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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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April 17, 2005

All Regimes Are Founded on Opinion: Two Letters to PressThink

A pastor in Ohio says that mainline churches have had the same model of professionalism that is causing such problems in mainstream journalism. A volunteer in Northfield, MN says that when public officials start weblogs, it makes local blogging more vital.

That all governments are founded on opinion is a famous maxim from the political philosopher David Hume (1711-1776.) Here it is in context (Hume’s essay “Of the First Principles of Gobvernment.”)

NOTHING appears more surprizing to those, who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we enquire by what means this wonder is effected, we shall find, that, as FORCE is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.

Among those to discover the truth of Hume’s maxim, the most spectacular case in recent times was of course Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, whose power crumbed before his eyes. Bruce Nelan in Time magazine made note of it a week after Ceausescu’s execution on Christmas Day, 1989.

“A dictator falls when fear changes sides, when individuals coalesce into crowds and defy him,” Nelan wrote. “Emboldened by the discovery that they are not alone, they take to the streets and squares to protest, and they learn — though sometimes at great cost — that no tyrant can kill or arrest an entire nation.”

“Opinion” in Hume’s sense, which is not yet “public” opinion, was the decisive factor in the velvet revolutions in Eastern Europe, where the reluctance to attack one’s own people among policemen and soldiers—their opinion that this would be a terrible crime, and a stain on themselves that would last forever—led to peaceful regime change.

But it’s not just government. Bill Gates is speaking Hume’s language when he says that Microsoft is always three years away from extinction. As it was for the regime in Romania, so it is for the regime in Redmond, and so for the professional regime in journalism: it too is founded on opinion, in a far deeper way than polls can ever measure.

Yesterday I received a letter from Jeff Gill, a pastor (Disciples of Christ) in Granville, OH. It’s about how all newspapers—and all churches—are founded on opinion; when opinion shifts the foundations will rock. Those who have built their professional house on it may forget what the foundation is made of. They start to see themselves as the solid thing.

Gill is also a “Faith Works” columnist for the local daily, The Newark Advocate. He says, “As a pastor I have a very real sense of the importance of local dailies and even crappy ol’ free weeklies to build community, or foment division if that’s what clarity brings. Some regular platform for cueing the 20 percent of any town, village, or city that actually get things done as to what needs doing, or stopping, is incredibly important. I can’t figure out what that would look like in Midwestern communities without a newspaper, but I’m afraid that folks who are concerned about big-C Community had better start imagining, fast.”

Here’s his letter:

“There is no loyalty to the mechanism, not because loyalties changed, but because they were never loyal to the mechanism in the first place.”

OK, so i’m late to this party, but as a columnist in two papers and a 20+ year pastor, i couldn’t not share this thought with you after reading this quote from Matt Welch in your post, “laying the newspaper down” gently or not…
In case you didn’t notice, Shaw thinks he and his colleagues are “accurate and fair”…. This, I believe, is the nut of his real objection — that the weird, ahistorical 1960-2000 period of newspaper consolidation, and the “professionalization” that came with it, produced a monochromatic culture of trying-to-be-fair newsgathering that Shaw believes is basically the only legitimate form of journalism. It’s an incredibly conservative and arrogant view.

That, sir, is exactly what Mainline/Oldline Protestant Churches did in the post-WWII period; the huge influx of thankful vets and Boom Babies masked systemic problems that went back before even WWI, and as downtown churches and regional/national structures consolidated and calcified, they pushed aggressively a model of clergy “professionalism” that left them utterly unable to respond to the entreprenurial surge of untrained, personally motivated new start-ups of the Assemblies of God, COGIG, Vineyard, WillowCreek, and Saddleback approaches. The world they built was based on a “weird, ahistorical 1960-2000 period” and many national and regional structures still can’t comprehend what’s going on.

Add to that a recent uptick in bequests from dying WWII era folk that mask the final drawdowns on endowments, etc., and a new found appreciation for stewardship and tithing preaching from even liberal pastors, which has pushed per capita giving up enough to cover the decline in total numbers, and you have…

Well, it looks a lot like the newsprint and ink world to me. The core function of communicating to and between people is still vital and necessary, but when the mechanism for doing it breaks down, folk will find one that works, no matter what it looks like. There is no loyalty to the mechanism, not because loyalties changed, but because they were never loyal to the mechanism in the first place. Their connection is to the community that’s created, and the sentiments about the delivery mechanism were no deeper than, well, sentiment.

This ties both newspapers and oldstyle programmatic, board/committee driven churches together, with Masters of Divinity/seminary trained pastors and J-school journalists in the same leaky boat. It’s not that they don’t “like” us or stopped “liking” us: they never “liked” us, they liked and even love the community we helped to deliver and maintain. Stop doing that, and they move to the light and warmth of company and community somewhere else.

