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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 26, 2005

Big Wigs Confer, Part Three

At the Blogging, Journalism and Credibility conference, the highest buzz was about Wiki. How it worked. That it worked. What it could be. Charles Nesson had a word for it: WOW. That was how I felt. Read what others said.

Snowbound in Boston, I wrote a “request from a blogger,” and sent it to all the participants in the Blogging, Journalism & Credibility conference, asking for “one thing you changed your mind about” or just learned.

(AP report, for those catching up. Technorati tag is webcred. Part One of this post, “Big Wigs From the Blogging & Journalism Conference Say What They Found,” is here. It has my intro. Part two here. What’s a wiki, you say? The Wikipedia explained.)

  • Dan Gillmor (founder, Grassroots Media, Inc.; blogger; former columnist, San Jose Mercury News; author, We Media.)

1) It was heartening to hear a thread of “we’re all in this together” from participants of various leanings. There’s competition and cooperation in the wind — what some people out here call coopetition (though that word seems to translate at times in the tech world to “duopoly is less fun than monopoly, but it’s better than nothing.”

2) We’re not close to figuring out the business model either for tomorrow’s citizen journalists or today’s mass media as they make the transition to what’s coming. But we’d better, or society is the loser (see No. 1).

3) Community is the key. Whoever embraces and empowers community will have a far better chance of succeeding, no matter what form of media you work on.

4) Watch Jimmy Wales and his community for many of the lessons the rest of us need to learn. I’m still skeptical of WikiNews in a bunch of ways, but what he and his WikiPedia community have done is astonishing.

  • Charles Neeson (Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society.)

Rhetorical space. Think not of space-time as bending you but you of bending it. Understand story telling. Be a master. Why not. There is nothing else. Storytelling power is currency of the space, source of power. Not all to whom this power is entrusted use it well, for good and not for evil. Use power well.

Jimbo Wales. The Wiki, an online structure of networked human interaction that produces a knowledge product more powerful in rhetorical space than the Encyclopedia Britannica, acknowledged knowledge repository of my youth. WIKIPEDIA - product of collaborative efforts of an online community of people who can freely edit each others work. WOW!

Questions abound. Is it authentic; is it accurate; is it comprehensive; what is its business plan? Are there subjects on which the process fails, or enters and endless loop? Are there points in the process when it shuts down, or must be shut down? Are there areas of cultural division so large and passionately held that no common story can be told?

  • Ed Cone (blogger, columnist, Greensboro News-Record, senior writer at Ziff Davis Media.)

Before, I thought I had a clue about grassroots media and its possible contributions to mainstream media, as in, I thought I was clued in.

After, I realized I had a clue, as in, I had some leads but hardly the whole story. Stuff I was aware of, like Wikipedia and podcasting, I began to understand in much more detail. And stuff like Buzenberg’s database, and the impact of blogs on MSNBC ratings, showed me that I have only started to grasp the power the Web can give people and the institutions that respect them.

Reaffirmed: my belief in the value of face-to-face conversation and fellowship among people of diverse outlook and experience.”

  • Jan Schaffer (Executive Director, J-Lab, The Institute for Interactive Journalism, University of Maryland; former Executive Director, Pew Center for Civic Journalism; former business editor and reporter, Philadelphia Inquirer.)

The rise of Blogs, Wikis, Citizen Journalism, even MPR’s Public Insight database suggest an appetite for active involvement, small-d democracy as John Palfrey noted. But this time the gateways, funnels even, are new forms of media. These new media allow ordinary citizens to create content, correct it when necessary, challenge conventional wisdom and, when aroused, move to action.

So, while content may be moving out of the “container,” as I believe Jim Kennedy observed, so, it seems to me, are political and civic participation. Put them all together and they could inaugurate an exciting Era of Guerrilla Journalism.

Guerrilla Journalism says that too much of what we’re now producing is constrained by journalistic conventions that no longer safeguard the product. And so much of what we are producing is just more me-too noise. Could we produce the kind of journalism that would cause our audiences to stand up and take notice? Journalism that is totally out front of the mainstream media— not reactive or playing catch up. Not easily spun. Powerfully informative.

The mindset should be zagging instead of zigging. I consider guerrilla journalism to be journalism that zags — away from conventional wisdom, above the fray of feuding candidates, and never stooping to stenography.

So what does it look like? In my mind, it is heavily steeped in database reporting. It connects the dots on meta issues to give readers “news epiphanies.” And it is heavily visual or graphic— the better to avoid the conventions of he said/she said reporting or the pitfalls of false equivalencies.

The surprise: I’ve been under the impression that there’s a simmering conflict between bloggers and wikipedians. Bloggers tend to be building their personal brands; wikipedians tend to follow a self-effacing, monastic model of knowledge.

But this conference reminded me that both camps are firmly in the ‘amateur’ camp - where ‘amateur’ doesn’t mean ‘unprofessional’, but ‘motivated by love, not by financial remuneration’. I was surprised and pleased to see bloggers and wikipedians find common ground so quickly around common passions.

