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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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April 27, 2005

The Migration

"While people in the old press pack up, and tell stories about giants they knew in the era when... they are also asking each other: where headed? As in: How are your people planning to make it across?" Plus: Podcasted radio is here; Infinity goes open source in SF.

The instant literature on what Jeff Jarvis has been calling the tipping point continues to grow. Kevin Roderick at LA Observed headlined his post: Critical Mass.

It has been pointed out that tipping point talk is cheap. But Infinity Broadcasting actually tipped over today. It went from radio by professional broadcasters to radio by open source podcasters— at one station. Starting right away.

On May 16, Infinity Broadcasting’s KYCY-AM in San Francisco will drop its talk-radio format and switch to broadcasting its listeners’ own podcasts. It’ll also stream those podcasts from the domain Open Source Radio.

Beginning today, listeners will be able to upload their podcasts of varying lengths for free at, where podcasts will be chosen by the broadcaster. Infinity Broadcasting says that the pod programming will be determined by listener interests and feedback, and evaluated on a daily basis.

That’s according to Vin Crosbie in Poynter’s E-media blog. According to management at the “flipped” station:

KYOURADIO is the first radio station in the world to get all of its programming from podcasts. Everyday we’ll feature new, innovative and cutting edge programs produced by people like you. Your original thoughts and sounds will be broadcast in San Francisco on the revolutionary 1550 KYCY-AM and streamed worldwide at

If that can happen one day, anything can happen the next. People in journalism know this. They are packing their things for the big digital migration— metaphor by Murdoch. They’re recalling what they loved about the long newspaper era. And they’re telling each other stories about the new land and what life will be like.

“Working at a major metropolitan newspaper these days can feel a bit like working for the East German Politburo, circa 1988,” jokes Andrés Martinez, editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times, in today’s pages. “It’s a good gig with great benefits, and people seek you out at cocktail parties, but you have this sense that your days are numbered.”

Yes, like days til departure are numbered. His colleague in the opinion section, Bob Sipchen, told last night’s forum on blogging in L.A. that he “always thought of the Times as a heavy battleship under steam, regarding its critics as no more important than swimmers in the water throwing dead fish at it.” (Via a report by Mack Reed in, a fomer Times guy himself.)

The politburo late in the game. The big battleship that daily journalism once was. Critics throwing dead fish. What images, these. Martinez points out how the more nimble bloggers are “eating our lunch, especially in my niche of opinion journalism.” True for a while, now in the L.A. Times true.

“Meanwhile, we say farewell to a great body of lore.” Richard Brookheiser’s mood in today’s New York Observer is elegiac.

Memorable headlines: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” “HEADLESS BODY FOUND IN TOPLESS BAR.” National Review, irked at the wall-to-wall coverage of the Pentagon Papers, writing its own and fooling The Washington Post. John Corry writing up the premiere of 42nd Street, at which David Merrick announced Gower Champion’s death at the curtain. Claudia Rosett, reporting from Tiananmen Square. Rewriting this column on Sept. 11, 2001. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, Walt Whitman and Mark Twain, all their successors up to John F. Burns—good night, guys, good night.

See you on the other side? Well, maybe. Here’s a view from Austria of what it looks like for newspaper people (by Helge Fahrnberger.) Nothing revolutionary, but a plausible sketch of what newspapers could be migrating to.

The very possibility of an international solution to problems forcing digital migration in journalism hasn’t been aired in our press councils, as far as I know. But it’s a plausible thing.

Infinity taking KYCY-AM into open source is different. That’s a post-migration idea. And it could be a revolution in radio programming. It depends, in part, on how de-controlled Infinity is willing to be. (Scroll for Chris Lydon’s reactions in “After Matter.”)

“The new WSJ, NYT and WaPo will be interesting and useful, but they won’t be what they were,” suggests Brookheiser, projecting forward. “Other newspapers will dwindle to sheets of shopping coupons, with notices of weddings and school-board meetings.”

Martinez points out who the big players are today. “The L.A. Times’ owner, Tribune Co., can probably be had for about $15 billion, if anyone is interested. Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, is a steal these days, with a market capitalization below $3 billion. Google’s value often fluctuates by that amount in one day of trading.”

