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Like PressThink? More from the same pen:

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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February 4, 2005

Publishing News at PressThink

It was announced today at Publishers Marketplace as their "deal of the day." And it was in Publisher's Lunch, a popular e-mail alert. Gatekeepers Without Gates, my book project, has been greenlighted.

It was announced today at Publishers Marketplace (a pay site for industry players) under the heading “deal of the day.” And it was in Publisher’s Lunch: “Jay Rosen on how the Internet is changing media.”

The deal is: I have agreed to a contract with Times Books, a division of Henry Holt, to write a book about the press and everything that is happening to it in these days of the Internet. The working title (although this will probably change) is Gatekeepers Without Gates. If all goes well, it will be out sometime in 2006, hopefully sooner rather than later in the year.

Transparency Time

Times Books is a joint venture between the New York Times, flagship of the American press, and Henry Holt, the publishing house. The official history goes like this:

The New York Times Company bought Quadrangle Books, a Chicago book publisher, in 1969, changing the name to Times Books in 1977. But the forces of consolidation were at work against these smaller operations. In 1984, the Times licensed the imprint to Random House, and the editorial operation of Times Books moved there, to become a unit of a much larger firm.

The agreement with Random House expired in December of 1999. The Times Company owned the rights to Times Books, but chose not to re-launch it without a major publisher as partner, so the imprint faded for a while. In July 2000, The Times and Holtzbrinck Publishers, U.S. arm of the German global media company, announced an agreement to re-launch it.

Henry Holt and Company replaced Random House. The operation moved from Midtown to W. 18th Street in New York. Since the spring of 2001, Times Books is alive again as a joint venture between Holt (a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers) and the New York Times Company. The editorial director of Times Books is Paul Golob, who used to be at Public Affairs Books. He made the final decision. He also understands the book I want to write. He’s a fan of PressThink.

I will get more precise information on it soon, but it’s correct to say that publishing Gatekeepers Without Gates, or whatever it ends up being called, is a co-venture between Henry Holt and the New York Times Company. So that’s who’s publishing my book.

The question naturally comes: You’re a press critic, you write about the New York Times all the time (like… yesterday) and they’re involved in co-publishing your book. Did the conflict alarm go off?

Yes. The Times Company publishes the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and some smaller newspapers, any one of which I might write about. So the potential conflicts are numerous. The Times is a media company; not the same kind as a giant like Viacom, but a media company nonetheless. It has interests, stakes and “holdings.” Times Books is one.

PressThink readers are entitled to draw whatever conclusions they wish, and apply any discount rate they choose, to what I say, now that they know who is publishing my book (or planning to.) Between me as author and the journalists at the New York Times there is Henry Holt, a publishing house of high reputation, and the people who run the imprint, Times Books. Most especially there is Paul Golob, editorial director, and Robin Dennis, my editor. My agent, Kate Lee of ICM, recommended the match and thinks the book will be wanted there.

By agreeing to the deal, I trust in their professionalism; and I feel I have ample reason to do so. If you were to ask me why I felt comfortable with Times Books as my publisher, for a book that will look critically at the New York Times (and the Boston Globe, and others) one answer would be those people and their colleagues and the high standard they have set.

Another answer would be that it’s an advantage, and an honor, to be part of a publishing imprint that somehow connects back to the press, and to such principles of public service as animate the New York Times and its people. Such a publisher might better understand what I am up to. It’s in the DNA.

Perhaps that’s more than an author should have to say in announcing a simple book deal. Or not enough. Who knows? But in my Q and A about PressThink I said to readers: here’s where I’m coming from, I am not a neutral agent at all. (“My views on issues would be standard Upper West Side Liberal Jewish babyboomer— even though I don’t live in that neighborhood.”) That’s my blogger disclosure form. This is a continuation of that.

Yeah, but what about the book?

When I was in graduate school, I took a course in psychology that was simply a series of challenging psychology books, and a teacher who knew them all, very well, having taught the list before. (All my good courses were that way.)

In the next to last week of the term, he put aside his notes and the text for that week, and let us in on something. “In any good course,” he said, “there’s the reading list, the books you are assigned, which we discuss, and there is the Secret Book.” The students exchanged glances. “That’s the one not on the list. It’s the book I had to read in order to make this list, and teach this course.” We were starting to get it. “I am now going to tell you about the Secret Book.”

And he did, bringing it out of his briefcase to show us. (I still have my copy of the book, Changing Nature of Man: Introduction to a Historical Psychology by Jan Hendrick Van Den Berg.) This was the single most effective teaching trick I ever encountered, for we had all read the Secret Book by the final week of class. Therefore he could give the lecture that could only be given to those who had met the text with the same intensity he had. The Secret Book. What an idea!

But it doesn’t work if the book remains a secret. Gatekeepers Without Gates (a working title) I envision as the “secret book” behind the week-to-week posting at PressThink. Of course, that’s just a figure of speech. I could also say: the book will be the backstory to the story you can follow by clicking in here. A different figure of speech. For a preview of sorts, see Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over.