And if you’ve read this far: what happens when advertisers stop believing that advertising works? When they realize that everyone else dumps the inserts and the bagpacks and the fliers in the trash first, just like they do? And when enough old hardbitten used car and appliance traders finally go to the internet and classifieds go entirely digital, won’t the Emperor catch a breeze in his hinder parts?

Jeff Gill
Granville, OH

Another letter came yesterday from Griff Wigley of, (Citizen Wig) who could have been featured in my citizen journalism survey post, Are You Ready For a Brand New Beat? He wrote to tell me about his nonprofit, which is trying to get the civic leadership in town to start blogging, under the theory that while having a few local bloggers and an aggregator page may not mean much, it starts to get interesting when the police chief, a member of the local school board, and a state representative, to name three, are actively participating. Even local governments, after all, are founded on opinion. A public official’s weblog is a recognition of that, but also a new way of imagining the job. Here’s Griff Wigley’s letter:

“We’re getting a view of these leaders in a way that’s not typical. And their blogging gives the citizen bloggers good stuff to blog about.”

I’m a volunteer for a community web site called in my hometown of Northfield, Minnesota. It’s run by a non-profit, Northfield Citizens Online. In late 2003, we started a Civic Blogosphere Project, where we began putting weblogs in the hands of the local citizenry.

A few months later, we decided to include local political candidates who were running for office in hopes that they’d continue blogging after they won. Our thought was that blogging which focused on leadership, problem-solving, and listening would be considerably more interesting and helpful than the usual campaign-style blogging. (It’s always bugged me when political candidates start blogs during election season but then don’t continue blogging when they win. It’s as if they’re saying, “I’m only interested in communicating with you, my fellow citizens, when I need your vote.” )

Having made the leap to politicians-in-office-as-bloggers, we also began trying to include others who we considered to be civic leaders. Our current crop includes a city council member, a county commissioner, the police chief, a school board member, a state representative, two planning commissioners, and several non-profit executives and board members.

Here’s what we’re learning about civic leader bloggers:

1.) They need help learning the technical skills of blogging while they learn the art of leadership blogging. We recently held a community education class for them, and continue to offer coaching via phone, face-to-face, and email.

2.) Their blogging makes our local civic blogosphere more interesting for the citizenry. We’re getting a view of these leaders in a way that’s not typical. And their blogging gives the citizen bloggers good stuff to blog about, in much the same way that mainstream media fuels the blogging of bloggers everywhere.

3.) Their blogging makes the whole project have more impact, influence, and relevance. A local blogosphere project that consists solely of citizen bloggers, especially one without a local news media partner, might take considerably longer to gain in stature in the eyes of the community.

This project has drawn the attention of government officials in U.K. who recently hired me to be the weblog coach for a local e-democracy project called ReadMyDay. I’ve been working with a dozen city councillors and senior-level city managers to learn the art of civic leadership blogging. (See this white paper about it, a pdf file.)

Griff Wigley, Volunteer
Northfield Citizens Online

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

Education blogger Jenny D, an ex-journalist, writes in comments:

… public education is in the same boat as journalism. It’s an institution founded on opinion, rather than specialized technology of a profession. Thus, it’s under fire. Although educators rose to prominence in the Progressive Era, using IQ tests as their professional technology, rather than “objective” reporting.

Read about the rising demand for accountability in the PR world, another regime founded on opinion.

Greensboro News-Record Editor John Robinson on Welcoming the public policy makers to blogging.

My hope is that, as public servants, they embrace the potential before them, and they use their blogs to further the principles of democracy, and develop the sites as places to give and get information and knowledge. What a wonderful way, for instance, to illuminate the council’s thinking on a contentious issue or perhaps reveal some of the civic conversation that takes place behind closed doors.

Here’s the newspaper’s list of local politicians with weblogs.

Texas State Representative Aaron Pena (Austin area) has a blog, which recently linked to PressThink in a post about shield laws for reporters and bloggers.

“The boat may be leaking, but I prefer it to a cruise with Kathy Lee.” Jeff Jarvis’s sister, Cindy Jarvis, is a Presbyterian minister (here.) She had this reaction to Gill’s letter:

Utilitarian religion that “works” (meaning numbers—headcount plus bucks) has always had sex appeal… well, you know what I mean. The mainline churches have looked to the mega-churches for technique, forgetting “the substance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen” that have, over the centuries, given people both a ground on which to stand (a perspective both complex and comforting) and lent to daily life a meaning that does not rise and fall with the NYTimes best seller list.

Given that people engage their minds in every other aspect of human existence, the guess that glitz and manufactured emotions will do for those matters of ultimate importance is a trend that will last about as long as children’s sugared cereal in the stomach of a seriously hungry adult.