The mightiest daily of them all, the Wall Street Journal, where any number of J-gods live (Only Website Able to Charge) is just a blip in the finances of Google. Humbling.

So while people in the old press pack up, and tell stories about giants they knew in the era when… they are also asking each other: where headed? As in: How are your people planning to make it across? The more clear headed among them are starting to feel it: we’ll see each other on the other side. (A long way from: I’m not going anywhere, and you can’t make me.)

And as the preparations are made the headlines keep landing, where they have for years: “Newspapers struggle to avoid their own obit.” Christian Science Monitor two days ago.

I agree with those who say: it’s not the newspapers, it’s the journalism we need to guide across. Right now, a lot of our journalism is organized in the fossil form of newspaper production routines— trapped there, we might say.

As Tim Porter reminds us, the principal producers of journalism (blogging’s raw material) are the 55,000 journalists the newspaper industry employs in this country. PressThink is not about “newspaper” anything, but it is about those people, and where their discussion is at.

Here’s a snippet from my play, The Migration, based on all these events. It checks in with the big newspapers on their plans.

Wall Street Journal, how do you plan to make it over?

We have a pay model, we’re going to stick with it for now. Once we’re in the open ocean who knows. We’ll be doing other things too.

Man I wish we had that. Good luck. See you on the other side.

Washington Post, Washington Post, how are you going to make it over?

We’re going with free high-quality branded content; local, national and international reach; intelligent interactive features that work. We’ll add personalization. Washington is Washington and we have it covered. That means we can hold the influentials along with a larger online tide.

The influence model, great idea. But have you asked yourself: where do the politics come from? Hope it works. We’ll see ya over there, W.P.

New York Times, New York Times, how do you—

Look, we can’t tell you yet.

Okay, okay. It’s that people are asking about a high church in the new space. Well, I guess we’ll see ya over there, New York Times.

LA Times, LA Times, we have to ask: do you even plan to make the migration over to…

Our plans are in flux, but we have some, and you might be very surprised.

Okay, we’ll be watching.

Say, do you know about this stand alone journalism going on over there? And open source journalism— a buzzword, or is that real?

See ya over there, LA Times.

Tribune, Tribune…

Contemplating the migration, Brookheiser wrote today the words of a true conservative: “The new world will not be better, despite the chest-thumping of the blogosphere, only differently bad (and differently good).” His own plan for making it over: “I will keep doing what I have been trained to do, modified by what I must do.”

A lot of people in Big Journalism are feeling modified by a must; the “tipping” sensation comes in part from that. Meanwhile, in the younger ranks they are restless, and have every right to be. About The Mood of the Newsroom and other circulating calls Matt Thompson of Snarkmarket says: “I thought the pioneers of the media future had all settled on these points long ago and since moved on to more interesting things.”

Infinity just did that. It moved the ball.

After Matter: Notes, reactions and links…

As was probably evident, I’m not really writing a play. That was blogger’s license.

Every day another sign of the Old Regime passing. Bob Benz, general manager of print web operations for E.W. Scripps, and Mike Phillips, editorial director for the company’s newspaper division, publish Time for a change: The Associated Press as Napsterized news, arguing for a new method of sharing content that would replace the AP at lower cost. The AP, the authors suggest, cannot make the digital migration. (Earlier: Phillips letter to PressThink on the sale.)

“Has Infinity found a way out into the open air?”

Chris Lydon, host of the soon-to-be-launched radio program, Open Source (press release) which aspires to be Net-savvy, blog-aware public radio, e-mails PressThink with his reaction to commercial radio’s open source news:

Well, the rush is on. The devil take the hindmost, and all that. But the Infinity deal sounds fishy to me— like these awful little features on network (and cable) news when they animate the clicking on a website and the reading-aloud of a blog post; not to mention the food-fight enactment of blog combat, which David Weinberger and others have gagged on.

So corporate media has caught on to blogging! And now they jump at the podcast idea. The big money seems to see the end of their own cul-de-sac of institutionalized news and information, but has Infinity found a way out into the open air? Only time will tell, as they love to sign off. You can see some of our thinking on our work-in-progress notepad. Back to you, Jay.

