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PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine
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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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October 21, 2005

Rosen is Unplugged for a While

Taking a break to finish a book. Back in December '05.

Since October 2, I have written seven PressThink posts about the New York Times and Judith Miller. (See the list below.) Today’s post, Thanks for the Link, New York Times. Now Please Answer My Question, will be my last for a while. (Of course, others should try to get the answers I was seeking.)

I’m taking a break from blogging to finish my book, which has a new title: By the People. Rather than say “blogging will be light…” I thought it was best to stop until the book is completed. (I may have some guest bloggers.) I will be back, but not before December 1. I hope that regular readers—and those who are recently arrived—will check back. The forum will resume, and if it deserves to thrive it will.

Thanks to all for the 1.25 million visits so far. See you soon.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

by Jay Rosen on the Judith Miller case…

  • After Miller Let There Be Light. (Huffington Post, Nov. 10) “Judith Miller may be the only investigative reporter alive who doesn’t care if you understand, because she does. She’s not aware of it when her stories do not add up. They cohere for her. In this sense she violates not the rules of journalism, but the reason we have it.”
  • Will the Times Ever Tell Us If Judy Miller Had a Security Clearance? (Huffington Post, Nov. 8) “In fact we know more than enough to be interested and alarmed, but nowhere near enough to draw any conclusions. In my view we have no reason to trust what Miller says; if the Times lets her explanations stand, it will have given a publicly unintelligible reply.”
  • “We Regret Nothing.” Times Editorial Page Breaks Silence on Miller Case. (Huffington Post, Oct. 29) “There was a break today in the silence that had fallen over the New York Times editorial page in the matter of Judith Miller. We who received a message from the editors. The message is: ‘We were right along, we’re still right, not a thing has happened to change our view, and Miller’s critics—including most of the journalists who work at the Times— can go get stuffed.’”
  • The Times at Bay: Armchair Critic Speculates (Oct. 12): “Everything has to wait until the moment when Judy ‘can be expected to tell what happened,’ as Landman so carefully put it. When it comes and she still refuses the hierarchy will turn a whiter shade of pale. Key people will then know their investment in Miller went terribly wrong.”
  • The Shimmer: Missing Data at the New York Times (Oct. 10): “Whereas a week ago, I was calling it ‘Judy Miller’s New York Times’ to emphasize how she seemed to be the actor-in-chief, I now think it’s more than that: a bigger unknown is affecting things. Not only is the Times not operating properly, it’s unable to say to readers: here’s why we’re not.”
  • News Comes in Code: Judy Miller’s Return to the Times (Oct. 4): “Just one man’s opinion, but now is a good time to say it: The New York Times is not any longer—in my mind—the greatest newspaper in the land. Nor is it the base line for the public narrative that it once was. Some time in the last year or so I moved the Washington Post into that position…”
  • Judith Miller and Her Times (Oct. 2): “Notice how it affects what the New York Times, a great institution, can tell the public, and yet Judy’s decision was hers: personal when she made it (her conditions weren’t met), personal when she changed it (her conditions were met.) That’s what I mean by Miller’s Times.”

Posted by Jay Rosen at October 21, 2005 3:38 PM   Print


Good for you !!!

Posted by: Tim at October 21, 2005 4:30 PM | Permalink

Always the best move: writing something for print! Hear hear.

Posted by: Bill at October 21, 2005 4:50 PM | Permalink

This is no time to take a break. Who will I mock and scorn?

Posted by: Roxanne at October 21, 2005 4:58 PM | Permalink

This is horrible news. But we'll have to manage. You've created the most vibrant blog discussion. I look forward to your return.

Posted by: JennyD at October 21, 2005 5:36 PM | Permalink

I think you'll manage just fine. But thanks for saying PressThink will be missed. I appreciate it.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 21, 2005 6:22 PM | Permalink

Thank you, Jay. Good luck with the book. Thanks for the work you've put into this forum. We'll be here when you're ready to come back.

Posted by: Cervantes at October 21, 2005 7:14 PM | Permalink

Agggggg! Noooooooooo!

[breathes into paper bag]

Okay...okay. I'll just have to figure out if blogger can live on Romenesko alone...bravely soldiering on, that's the ticket...

Posted by: Lisa Williams at October 21, 2005 11:11 PM | Permalink

Ouch! we'll miss you.

May the book go smoothly, and may the NY Times give you (and, by extension, us) answers.