Brother Jeff Jarvis says we’re at a tipping point with citizen’s media:

I know of the heads of at least three national TV news operations who are eager to incorporate citizens’ media; I know of more newspaper editors who are finally sidling up to the concept. I hear less and less of the dismissive jabs from big-time editors about small-time citizen journalists. Blogs are now a regular feature on MSNBC and CNN. Bloggers are getting quoted in newspapers and credited with big stories (Trent, Dan, et al). Newspapers are getting published with citizens’ news.

It’s spreading. It’s tipping.

Alan Mutter, at Reflections of a Newsosaur, on the big companies in the newspaper industry:

So, not only are credibility, circulation and market share crumbling, but stock prices are falling, too. Why?

The market moves for many mysterious reasons, but this one is obvious: Investors, who generally like to bet on the long-term upside of a company, are worried that the publishers don’t have a plan for the future of the newspaper business.

While existing shareholders for the moment may be comfortable harvesting the properties for profits, there is not enough new money confident in the long-term prospects for newspapers to lift the value of their stocks.

In other words, stock prices are founded on opinion.

Reporter Michael Liedtke of Business Week on the meeting of the Newspaper Association of America (publishers group):

“There are pockets of people within every (newspaper) who think we should be doing more on the Internet, but there are also other pockets of people who wish it would just all go away,” said Ian Murdock, senior vice president of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Not likely.

OhmyNews is going global. The citizen journalism sensation in South Korea “has started a citizen reporter login system where anyone around the world with an internet connection can participate,” according to this account in Editors Weblog. Equally informative is this interview with Jean K. Min, Director of OhmyNews International.

Barista of Bloomfield Avenue—featured in Are You Ready…? — pointed me to Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, a sharp, witty and good-looking neighborhood weblog for the Park Slope area of the world’s most famous borough.

Eight is Enough. Copy editors, take note:

I think that’s enough for what was a pretty bad pun to begin with.

Jack Shafer writes in praise of Romenesko. Who am I to argue?

Terry Teachout is taking citizens media into the arts:

One piece of good news is that arts journalism is being transformed before our eyes by the rise of Web-based new media—and just in the nick of time. The old mass media were and are zero-sum operations, as advocates of literary fiction have been discovering to their dismay in recent years. Allocate more space (or air time) to one topic and you have that much less space available for all other topics: novels compete with memoirs, classical music with jazz, theater with film, indie flicks with special-effects extravaganzas. Now that most of us live in one-newspaper towns, and now that newspapers themselves are struggling for survival, that’s turned into an iron law.

The Web is different: it permits you to publish a “newspaper” or “magazine” of your very own without having to pay for ink, paper, bricks, and mortar—much less a graduate degree in journalism. What it doesn’t guarantee, however, is that such “newspapers” will ever be read by millions of people, or that their publishers will be able to give up their day jobs. Artblogging will never be a true mass medium because serious art doesn’t appeal to a mass audience. And what’s wrong with that? Bigger isn’t better, and the world doesn’t owe artists a living, much less critics and editors.

Read Teachout’s Eternally obsolete. It’s about art, technics, cultural shifts and what the Web has wrought in his lair. I love the way this discussion is exploding.

Via Ed Cone, this from Howard Fineman of Newsweek: “Professional journalist is an oxymoron.”

First the bad news from Howard Kurtz: Reporters are facing a “growing tide of personal attacks by bloggers and e-mailers.” Now the good news, from the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank:

Milbank says there are “nasties” on the left and right and during the campaign “both decided I was full of it and hopelessly biased. There’s so much noise that you have to tune it out.”

Right Wing News generates some news by asking “A List” webloggers on the Right side of things to name their own A List of Right side bloggers. Interesting, if you know the blogs…

I’ve said before that a weblog is a little First Amendment machine. This account from the New York Times, “When the Blogger Blogs, Can the Employer Intervene?” is all about that.

Posted by Jay Rosen at April 17, 2005 10:57 AM   Print


This is good stuff, Jay. What I like most is that nobody's organizing this kind of thinking. I believe we call this "bottom-up."

Posted by: Terry Heaton at April 17, 2005 11:28 AM | Permalink

Thanks for promoting ideas Jay, instead of culture war, bias wars and partisan wars.

Posted by: kilgore trout at April 17, 2005 3:27 PM | Permalink

Rep. Pena in Texas actually just launched a group blog for legislators because, when he encouraged them to blog, they didn't have the technical chops and were unsure about it all. He's trying to get them to try it out there and then launch their own. He's a real blog evangelist.

Some local techies are already discussing a training in Austin for legislative bloggers as you mention. If it's not done before the session ends in six weeks, something like that'll surely be done in TX before the next one, I'll bet, in '07. Best,

Posted by: Scott Henson at April 18, 2005 10:33 AM | Permalink

Nice letter from the pastor. I just finished writing (and submitting) a paper for the Barnard Prize, in which I argued that public education is in the same boat as journalism. It's an institution founded on opinion, rather than specialized technology of a profession. Thus, it's under fire. Although educators rose to prominence in the Progressive Era, using IQ tests as their professional technology, rather than "objective" reporting.