I love it: competition in citizens media. Who’s Chris Lydon and why am I supposed to care? See too: The Lydon Tapes.

Now this is my idea of a poetic argument.

Wired News account by Xeni Jardin: Podcasting Killed the Radio Star. “Podcasting will soon break out of the ‘pod’ and onto the public airwaves. The world’s first all-podcast radio station will be launched on May 16 by Infinity Broadcasting, the radio division of Viacom….”

For citizen journalists, this part seemed like the most critical part of the announcement:

The station’s producers will screen submitted content to ensure it meets quality standards and does not violate FCC broadcast guidelines. Approved podcasts will be simultaneously broadcast over the AM airwaves and streamed online at

In addition to the newfound reach promised by radio broadcast, podcasters may be free to include in their podcasts some music from major record labels, Infinity said.

The company said it plans to cover the cost of music-licensing fees, which are prohibitively high for most individuals.

From the Washington Post account:

The playlists of corporate-owned stations lack soul, formats bear a bewildering assortment of subcategorizations that reek of slavish devotion to focus group results, and more and more of each hour of radio is being taken up by ear-shattering commercials.

Contempt for the listener — disguised as catering to audience desires — is a loathsome-yet-expected hallmark of the radio industry. That’s why Infinity Broadcasting ‘s move to go “all-iPod” on one of its California stations is a surprising and hopeful sign of things to come.

Paid Content on the announcement: “This is big, at least in terms of intent.”

Rex Hammock is tracking reactions to the Infinity Move.

Jeff Jarvis has reactions: Your radio is big news, he says. But it will be bigger when it’s “our radio.”

At YOURadio, there are still executives picking what goes onto THEIR air.

At OURadio, WE the audience will pick what goes on OUR radio from what WE the producers make; there will be no difference between audience and producer, there will be no THEM: It’s all OURs.

That is where this road is going. And we’re still driving.

Still, I’m delighted by YOURadio.

Via Jeff, a young skeptic, MasterMaq: “This isn’t podcasting at all.”

Dave Slusher: “They are taking citizen media they get for free, airing it on an obscure AM station and getting paid for it. What an uncompelling proposition for me and any other podcaster.”

Infinity Brodcasting’s press release: New Radio Platform To Be Featured On San Francisco’s KYCY-AM And KYOURADIO.COM.

The Washington Post on political talk radio’s decline, post-election. Cyclical or…not?

Alan Mutter, Quit bellyaching and get to work. “Far from being one of those former journalists who is glad to be out of the business,” Mutter writes, “I envy each of you this extraordinary opportunity.” His post is a must for any twenty-something journalist hanging around PressThink.

If you subscribe to PressThink via RSS you may want to note that I am now sending out full text feeds. There are buttons for both summaries and full text at the bottom of the left rail.

Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice has begun a special feature “excerpting bloggers who use solid journalistic techniques that live up to the form’s potential.” By potential he means original reporting, new information, interviews and the like.’s new executive editor Jim Brady tells Mark Glaser of Online Journalism Review about remaining a free service:

If you look at companies that are looking at a pay model right now and the viral nature of the Web today, charging for content takes you out of play in terms of blogs linking to you, takes you out of play in terms of search engines surfacing you. So once you decide to put that pay wall up, you’ve limited your audience not only to the people who directly will come to your site but your ability to get other people into your site sideways.

From my exchange with Matt Thompson at Snarkmarket:

I do care very much about the traditional news providers, and I want them to be involved in what’s happening. I work for what I’d say is the biggest, most sophisticated newsgathering operation in Fresno County, and I’m horrified by the thought of this poor, beaten-up region losing the best journalism it’s got. At the same time, I think we sometimes squander our energy on bringing our newsrooms along for the revolution at the expense of guiding that revolution along.

More from Andrés Martinez in the LA Times:

Like Murdoch, I remain optimistic that there is a great deal of opportunity in this migration, even if newspaper types in the long run lose direct control over the distribution of our product, much as movie studios did when they had to divest their theater chains. Our content, like the studios’, will remain valuable on other distribution channels… a company like Amazon could buy a prestigious newspaper publisher and reinvent itself as a portal, leapfrogging over those that treat news updates as a commodity.