Posted by: Anna Haynes at October 22, 2005 12:37 AM | Permalink

Hmmmm. Fishbow NY points out that I wrote 25,000 words about Judith Miller and the Times since Oct. 2. Hey, I'm just interested in certain things.

I thought it was amusing, but I didn't put it into my post. Led by Merrill Brown, the big media guys had a running joke about me during the big confab at the Museum. It ran along the lines of, "don't annoy Rosen, he'll write 3,000 words about you...[snaps fingers] like that!" It was low key funny.

Lisa: you are very sweet. Thanks, Anna, Cervantes.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 22, 2005 1:03 AM | Permalink

Eventually, I'll post this in the right spot. Like here.

Thanks for the conversation, Jay. It's been perplexing, irritating, memorable and never boring. And it's opened my eyes to a different vision of the direction of journalism.

Good luck with the book. Let us know when the conversation starts up again.

Dave McLemore

Posted by: Dave McLemore at October 22, 2005 2:18 AM | Permalink

{"..PressThink will be back, but not before December 1.."}

... will the current leadership at the NY Times be around on December 1st ??

How 'bout the Times itself ?

MillerGate is a Magnitude 10.0 quake for the dominant establishment media.

Posted by: BerelliD at October 22, 2005 7:27 AM | Permalink

It was hard to decide to stop. But there's no other way to complete the thing. I am thinking, however, there may be ways that PressThink's experienced readers (users) can help me finish the book. I'm not sure, but there might. If so, it will be discussed in this space.

Lots of people asked me if I was going to "post chapters" but I always said no, not what I had in mind for use of the Web. To put it crudely, my method was real time blogging, straight "into" the themes I knew I wanted the book to be about.

Now I have to go into the editing room and make a film from PressThink So Far-- if you see what I mean. (Just a metaphor, but it's apt.) This has been a matter of isolating and combining key scenes, situations, and moments of exposition, writing new material in and around that, then "stitching" it together into finished parts with mini-titles.

These get put aside for incorporation when other parts are done. But unless I called a halt to the blogging the book by definition couldn't be done. Judith Miller was too rich, the events and gaps too interesting, the stakes too real. I was getting too far into it. I could see where it was going. I mean 25,000 words and the real revelations aren't even here.

Now I am "pulling" from all the posts I wrote (with all their links) and the chatter they created (when bloggers and journalists responded) and the debate that got steadily catalogued at PressThink in what I think of as the Jazz section (After Matter) the threads of the real story I was blogging "into" all along.

* The terms of authority are changing in American journalism. Everything is up for grabs, because the future is undetermined and the entire enterprise at risk. At moments like this ideas about the press, and what it should be count for more because there's more space for ideas to be tried. A re-definition gets underway, a next press emerges. It's not a controlled process but a live one.

* The Web is distributing the powers of the press to the people formerly known as the audience. Peer-to-peer knowledge can challenge pro-to-audience communication. The Internet goes side to side as well as it goes up and down. All this upsets professional practice, which is built on top of a weakening brodcast platform, and trapped by the verticality of its "mass media" thinking. In a one-to-many world they were gods. Now: gatekeepers no more.

* The traditional press--and traditional presss think--are thus under attack, a portion of which is justified, and frequently devastating to our confidence in this institution. The culture war has come to the door. There's a crisis in the professional regime-- I say, in the religion of big time journalism. We need new press think and we're getting it-- online.

* Citizen journalism, stand alone journalisn, political blogging, open source methods, social media are struggling to establish themselves but they point the way on the Web-- the news industry does not. People in Big Media are slowly coming to see that.

* Professional authority and truthtelling heroics are still possible in journalism, and an "elite" press still makes some sense. The fleet needs a flagship. But it will never go back to what it was because media power has been re-destributed, forcing even the elites to change. This was known in Greensboro before it was realized in New York. John Robinson took his newspaper over The Divide, and he became a blogger.

* Journalism by the people formerly known as the audience is here to stay. So is the stand alone journalist. We're at the dawn of a creative explosion in media that will bring new forms--new powers of the press--into journalism. The old press gods have no choice but to plunge into it with the public at their side. But it won't be a bad thing at all. The amateurs will teach the pros. The pros will pick from the best amateurs.

My method, I said, was to blog right "into" these themes. I did that, 2003 to 2005. Now I have to cut the film.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 22, 2005 3:41 PM | Permalink

If you have any interest in having guest writers for Pressthink let me know. I bet you're itching to write about Dowd's column today - I just blogged about it - so that could be a partial compromise.

Drop me an email sometime.

