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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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February 6, 2006

Introducing PressThink's Blue Plate Special

This blog has to expand. One way of doing that: a new spin-off site called Blue Plate Special, written by students in my blogging 101 class, plus others we may drag in. Each Special to offer fresh intelligence about one thing going on in the Net-meets-journalism world. First up: newspaper blogging.

We’re starting with simple format: a swarm of edited posts and reported features, short and long, held together by a big picture post that stands on its own, and links to all the other posts. Good information and multiple perspectives on a single theme— for now, that is the formula for a Blue Plate Special. (The domain will be, but it’s not operative yet.)

State-of-the-art in newspaper blogging

Our intent in the debut is to execute well upon a basic form in journalism: the snapshot, or state-of-the-art report. The first one will be about blogging at American newspapers. Newspapers are definitely past the “let’s start some blogs” stage, but what stage are they at? Where’s the action, traction, and satisfaction in the growing world of newspaper blogs? NYU students and I, joined by a few special guests, pros and amateurs, will try to find out.

Blue Plate Special Number One—to appear later this month—will have a core team of 12 correspondents, 5 editors, two of them also Web producers, plus assorted contributors, who are now being hunted down. (To view the story line-up, go here.)

If you’re a newspaper blogger or an editor who’s overseeing blogs, expect an e-mail or call. We may want to interview you. And if you want to be in this package or help us out, e-mail me. We can use you. If you’re a blogger, journalist, writer or aspiring press critic who reads PressThink, and you want to contribute to the debut of Blue Plate Special, we don’t pay in dollars but we plan to pay in readers and linkage.

Current plans (which could change) call for Blue Plate Specials on a monthly schedule— February, March, April, May. But we’ll see how it goes.

One thing I want to know from PressThink readers: what ideas do you have for the Blue Plate series? After we kick things off with newspaper blogging, where should we go next in the Net-meets-journalism, press-in-transformation world?

Examples of blog expansion.

As a matter of form, PressThink has remained more or less the same since September of 2003. I haven’t built any additions. But I have been watching how blog expansion happens. Some creative examples:

There’s Weldon Berger’s BTC News, which added a White House correspondent, Eric Brewer, in 2005. (See Dan Froomkim on it.) At the time I didn’t catch the significance of Berger adding a White House reporter. Now I think it’s one of the smartest moves any political blogger has made; and I have been considering how PressThink might develop its own network of correspondents.

An example I continue to admire is Terry Teachout’s About Last Night, which has a second contributor, Laura Demanski. (“TERRY TEACHOUT on the arts in New York City, with additional dialogue by OUR GIRL IN CHICAGO” is says at the top.) I have considered in the past expansion by adding a second contributor.

There’s the more ambitious example of Chris Nolan (see her PressThink post, The Stand Alone Journalist is Here) who expanded her own blog, Politics From Left to Right, into a group of writers on politics, who range from left to right. Her new (and very handsome) site is called Spot On; it’s the home of six authors.

And there’s the example of Talking Points Memo by Josh Marshall. He expanded by adding a spin-off site, TPM Cafe, which has a roster of talented part-time contributors and reader-written blogs. It also has comment threads (Talking Points Memo does not.) Marshall will soon debut a second spin-off. TPM Muckraker, for which he has raised money.

PressThink 2.0

All those expansions make sense to me, and they give me ideas.

Creating Blue Plate Special is part of a larger project: figuring out what the re-built 2.0 version of PressThink should be. The site is overdue for an overhaul and re-design, which I am starting to raise money for. I have to decide what should be added or “fixed” in the second version, and what directions to expand in. As soon as I have the funding for it, I will begin to solicit ideas from PressThink readers.

Posted by Jay Rosen at February 6, 2006 6:53 PM   Print


As we have discussed forever, the newspapers frequently get it wrong. First reports are always wrong, it's said.

The newspaper/blog interface may be of some use.

There are two issues: One is the mechanical and procedural process by which the story is corrected, or as it develops. How does the hybrid actually get the new information, get it to the editor, and put it out rapidly?

The second question is the culture. How do we get newspapers to admit their stories are not written in stone by virtue of being printed? Instead of grudging and delayed corrections generally if not solely motivated by howls from the readers, instead of rowbacks which can hardly be connected by the reader to the original story, how do we get the practitioners to consider these stories as on-going projects, corrected instantly and willingly when errors are discovered or additional information comes in?

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at February 6, 2006 7:55 PM | Permalink

We just noted your activities and looking forward what will happen. Kind regards from Switzerland.

Posted by: Buerger-Herold at February 6, 2006 8:52 PM | Permalink


At some point the professor turns the lab over to the grad students and goes fishing, or equivalent. It's one of the perks of having Arrived, so to speak. Papers and even theses may continue to be produced, but it's seldom of much use to anyone outside the circle until a new leader rises out of the muck.

Sincere congratulations on having reached another milestone in your career, Jay. You may (should!) ignore the mutters of discontent.


Posted by: Ric Locke at February 6, 2006 9:44 PM | Permalink

Plan for success. If Blue Plate special ultimately has a lot of contributors, you'll want software that has workflow (EG each user gets their own blog or "diary" -- and editors can choose to "promote" to the front page). If you use something that's originally designed to be the blog of one person, it'll be a hash of "here, use this login," because the administrator will be the only one who can make new accounts.