Derek Rose of the New York Daily News at his blog:

Yeah, sure, declining circulation, bleah bleah bleah. Newspapers have been under pressure from TV for years — that’s nothing new. We’re still very profitable. And our entire product is available for online, for free — and yet people are willing to pay to have it delivered to their door! Or for a copy they can read on the subway. That’s pretty cool.

Mark on Media, A surly mood. “There is so much potential that is not just being unrealized, but unrecognized.”

Technorati Tag:

Posted by Jay Rosen at April 27, 2005 1:58 PM   Print


In Mack Reed's report, to which Jay linked, of a Los Angeles blogger/media cocktail party attended by "blogfather" Hugh Hewitt, among others, Reed appears unable to comprehend the L.A. Times' "simultaneous might and insignificance". He reported the following exchange between Hewitt and L.A. Times assistant editorial page editor Bob Sipchen:

"Later, Hewitt portrayed the Times as an elephantine oppressor of the Los Angeles mediasphere, a monopoly that "makes the weather" in the realm of information, to which Sipchen replied something like, "Well which is it - Do we make the weather or are we the Titanic?"

But might and insignificance do not conflict in this case - - The L.A. Times is like a fatally gut-shot mugger: Perhaps certain to bleed-out, but dying slowly enough that a lot of damage can be done to victims (the political Right) and innocent bystanders (the public) before the end.

Posted by: Trained Auditor at April 27, 2005 3:26 PM | Permalink

It's a shake down cruise. Only the strong will survive.

Posted by: kilgore trout at April 27, 2005 5:42 PM | Permalink

Jay -- This all still sounds like the Underpants Gnomes from South Park. Step 1: Collect underpants. Step 2: ??? Step 3: Profit!

In this case, it goes like this ... Step 1: Throw dirt on old media. Step 2: ??? Step 3: New media!

The questions that have to be answered in Step 2:

1. If newspapers are dying, what's Anschutz up to? And why he is just one of many people interested in free alternative papers? Are we seeing not the death of the newspaper, but just the death of the broadsheet, its bulk and its awkward ad positioning?

2. Judging by my employer's cover story today, aren't network news programs in far more danger from the combined assaults of new media than newspapers?

3. Where are the lucrative part-time jobs with full benefits that will give citizen journalists the time and financial stability to do the jobs we're claiming they can do?

4. Are we still confusing bloggers' ability to replace pundits with bloggers' ability to replace investigative reporters?

5. Is the "flipping" of a radio station from talk to podcasting any more significant than the "flipping" of once-mighty alt-rock station WHFS to Spanish? (Partial answer: It absolutely is not. If you think you can envision the future of media in this country without hearing the salsa beat on your radio or checking out the other languages at your local newsstand, you're kidding yourself. In many markets, tapping into the Spanish-speaking market is far more of a priority than tapping into the local blogosphere. Not that the two are by any means mutually exclusive.)

6. What is Greensboro doing wrong? It must be something, or we wouldn't be writing the obit.

7. Suppose blogging, talk radio and cable news had been around for generations, but the concept of a print news product was the new medium. What would you do with it?

Basically, I'm ready to sign up for the revolution. But we haven't had any sort of serious discussion about what we're revolting against and what sort of state we intend to set up when we smash the old one. Are we simply revolting?

Posted by: Beau at April 27, 2005 8:53 PM | Permalink

The Infinity thing is beguiling.
"Programming will be determined by listener interests and feedback,"
Now there is a concept. I think it will work in the world of music radio.
But -- and here's the rub -- we need to make some distinctions here. Would it work in the news business? What if the listeners were not interested in uncomfortable news?
We would be left with pap.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at April 27, 2005 9:09 PM | Permalink

Puzzling, Beau. You write as if I am supposed to sell you on something and you ain't buying. Sorry, you sell yourself-- or don't.

There is no revolution to sign up for, and sorry again, but I cannot deliver "the lucrative part-time jobs with full benefits that will give citizen journalists the time and financial stability to do the jobs we're claiming they can do."