The reminder: Most ideological conflicts look much smaller when groups that disagree meet in the same room. And even smaller when they eat dinner together.”

  • Walter Bender (Executive Director and Senior Research Scientist, MIT Media Lab, early advocate of the “daily me.”)

The fundamental—but not insurmountable—challenge facing blogging: the lack of an editorial process. To paraphrase Don Murray, columnist for the Boston Globe, the three secrets to great writing are: (1) revise; (2) revise; and (3) revise.

I was surprised at the attempt to marginalize the work of Jimmy Wales during the Friday afternoon discussion, as I still think that part of the solution will be found by taking a closer look at Wikis. That said, I also still think that one of the real strengths of the Blogosphere is that it isn’t plumb.”

I use Wikipedia, know some Wikipedians, and am familiar with Wikinews and the controversies surrounding its start. But like Ethan I thought that we were moving towards a world of “blogs vs. wikis” and “transparency vs. Neutral Point of View.” (NPOV)

I have argued in the past that NPOV is impossible and particularly undesirable for citizens’ journalism. But after listening to Jimbo, I realize that saying “it can’t be done” would be like scoffing at Ted Turner’s idea of a 24-hour TV news network. Now I think: “it just might be possible.”

In cyberspace, ideas no longer need clear plans to create something revolutionary. Your community organically takes your idea and runs with it, shaping it into whatever they need that they don’t already have. Craigslist is an excellent—and profitable—example, though Craig isn’t doing news, yet. (I’m betting he will.)

This kind of approach to media innovation doesn’t strike me as very appealing, however, to corporate boards and shareholders of companies that own news organizations. Which is why the future belongs outside of corporate concentrated media.

  • Zephyr Teachout (fellow, Berkman Center, former director of Internet Outreach, Howard Dean campaign.)

I thought that Wikipedia was a community dedicated to openness first, product second. And I learned that they are first and foremost a purpose-based community, with openness as a critical principle, but a secondary one.

Jonathan Zittrain pointed out on day two that it’s pretty clear that no one at Wal-Mart has taken a look at the Wal-Mart Wiki page. He suggested that this was not likely to be the case for long, and that PR flacks were going to start figuring out how to use the Wikipedia (they’re already figuring out how to use blogs).

As a former PR flack myself, I think that he’s absolutely right. This, more than anything else that came out of the conference, changed the way I think. Blogs and traditional media share—with some notable exceptions—the general conviction that information should get out so that a democracy can make its choices.

But corporations, even benign ones, have an interest in controlling the release of information. As the webcredders hash it out among themselves, a third party is watching and learning how to adapt, a party that won’t necessarily hold ideals in conflict with ours, but also can’t be implicitly trusted not to. You don’t have to be a member of the tinfoil-hat crowd to be concerned about this.

I went into the conference thinking: Hmm, well, blogging, sure, fine, but I don’t have the time. What I need to do is get in touch with the blogging community to build bridges between that community and the wiki community.” But a dozen different things that people said made me realize that the way to get in touch with the blogging community is: blog.

The Wiki world has even more potential than I imagined. I am going to be trying to learn more about it as I work through how to re-design my own website for the next four years.

Bloggers seem to be struggling with the same questions that old-style journalists have worked over for decades: anonymous sources, ethics, conflicts, disclosure, standards. I suspect they will eventually come to many of the same conclusions, one of which is that there will never be agreement on a way to enforce standards. Another is that, in the end, individual bloggers will get the credibility and respect that they earn in the marketplace, just like older news organizations.

I think the real divide is between those bloggers who are mostly analysts or editorialists, and those old-style reporters who mostly aim to report facts and try (with greater or lesser degrees of success) to keep their opinions and personalities out of what they publish.

Bloggers are ill prepared to deal with the tests they will be facing soon, mainly how to deal with lawsuits. I doubt that pro-bono legal representation will go very far in keeping a blogger going in the face of a big libel suit from a determined corporate opponent, or from an aggressive prosecutor. I suspect blogging is (legally speaking) right now about where Napster was, before the record industry went after it.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

Part One of this post, “Big Wigs From the Blogging & Journalism Conference Say What They Found.”

Part Two of this post: 20 minutes into the future with bloggers, journalists and new media.

David Berlind, Is big media getting the picture?

Posted by Jay Rosen at January 26, 2005 3:40 PM   Print


Well I personally only have much experience with Wikis as "group documentation"-type projects, specifically oriented around software or a programming language (where they originated mostly). And to sum up that experience, I came across a quote that states it better than I could:

... Start collecting an organized FAQ with detailed answers. Right now the Rails folks put everything in a Wiki, which is Hawaiian for "can't find shit." ...

That said, they still serve a vital purpose. But they need to evolve and improve to more fully realize their potential.

Posted by: ToddG at January 27, 2005 12:46 AM | Permalink

From the Intro