I will keep this weblog going; it’s working too well to stop. (You may see other writers more, or bigger changes if I can raise the money.) There’s no doubt PressThink got the publisher interested in the possibilities for this book. In my case, the blog was like a “live” proposal, where there is activity day and night. I haven’t decided whether to do a special blog for the book. (Some do that; see The Long Tail: “A public diary on the way to a book,” or the blog for Darknet.) For now, not.

I’m excited about the deal; of course a book is a lot of work. (“Like pushing a mountain through your head,” says a friend who’s done it.) Just describing where we are in journalism today is daunting. Measuring up to Dan Gillmor’s We the Media— equally daunting.

“More is up for grabs than has ever been up for grabs since I started my watch,” I said in Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over. I believe that. The book I hope to write essentially begins there.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

I will be happy to explain more in the comments for those who are interested. And of course you are invited to tell me what my book should be about.

Publisher’s Markerplace announcement: “Jay Rosen’s book on the media, exploring the ways in which the Internet has transformed, and will continue to transform, the press through web logs and other interactive forms, including a look at why an interactive, open-source press is gaining public support and views on what big media corporations and journalists must do to regain the public’s trust, to Robin Dennis at Times Books, by Kate Lee at ICM (world).”

Posted by Jay Rosen at February 4, 2005 3:02 PM   Print


Congratulations on this challenging and important project, Jay. I think the recent brouhaha is instructive. The Big Topic is the impact of the Net, its practices, incentives, mores, Cluetrain phenomena, etc., on journalism. Blogs have had an impact that is particularly noticeable, and illustrate/prefigure what can be expected, but they are a subcategory of something larger.

Posted by: Dilys at February 4, 2005 3:30 PM | Permalink

Conundrum: if you make a policy of disclosure, and you're involved in not-yet-public negotiations, and you're faced with a case where both writing about a topical subject (involving the negotiator) AND not writing about it will convey meaning to your there anything, ethically, that you can do?

or what if you aren't in negotiations yet, but it's conceivable that you might be in future?

mind boggles...back to work...but congratulations.

Posted by: Anna at February 4, 2005 3:45 PM | Permalink

Fristly, Con'grats on being endorsed for the project!!

Secondly, will you follow transparency as you go thru the rigour of your project ?? i.e blog away chapter outlines and engage in converstations, as your project moves forward ??

Posted by: /pd at February 4, 2005 4:01 PM | Permalink

Good luck, Jay.

Posted by: praktike at February 4, 2005 4:06 PM | Permalink

Ah Jay...I expect to see you on The Daily Show some day talking about this book. Its the kind of topic Jon Stewart loves. I hope you publish it before he leaves the show.

Posted by: catrina at February 4, 2005 4:51 PM | Permalink

Congratulations, Jay. It's going to be a tough write, because I suspect chapters will be outdated by the time they're finished, eh?

Where do I get my autographed copy?

Posted by: Terry Heaton at February 4, 2005 5:19 PM | Permalink


Posted by: Matt Stoller at February 4, 2005 5:51 PM | Permalink

Thanks, Matt, Cat & Prak.

Terry: How not to write an instantly outdated book is one of the biggest problems I face, yes.

Pd: I won't be posting chapter outlines, no. Or drafts. I have been using the blog to do the book all along, testing ideas and working out the main lines of thought, but I doubt I will use it in the ways you suggest.

Yes, Anna, the mind boggles.

Dilys: Yes, to what you said. It's the Net. I see the book as being maybe 20 percent about weblogs.

Thanks to all for the kind words.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 4, 2005 7:11 PM | Permalink

Congratulations, Jay! I loved Dan Gillmor's book, and I can hardly wait to read yours. One suggestion from a twice-bitten author: ask _now_ about the promotion budget and plan for your book. It may be too early to get real answers, but it's not too early to ask.

Posted by: Betsy Devine at February 4, 2005 7:23 PM | Permalink

First, congratulations!

Second, have some nice rugolach from the 2nd Ave Deli.

Third, don't worry about the "problem" of the Times being your publisher. Use the opportunity to get inside every door you can at the Times and tell us what they do. Not just the Times the paper, but the Times the media company. Especially the media company. This is the big black hole in public knowledge, every other industry is under constant watch, except the media industry. That's a bug.

Posted by: Dave Winer at February 4, 2005 7:45 PM | Permalink

Congratulations, Jay!!

Posted by: Rebecca MacKinnon at February 4, 2005 7:45 PM | Permalink

Terrific, Jay... Whatever you do, keep Bill's name in the title! Oh... and in the interest of interactive media and the continuing conversation, lean on the publisher to print it with wide margins for discussion. (Seriously. There's at least one good book that I won't use in class because the pages are so poorly designed for student use.)

Best wishes on the project.

Posted by: Bob Stepno at February 4, 2005 7:47 PM | Permalink

A cautionary tale about book publishing and the web here, via Brad DeLong.

Here's hoping that Times Books shares no DNA with CRC Press.

Posted by: Anna at February 4, 2005 8:28 PM | Permalink

Prof. Rosen,

I will just echo others' well wishes here, as I am mostly a lurker on this site, and very rarely comment on any of the others I read for that matter. Yes, it is a work conflict, but... congratulations anyhow and best of luck.