Why are you asking me where the jobs are? Did I promise them to you somehow? Where? Because I published a post on the concept of the stand alone journalist I am supposed to identify an income stream and obtain benefits for them? Who said bloggers could, would or should replace investigative reporters? I didn't. Didn't I write "the principal producers of journalism (blogging's raw material) are the 55,000 journalists the newspaper industry employs in this country?" (I thought I did.) Network news programs may be even more confused than the newspaper industry, I grant you. Therefore...what?

About your No. 5. I don't think a format change from indie rock to spanish music and a format change from content-by-professionals to content-by-amateurs are similar changes at all. Do you?

Look, we don't know that Infinity's moves will turn out to be significant. What people are saying is they could be. Who can reasonably say they will be until we see what open source methods actually produce? If I say, "this could be big" (as did) is that hype? Why is that hype?

6. What is Greensboro doing wrong? It must be something, or we wouldn't be writing the obit.

Huh? You lost me. Greensboro has a plan. They have begun executing it. They don't know whether it will work, neither do I. The new revamped site that would emerge from their plan hasn't even debuted. You're ready to write them off because they haven't saved the industry yet?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at April 27, 2005 9:30 PM | Permalink

Old thinking/New thinking:
(So much for Conventional Wisdom.)
We were always led to believe that independently-owned or family-owned newspapers were, ipso facto, of better quality than chain-owned. For decades I lived in Northern NJ where, it seemed to me, that the family-owned newspaper was getting worse and worse. I attributed this to lack of meaningful competition. But I finally let go of the Conventional Wisdom on this issue. I relocated to South FL this past year where the local newspaper is pretty good: The Sun-Sentinel. What a surprise: it's owned by a chain! The NJ newspaper keeps much of its online content behind some sort of wall; the Sentinel doesn't. Hmmm...

Almost every day toward the end of my online session, I go to the SS's online site and scan the stories to see if there might be any which would be of interest to my blog readers. And I make an active effort to try to link to them. In a way, I'm doing a bit of promotion for them, although they are not paying me for it. I don't want them to evaporate.

I have always been a big fan of Wayne's World. People used to laugh at me when I told them this. Wayne's World is not a joke anymore. But I'm comfortable with that.

Loved those famous headlines: Headless Body in Topless Bar, etc.

Posted by: button at April 27, 2005 11:05 PM | Permalink

Beau... here's another kind of answer for you. Quit bellyaching and get to work, at Reflections of a Newsosaur-- "Musings and (occasional urgent warnings) of a veteran media executive, who fears our news-gathering companies are stumbling to extinction."

Posted by: Jay Rosen at April 27, 2005 11:20 PM | Permalink

Jay - I like the Newsosaur post because I'm also excited about the possibilities after 10 years of doing Web content. I remember doing something that today we'd call a "blog" back in 1997, supplemented with photos I took with a digital camera the size of a VW bug.

But does it answer any of my questions? Not really.

I might have misinterpreted your post. The way I'm reading it, you're positing Infinity's flip to YOUradio as something akin to the Boston Tea Party, and other recent posts are describing the newsroom as various parties in Russia circa 1917. That all sounds exciting. But before we dump the tea and storm the Kremlin, I'd like to know a bit more about where we headed. I've been part of the revolution for 10 years now, and I still feel like we're throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.

To give just one example: In 1997, we were idiots for republishing our print content online. In 2005, we're idiots because we aren't making the republished print content available without registration. Can you blame those of us in the online news trenches for feeling a little directionless?

(To give another example -- remember when the Raleigh News & Observer was the big pioneer in the online world? Could their story serve as a warning of the perils of early adoption?)

And I'm not convinced that YOUradio is such a landmark. Good talk radio -- I'm thinking of the BBC soccer call-in show 606 -- already puts the focus on the listener/caller. The BBC's soccer hosts have a light hand on the proceedings, and the callers put a lot of effort into their comments. If the BBC were to flip 606 to podcasts but have the same comments from the host between "callers," would the difference be anything more than procedural? (Incidentally, the show also makes great use of a technology we ignore in the U.S. -- text messaging.)

