. Then it becomes: trust and verifiability. Through transparency, you enable verifiability. Through verifiability, you build trust. Through trust, you build credibility.

Posted by: Sisyphus at January 24, 2005 11:12 AM | Permalink

Yes, they are diarists, editorializers and are unpaid. They pay to publish. (although some platforms are free) That's a vanity press by definition. And it also describes the ezboard internet forum message board. It will continue to be based on the credentials of the owner writer and the accolades of readers.

Posted by: Jack Tagger at January 24, 2005 1:20 PM | Permalink

Seth: "It's another example of the confusion which arises from using "blogging" to mean any and all of: writing a diary, web-chatting with friends, or overall punditry."

I seem to recall a time, when people were still debating the merits of WordPerfect, Enable, MS Word, Lotus, ..., that typists stop being called typists and they became word processors (or data entry keyers). I always thought it odd to give the person the same functional name as the software.

Posted by: Sisyphus at January 24, 2005 3:07 PM | Permalink

Sisyphus: There's precedent. "Computer" used to be a type of job, for people who did complicated calculations. Or consider "Scribe".

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at January 24, 2005 3:20 PM | Permalink

Just to throw some alchohol on the fire:

Why does "vanity press" have such a negative connotation when compared to mainstream press?

Why does blogging not have the same negative connotation?

Posted by: Miles Fidelman at January 24, 2005 3:32 PM | Permalink

Why does "vanity press" have such a negative connotation when compared to mainstream press?

Well... There's thought that goes in to one of them.


Posted by: sbw at January 24, 2005 6:01 PM | Permalink

Yes and money, hence the editorial standards and vetting not found in vanity models.

"Anyone...can be published," to quote IBM.

Everyone one with the price can be printed. Not everyone deserves to be published.

Posted by: Jack Tagger at January 24, 2005 11:46 PM | Permalink

alcho ho ho l will do that.

Posted by: Jack Tagger at January 24, 2005 11:47 PM | Permalink

Well... I see others share my opinion of vanity presses, but nobody's responded to my question of "Why does blogging not have the same negative connotation?"

So... to make this a little more obvious, how does anybody feel about the proposition:

blogs are to journalism, as
vanity press is to publisher

Posted by: Miles Fidelman at January 25, 2005 7:17 AM | Permalink

It's because you're asking the question a vanity press writers convention :-)

Actually, among some groups, blogging does have the negative connotations of vanity press. That's the "most bloggers are teenage girls" idea.

But there's also an effect that the blog evangelists work hard to conflate the diary-writers with the very very few widely-read pundits. It's all "publishing", err, "blogging".

Note vanity press has a negative connotation, because if one's goal is to be heard by other people, having to go vanity press is the ultimate failure - nobody else cares, even for the smallest print run, you have to pay to get people to listen, you're boring or annoying them.

Redefining the goal as personal self-expression, which is successful by definition, and then switching to well-known pundits who self-publish, is often enough to work in terms of PR.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at January 25, 2005 10:48 AM | Permalink

I think that's the truth of the matter in both venues. Yes, Seth. "Mark Twain self-published," is the equivocation fallacy used by vanity deniers. He did, true. He was a successful traitionally published author at the time a priori and still went broke. The books were utmately sold to Harpers.

Posted by: Jack Tagger at January 25, 2005 1:09 PM | Permalink

Yes Jay, e-government. Along with Transparency -- why NOT have every session of every meeting of every gov't employee recorded and tracked.
"That's what they're paid for."

Some future software tools:
Tie-clip microphones -- hooked to voice actuated operating systems and computer recorders -- which simultaneously put all your VOICE words into TEXT files (some of which can be immediately deleted by voice; whole feature on/off) -- connected to a phone for voice calling -- connected to a google/ natural search engine capable of answering questions.

Like how many hits did PressThink get last week? (Technorati).

The archive open model should also be good for dynamic model prediction. Will Greenspan increase rates or keep them the same? A model is made, both scenarios are calculated. After Greenspan decides, only one scenario becomes relevant. The response could occur automatically... (Buy or Sell).

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at January 25, 2005 1:37 PM | Permalink

I'm fascinated by those who view Fox News as the root of all evil that ails the press today, instead of the view that it is a corrective for the left/liberal POV of the majority of MSM. Studies have shown that liberals are over represented in the press, but we're supposed to believe that these same liberaol journos can rise above politics/ideology/indoctrination and report neutrally. OK. Right. Whatever. Hey, I'm convinced.