Posted by: Scott Butki at October 22, 2005 4:18 PM | Permalink

I've been thinking of keeping up the debate in the previous post about Andrew Heyward's omniscience. I don't know if we'll sustain it or not. But it was interesting that several people have continued to comment, and I've been composing an answer today.

There's been something happening here that's pretty powerful. The conversation has been brisk, witty, amazingly insightful and challenging, low and mean, sometimes smart, sometimes stupid, sometimes ideological and repetitive. But it's been rich and interesting. That's remarkable given that we are thousands of miles apart, and still talking and talking.

There are other rich conversations too, but few as constant as this. I've had the good fortune to have spawned one or two at my own site.

I'm going through a little "Pressthink withdrawal" I think. It's tough. Requires more wine.

Jay, I can predict with some accuracy that most of us will check back often, to look for any book updates and for each other. (Truth be told, I will miss Lovelady and kilgore together.)

The book is good, go write it. We know you have to focus and take time and do it. But the conversation is equally valuable, and if you'll come back and help direct it again, I know we'll appreciate it.

Posted by: JennyD at October 22, 2005 5:39 PM | Permalink

Don't take this too personally, Jay, but I think you're making a mistake if you read your creation at PressThink as being only what you write for it.

Yes, what you write is the key ingredient, but PressThink is as much a community of users as it is your personal thoughts. You're not a frequent poster, so why do so many people check you daily? Why do we come here even when there's clearly no RSS update? You created PressThink, you animate PressThink, you inform, shape and direct PressThink, but you are not PressThink.

I think it's great that you're taking time off to write a book (I will buy the first edition, too), but I think you're missing a trick here. Why not find some experts, scholars and wise folk you trust to keep things going here during your hiatus? Why not step back and see the creation for what it is?

Posted by: Daniel Conover at October 23, 2005 12:55 PM | Permalink

Thanks, Daniel. I'll think it over.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at October 23, 2005 2:05 PM | Permalink

Why not find some experts, scholars and wise folk you trust to keep things going here during your hiatus?

I'd like to nominate Dan Conover and "Jenny D"!

(and I really miss Jay's take on Calame's piece, which seem like..... well it seemed like an emasculated version of Jay Rosen. Calame had nearly nothing new to report --- instead he wasted a lot of space telling everyone what they already knew.

I mean, the Calame has the access to provide an answer to the question regarding Miller's claimed advocacy for a story on the "Wilson-Plame" connection; we know that Abramson said it never happened, but its not like Judy Miller wasn't capable of asking Keller or some other editor for permission. Did Calame even ask Keller about it?

Posted by: ami at October 23, 2005 10:31 PM | Permalink

It is extremely difficult to imagine what an emasculated version of Jay Rosen would read like. Can you provide a link to this Y-chromosome free prodigy?

Posted by: Brian at October 24, 2005 1:43 AM | Permalink

The Miller Mess: Lingering Issues Among the Answers by Byron Calame

Posted by: ami at October 24, 2005 7:06 AM | Permalink

digby at Hullabaloo has details on the "Miller did/didn't urge an editor to do a story on Plame-Wilson"....

Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd were tossed on their keisters thanx to the Blair fiasco on June 3, 2003 --- well before Miller talked to Libby. They should have been asked about this --- just to confirm that Miller was unaware of the Wilson/Plame connection prior to her conversation with Libby. Interim managing editor Joseph Lelyveld should also have been asked -- he was in charge until Keller was made editor on July 14, 2003 (same day as the infamous Novak column).

But Calame (apparently) didn't bother to question any of these people about Miller's account, instead he chose to simply imply that Miller is flat-out lying based on Abramson's denial. I'm the last person to defend Miller's conduct, but for Calame to not do his job on this issue --- a job that he is perfectly positioned to do --- demonstrates his complete lack of sincere concern about the larger story --- and the credibility of the Times.

Posted by: ami at October 24, 2005 7:36 AM | Permalink

Please, s/emasculated/colorless/

From Calame's above-linked piece:

"[Keller:] I fear I fostered an impression that The Times put a higher premium on protecting its reporters than on coming clean with its readers."
missing words: "publisher","editor(s)"

"[Calame:] ANOTHER troubling ethical issue that I haven't yet been able to nail down is whether Ms. Miller holds a government security clearance."
It would be nice here too to know what specific attempts Calame made to acquire this info, how they were received, and with what degree of doggedness he intends to track it down now.

Posted by: Anna Haynes at October 26, 2005 11:52 PM | Permalink

From the Intro