By the way, this comment section looks like a Murderers' Row of enlightened media people. Rather intimidating, to me anyhow.

I'm sure the finished text wil be as mentally challenging and rewarding as this blog is and has been to me. I can't always keep up, but I try.


Posted by: Mark at February 4, 2005 9:14 PM | Permalink

And just the other day I was thinking how great it would be to have all your posts of the last, say, 18 months in print.

Sight unseen, I plan to use it as a textbook in the media courses I teach.

Congratulations not just on the book, but of driving so much of what so many of us are thinking about when it comes to the future of media.

Posted by: Mark Hamilton at February 4, 2005 9:45 PM | Permalink

Thanks, Dave; I'm not all that worried about the conflicts, but I did want to explain it thoroughly at least once. Now I have a url to point to when it comes up again.

Betsy: I did ask quite a few questions about publicity and such. The trouble is I can do way more for myself than, say, buying a few ads would do for the book. The media interest will be there; Holt knows that.

I am battling a perception that a.) media books don't sell, even though they generate a lot of interest among the chattering classes, and b.) a blogger is likely to have given away for free what the book publisher is asking people to buy. Fairly or unfairly, that is what I was up against.

I haven't figured out how to attack this yet. Suggestions welcome.

Rebecca: your post was lovely. Thanks.

Bob: I will definitely make that point about the margins; thanks. I know exactly what you mean. If the page is too crowded, I won't assign the book.

First Mark: it might surprise you to know that people who participate in the way you do are the mainstays of any blog like mine. Whom do you think all these comments are for? The lurkers! You speak for many PressThink readers, is what I'm trying to say. There are lots who never say a thing, and there's no reason they should until they want to.

Mark Hamilton: you are most kind.

Right now the puzzle I'm trying to solve is how not to write a book that grows "dated " quickly. Lots of different answers to that one. Tell a great story, with memorable characters-- that's one. Others?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 4, 2005 11:09 PM | Permalink

"Amusing Ourselves To Death" by former nyu professor Neil Postman had a great impact on my thinking as an undergraduate. heres hoping your output will be equally engaging and useful.

but really, for "authentic" rugalach one must go to Gertel's on Hester.

Posted by: drat fink at February 5, 2005 10:01 AM | Permalink

Congrats Jay. I know your book is going to be great.

btw, the name of Dan's book is "We the Media". he wrote the foreward to our lengthy paper for API on the same subject, "We Media."

Posted by: Shayne Bowman at February 5, 2005 12:30 PM | Permalink

One ICM client to another, well done.

Posted by: Kevin Smokler at February 5, 2005 6:27 PM | Permalink


Are you going to put a draft online like Dan Gillmor?

Posted by: Patterico at February 6, 2005 4:46 AM | Permalink

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends and the most patient of teachers.
- Charles W. Elliot

We need great teachers, desperate wives or not!

Posted by: Jozef Imrich at February 6, 2005 5:09 AM | Permalink

And just the other day I was thinking how great it would be to have all your posts of the last, say, 18 months in print.

Which of course is eminently doable, even if only as a DIY via something like Cafepress or Lulu (I use the latter).

Posted by: The One True b!X at February 6, 2005 6:14 AM | Permalink

Thanks, Kevin. I am very happy with ICM; without Kate Lee I would not have gotten this contract.

Patterico: I said above that I am not planning to put a draft online. I'm not convinced that it's a good idea for this project, although for other books it works out just fine. I feel there has to be a sense of occasion about a book like mine, and posting chapters defeats that. However, I will be testing out, at PressThink, ideas that will be in the book. Of course that's been happening all along.

Thanks, Jozef. I like Media Dragon.

bix: you are a treasure.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 6, 2005 5:35 PM | Permalink

Jay, add one more hosannah (if hosannahs can be singular) to the chorus. One of the most encouraging developments in journalism I've seen in many a year is the ascendance of practitioner/critics such as you, Dan Gillmor, Tim Porter and others struggling to find journalism's soul. A decade back I might have thought this quixotic. Now I'm more optimistic.

Posted by: Roger Karraker at February 6, 2005 9:09 PM | Permalink

"Gatekeepers Without Gates"? They all use Linux?

Posted by: Michael Froomkin at February 7, 2005 8:25 AM | Permalink

Missed that comment. Sorry.

Posted by: Patterico at February 7, 2005 9:23 AM | Permalink

Congrats, Jay. If you'd like some thoughts about how to set up a wiki or reader feedback loop on your blog as you begin writing the book, let me know.

Posted by: JD Lasica at February 7, 2005 7:27 PM | Permalink

Roger: I'm more optimistic than I was in '95, as well. There is a greater recognition of problems today, and the Net is forcing innovation.

JD: I may take you up on that. How did it work with Darknet?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 8, 2005 9:05 AM | Permalink


Posted by: Lisa Stone at February 8, 2005 12:23 PM | Permalink

congrats uncle. sheesh, i had to find out on your blog! not going to title it: "what are bloggers for?" :P glad to see you are getting published again. looking forward to getting a copy, i wont make you sign it.

Posted by: juls at February 9, 2005 3:45 PM | Permalink

From the Intro