Posted by: paladin at January 25, 2005 2:48 PM | Permalink

"Why does 'vanity press' have such a negative connotation when compared to mainstream press?
Why does blogging not have the same negative connotation?"

vanity press = No filtering; what the author wants to publish is what gets published.

Blogs taken as a whole are vanity presses; but popular blogs have been filtered, via reader choice.

So a randomly chosen blog will be much less informative than, say, Talking Points Memo; and to consider TPM just a "vanity press" would require willfully ignoring the filtration that's lifted it to the top.

Posted by: Anna at January 25, 2005 3:55 PM | Permalink

"The underlying concepts of credibility are: authority and verifiability. By transparently presenting sources, citations, etc. you develop a more reasonable expectation of credibility."

Another underlying concept of credibility is being willing to engage in dialog. Newspapers have traditionally been one-way media - yes readers can write letters to the editor, but the editor isn't going to address the points that get raised.
And even those newspapers that are starting to "get it" are wary of giving responders visibility - e.g. do you see my comment on this post?
(not that it was a great comment, but to see them all feels like going through a corn maze; no sane reader will have the stamina.)

Posted by: Anna at January 25, 2005 4:09 PM | Permalink

Newspapers have traditionally been one-way media - yes readers can write letters to the editor, but the editor isn't going to address the points that get raised.

Not quite correct. Most news people answer their own phones... at least until you get to the rarified air of Big Media. What is true is that the readers don't get the vicarious thrill of listening in.

So, the points get addressed. But the smug satisfaction of showing up the media is missing.

Well. Perhaps I've overstated it. But am I going to listen? You bet. So does every reporter, salesperson, and newspaper carrier.

Posted by: sbw at January 25, 2005 9:24 PM | Permalink

"have been filtered, via reader choice." I think adertising got him to the top. The Ph.D in History, and published articles in print confirms the credentials. I still disagree with the blog-mindedness factor.

Posted by: Jack Tagger at January 25, 2005 11:05 PM | Permalink

Not everyone is qualified to comment but they do.

Posted by: Jack Tagger at January 25, 2005 11:18 PM | Permalink

If there’s a continuum, it’s probably a scale of spontaneity, with Institutional at one end and Intimate at the other. It’s probably a horizontal line, and one spot is not necessarily of higher quality than another.

At the Institutional end, there are bloglike things that are actually PR devices: A “blog” by the CEO that’s a ghostwritten column with no channel for feedback or interaction, or a pop star’s record company-produced fan club blog.

Then there’s professional journalism by professional news organizations -- online, updated, sometimes of high quality and sometimes not, but with a limited amount of interaction.

Then news organizations that open up to personal expression by columnists, and are experimenting with the public conversations of blogging.

Then trained media voices who are blogging on their own time, but their training shows, for better or worse.

Then “community”-oriented blogs, more like message boards than anything else.

Then the pajamahadeen, of every stripe, who create personality-driven blogs about news, politics or pop culture, when their day jobs are usually something else.

Then bloggers who have narrower interests and smaller audiences. The auto mechanic might blog about cats. The dentist might blog about fixing classic cars.

Then individual diary keepers and journal bloggers, who write intimately to a few friends, even though it’s public and the whole world can read it.

The complicating factor is that this can be like Chutes and Ladders, and a blogger can suddenly end up at another spot on the line. A fierce partisan political junkie can turn into a cat blogger on any given day, and a teen writing in a diary can find herself in the middle of a news story, writing something the world picks up on between the intimate postings among friends.

Posted by: Brian Cubbison at January 26, 2005 2:40 AM | Permalink

> > Newspapers have traditionally been one-way media - yes readers can write letters to the editor, but the editor isn't going to address the points that get raised.

> Not quite correct. Most news people answer their own phones...So, the points get addressed.

OK Stephen, you've thrown down the gauntlet. I'm going to try an experiment to test this; will report back.

Posted by: Anna at January 26, 2005 9:21 AM | Permalink

Anna: I'm going to try an experiment to test this; will report back.

Don't you need my telephone number? ;-)

Posted by: sbw at January 26, 2005 3:01 PM | Permalink

Mr. Waters, you are a blogging publisher. Just how typical a newspaper executive do you think you are?
(note: introspection and/or projection will not be suitable for answering this question.)

Posted by: Anna at January 26, 2005 8:23 PM | Permalink

...So, the points get addressed.

Report: I hate it when you turn out to be right.

Posted by: Anna at January 27, 2005 12:02 AM | Permalink

From the Intro