If I'm a newspaper publisher, I'm more interested in the rise of Spanish radio than the rise of podcasting. Bloggers and podcasters are most likely reading my content already -- whether it's in print or online, where I've just revved up my ability to serve ads, I don't really care. I need to get the people who aren't reading. We can do that online, but we also need to try print for those folks who are too busy to read a morning paper and don't have kindly bosses who let us spend work time browsing our favorite sites. Little wonder the Washington Post and others have tabloid siblings now -- if they don't take that market, Anschutz's Examiner will.

The conceit of the blogosphere is the notion that newspapers are being pulled in one direction. They're being pulled in MANY directions -- by a fragmented audience, by cable "news" that pretends to inform with its never-ending panel of pundits, by a lack of interest in local and state governments, by overwhelming choice. Sure, that's exciting, and someone may figure out how to do good journalism that stands out from all the noise. But some days, even those of us who like all the new technology feel like we're being drawn and quartered.

Posted by: Beau at April 28, 2005 10:11 AM | Permalink

The question?

"While people in the old press pack up, and tell stories about giants they knew in the era when . . . they are also asking each other: where (are we) headed? As in: How are your people planning to make it across (from print to online)?"

Our question over at The Locust Fork is, when are news management teams going to get smart and hire the best blogger journalists for a ton of money, give them some freedom, and stand by them - and the new form - in the trenches?

Without "The Press" in some form, American Democracy is screwed. You can quote me on that : )


Posted by: Glynn Wilson at April 28, 2005 11:27 AM | Permalink

My Top 5 Favorite Things About Podcasting: 1. No pesky FCC regulations; 2. Quirky, homemade qualities; 3. If they're boring, I shuffle ahead to the next one; 4. No commercials; 5. I decide what's on my playlist.

Put podcasts on the radio? Sure, you can, but why would you?

Posted by: Daniel Conover at April 28, 2005 3:06 PM | Permalink

I notice that you are all ignoring the paper recycling factor. It's big!

Posted by: button at April 28, 2005 9:55 PM | Permalink

Journalism's 21st Century 'Basics'?: Imagine the reporter with the learned skills to "blog" the textual "killer lede" along with a video clip of the pertinent events recorded on his handheld digicam/cellphone combined with continuation link(s) to an "airtight" background (with additional links to other - off-site - resources containing additional "research")?

Posted by: Sisyphus [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 29, 2005 1:00 AM | Permalink

Imagine wading through so many tons of amateur, standard-free reporting (and untrained and unskilled audio and video operation to boot) that virtually nothing makes it out of the noise. Like an indie film fest, where you go in under the hype of independent artists but soon find that everything on display is embarrassing crap except the two or three big name productions that everyone is standing in line to see. We'll see how that works out.

I'm still pondering my severe annoyance when Rosen talks about "open source journalism", which is a really dumb metaphor. Open source is simply a licensing paradigm, Jay. You sound like some dot-com icon trying to impose the one idea you know onto everything that sounds like change. It's especially grating because open source itself is grandly overhyped, so this is like second generation b.s.

Posted by: Brian at April 29, 2005 11:33 AM | Permalink

First, PressThink welcome states that media is Radio, TV, Telgraph Key, Signal light, Roadway signage, Wooden Plaque and Placemat. Press on the otherhand, comprise a body who searchout, find, analize and present News stories with generally good, but varying degrees of accuracy. Next you allude to the lack of the original, the new, as opposed to the general. Well here's some 'original' the press could use in reviving newspapers, for instance. Follow the news story with a little blurb that points the reader towards info where the reader can do something about the hot news topic. Involve the reader. Equip the reader. What is the correct address of the government department to write and demand a fix from. We're busy working, paying bills, running around. We need to see that address in the paper while we're motivated. There is a constant flow of news. Interesting, entertaining, provocative news. We are not engaged however. Where's the focus? What should we do to help fix things? The press could afford to take a hint from Consumers Union. Their writing needs help, but you get names and addresses. You even get suggested letters to either edit or send as is. The focus is that the effect of many big news stories are a direct hit to the economy. The eventual result is a decline in our quality of living. Opinions and information on how to influence some correction at least should be available in newspapers and magazines. The press can do better. By the way. Saw first blog April 14/05 and have the gall to do and, 73s, TonyGuitar

Posted by: TonyGuitar at April 30, 2005 5:02 PM | Permalink

I think it's too early to write off traditional news organizations. They'll have to change their method of delivery, and figure out how to make websites pay. The transition will be a killer for those without resources. Some of the better known bloggers are trying to start their own news service. Even as talk radio is starting to lose its appeal, a lot of bloggers will shake out, as it becomes more and more like a job.