Daniel Carpenter, a historian who studies public policy at Harvard, wrote this in his book about the rise of public agencies and institutions:

"Autonomy arises when bureaucrats successfully practice a politics of legitimacy. It occurs when agency leaders build reputations for their organization—reputations for efficacy, for uniqueness of service, for moral protection, and for expertise."

Interestingly, Carpenter did not study how agencies lose power, but I suspect it's the opposite--when their reputation begins to crumble.

Posted by: JennyD at April 18, 2005 12:45 PM | Permalink

Jay, Hume was wrong on that point, as on so much else. As Publius put it in The Federalist Papers: "It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force."

Posted by: Mark Tapscott at April 18, 2005 3:24 PM | Permalink

Thanks for giving the attention, Jay.

I'm glad to know about the group blog for legislators in Texas noted by Scott. I don't think that's going to work -- group blogs where the bloggers aren't paid to post rarely succeed longterm because there's not the individual recognition nor individual accountability.

I get laughs when I tell people I'm a weblog coach in my day job. But it points to the problem that for most civic leaders, blogging isn't as simple as we'd like to think. And once the technical "how to blog" problem is addressed, then there's the "what to blog" and how to do it effectively problem.

Posted by: Griff Wigley [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 19, 2005 7:45 AM | Permalink

It's our pleasure, Griff. Thanks for what you are doing. Thanks for that report, Scott, and for the nice words, Terry and Trout.

Mark Tapscott: I believe you are misreading the passage quoted from Hume. You are if you think what Publius said contradicts what Hume said. But I am not really sure what you think: what is it that Hume was wrong about?

All governments are not founded on opinion, says Tapscott?

Or possibly you misread the part where he says, "as FORCE is always on the side of the governed..." That's the side of the governed, Mark-- us, in other words, not government. It means what Bruce Nelan said: "no tyrant can kill or arrest an entire nation."

Posted by: Jay Rosen at April 19, 2005 8:59 AM | Permalink

Maybe the most revolutionary device imaginable is one that reads the zeitgeist of the blogosphere in real time.

In the old days you had to hang out in the city square to get a sense of how the wind was blowing. Will there be a general strike? Will the police honor it? Should I commit or keep my head down for now? Big groups (or mobs, depending on your perspective) have their own psychology.

But what if you could could track that group mind from the privacy of your home?

My first thought was "wow, something like that could change the world," but my second thought made me laugh out loud. How perfectly American: A couch revolution. Somebody would figure out how to turn it into reality TV.

"Tonight on American Government: Will the neocons stay or go? You decide! Plus a very special guest appearance by Dr. Phil."

It only stands to reason.

Posted by: Daniel Conover at April 19, 2005 9:47 AM | Permalink

Bill Grueskin for some unexplained reason had trouble posting this, so I am posting it for him:

Jay: Before I came to work at The Wall Street Journal in 1995, I did something for reasons that escape me a decade later. I decided to search AOL user profiles for the term "WSJ." (Maybe I was looking for Journal reporters who had AOL accounts, I'm really not sure. Keep in mind this 1995.)

The results told me a lot about the Journal, because "reading the WSJ" showed up in hundreds of reader profiles under the "hobbies and interests" section.

Imagine that -- along with gardening, mountain climbing and stamp collecting, lots of people viewed reading the Journal as a respite, not a civic duty or work responsibility. And more importantly, they wanted to be publicly identified with, and perhaps seek out others, who had the same interests.

That told me a lot about the Journal then, and I think it helps explain's base now. It's easy to say we're simply an expense-account writeoff, and I'm sure we are for some subscribers.

But it also speaks to where we're all headed. News organizations, print or electronic, need to inspire that kind of passion and loyalty more than ever, because there are so many more choices, and those choices are so much more accessible. And that's when the Daniel Conovers of the world will gladly pay for online content.

--Bill Grueskin

Posted by: Jay Rosen at April 19, 2005 12:23 PM | Permalink

If we're talking about Pay to Play here, the fact is that many bloggers will quote large blocks of material from NYTimes, WaPo, WSJ, etc. because their readers have problems with registration or other factors. Let me say here, I am registered for NYTimes, WaPo, and WSJ (that is free, and others), but if any of the above would decide to charge for content, I would have no hesitation in throwing a few dollars toward my favorite bloggers so they could pay for NYTimes, WaPo, whatever. I don't think I'm alone in this.

Posted by: kilgore trout at April 19, 2005 2:33 PM | Permalink

Mr. Grueskin is most likely correct, but on the other hands, the Daniel Conovers of the world are famously chintzy bastards.

Posted by: Daniel Conover at April 19, 2005 11:55 PM | Permalink

From the Intro