The current media created this opportunity for the new media. Sooner or later, those who wake up to what the market is demanding will figure out how to serve it, and that will be the News. Blogging may be evanescent or, more likely, part of the emerging system. For those of us with jobs outside the media, it will be fun to watch. For those making the migration, good luck.

What we in the Great Unwashed don't like about MSM types is their assumption of authority and superiority. They're smart and have better sources of information than most of us, but they don't know everything, and their opinions are no more important than anybody else's. It all goes back to Aristotle and hubris.

Posted by: AST at May 1, 2005 7:21 PM | Permalink


Imagine wading through so many tons of amateur, standard-free reporting (and untrained and unskilled audio and video operation to boot) that virtually nothing makes it out of the noise.

This is a huge issue and one to which I'd like to see more thought devoted. How will people find the signal in the static? Should we be concerned with developing answers to this question or should we just relax and trust that the answers will emerge? Personally, I think the means of filtering and connecting is the whole ballgame.


Involve the reader. Equip the reader. What is the correct address of the government department to write and demand a fix from. We're busy working, paying bills, running around. We need to see that address in the paper while we're motivated.

This idea has had some juice in the business for a while now, and you see it in some papers quite a bit. But please remember that in many stories the debate is between those who feel that All Is Well and those who feel that Something Must Be Done. For the All Is Wells, the very act of writing the story is an act of bias in favor of the Something Must Be Dones. I agree with involving the reader, but please understand that advocacy is a tricky position for the press.


I think it's too early to write off traditional news organizations. They'll have to change their method of delivery, and figure out how to make websites pay.

I think it's waaaay too early to write off traditional news organizations. They have infrastructure and brand. As far as I'm concerned, it's not an issue of whether some will make it across, it's whether the first pioneers will be able to kill off their competitors who are slow to realize what's happening. Dave Winer pointed out in February that no organization has really established itself as the dominant source for general news online. Well, once that position is established, will there be enough share for other organizations to survive in the same niche?

In the mid-1990s, newspapers all knew they had to get a website in a hurry. We thought that those who didn't get one might not make it to the 21st century. When that shakeout didn't occur, many of us learned the wrong lesson and wrote off the web as a competitor. Newspapers in particular have the resources to survive and even flourish in the emerging media market, but those who fail to grasp that the threat is real this time may find themselves marginalized unto death within just a few years.

Posted by: Daniel Conover at May 2, 2005 9:13 AM | Permalink

Following from this:


"Imagine wading through so many tons of amateur, standard-free reporting (and untrained and unskilled audio and video operation to boot) that virtually nothing makes it out of the noise.

"This is a huge issue and one to which I'd like to see more thought devoted. How will people find the signal in the static? Should we be concerned with developing answers to this question or should we just relax and trust that the answers will emerge? Personally, I think the means of filtering and connecting is the whole ballgame."

This filtering/connecting question is huge, but it really isn't a deep, dark mystery. We've seen the emergence of trusted aggregators/thinkers/guides among bloggers. (Can we call them editors?)

Instead of having to read 100 media-related blogs, I have three of four or five where I can trust the big issues to bubble up to the surface. Jay and a few others are doing a lot of work for me because they're collectively reading the 100 blogs (or however many), bringing together what they find, annotating, adding to, arguing with...and linking me back to the original.

Right now, the trusted aggregator/annotator/editor for news is mainstream media, because they have resources, brand, and desire to do it. Might we not see, though, the rise of individual (or cooperative) sites that provide the same service? Or that filter for us the best of what the newsroom gives us and everything else?

(And wouldn't that suggest a business model?)

Posted by: Mark Hamilton at May 3, 2005 2:40 PM | Permalink

From the Intro