Multiblog platforms (software that enables self-service account creation where users get their own blogs)

-- Drupal
-- Scoop
-- Soapblox

Anyone know more? I have limited knowledge of CivicSpace -- a customized "flavor" of Drupal that grew out of the Dean Campaign. And I haven't tried Wordpress MU (Multiuser) yet.

I really like TPM Cafe. I've been too busy reading to hit View>Source to see what they're running.

One of the things you'll find is that the group blog/community site/citizen journalism...doesn't exist yet. You'll strip the gears on all of these, not on the ability to submit, publish, and promote stories, but in the community management department. (I don't think the whole embarrassing incident with the Washington Post shutting down comments on a blog would have happened if blogs had more robust community features. You've got two buttons: delete a comment, and shut down comments altogether. This is true of most blog software and it's not exactly a full slate of features for community management, or, as I like to think of it, Community Gardening).

Posted by: Lisa Williams at February 7, 2006 12:41 AM | Permalink

Ric: "At some point the professor turns the lab over to the grad students and goes fishing, or equivalent."

These are undergrads, not grad students, Ric. And if I were "turning over the lab," I would announce that PressThink would now be written by a team. But PressThink will continue to be written by me, with occasional contributors like Lisa Williams or Andrew Heyward. I am creating a new site,, where students will be the authors, mixed in with some pros.

Lisa: Thanks for the advice. All the students have their own blogs that will feed the main page, which will be in the hands of two web-savvy editors, and me. I know about that "customized 'flavor' of Drupal that grew out of the Dean Campaign" because it's my newphew, Zack Rosen, who worked on DeanSpace and founded Civic Space Labs.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 7, 2006 8:29 AM | Permalink

I look forward to the Blue Plate Special. One of the things I'm doing here is looking for ways to use interactive technology in teaching and learning...both with my undergrads and for them to use with their future K-12 students.

So much of this can end up being frivolous, so I'm eager to see what you guys do.

As for expanding Pressthink....I like the idea of you writing it. But I'm also wondering about a Pressthink TPM type thing, with an invited, perhaps rotating group writing posts. It would need your attention and voice, Jay, but not necessarily full-time. Maybe that's not the best model, I don't know.

But you have created what may the best place for media conversation on the web. Smart people, good ideas. You're smart in trying to make it grow. Let's keep the good stuff, though.

Posted by: JennyD at February 7, 2006 10:04 AM | Permalink

Why just newspapers? Break free of the shackles of media!
Magazines are doing good things:
TV stations are doing good things:
National TV is tring: PublicEye.

Note the Guardian's new HuffingtonPost-like feature. Note also the Houston Chronicle's new blogs of passion.

Posted by: Jeff Jarvis at February 7, 2006 10:06 AM | Permalink

D'oh! Coals to Newcastle. Tell Zack we need TypePad for CivicSpace -- some sort of campaign-in-a-box. There's a gubernatorial race in MA this year, and I tell you, the websites are very, very sad. The state Democratic party is using Blogger on Blogspot with a default template!

Horrors! I'm torn between giving them props for keepin' it real down in Blogspotland and slapping my forehead in frustrated despair.

Most campaigns at this point can find someone to blog, but not someone who knows SQL and Unix enough to install the software and keep the server running, etc.

Posted by: Lisa Williams at February 7, 2006 2:37 PM | Permalink

You should check out Bring It On, which recently revamped its site. It has a roster of writers, each with their own personal blog, and a small but dedicated set of Diarists.

The Bastard at BIO has helped me consider a site revamp, and I'm sure he'd be thrilled to talk to you about it.

Posted by: The Stuffed Tiger at February 7, 2006 3:15 PM | Permalink

Good luck with the BPS Jay! I don't see it as the typical professor-feeding-off-his-students. There are only so many hours in the day, and events move very fast with respect to a deep blog like PressThink. Something had to give or change. I hope BPS is a success and that you continue to focus on the main site.

A few comments, FWIW: a monthly edition? Why not use the Gutenberg Press? If you know your Odd Couple, there's a scene when the boys are playing cards, and Murray, I think it is, is dealing and someone complains because he is so slow, and Murray answers, "What'd you want? Speed or accuracy?" With blogs, we want speed. The process will bring along the accuracy.

I am familiar with the expanded blogs you site to, as well as the big-on-launch blogs like Huffington Post and Pajamas Media. Its a natural enough impulse, to want to grab more of the attention field, but I think resources are better devoted to better narrow-casting, improving quality and depth of posts within your niche. All of the blogs you mention suffer from diffusion. Josh is smart enough to keep himself as the focal point, but I still haven't figured out what that Cafe is about, although I'm getting there. Chris Nolan's "Spot On" is one that rarely makes it out of reader, because with 6 voices, it tends to seem mushy and all over the place. Hullabaloo, OTOH, is mostly Digby and you know what you get (and want).

Good luck and I'll be watching with interest, as always.

Posted by: Mark J. McPherson at February 7, 2006 7:28 PM | Permalink

Jeff: Why newspaper blogging? It is a bit of old think--like the category "print major" at so many J-schools--but I wanted to start with something the students could easily de-limit and focus in on.

For example, we are planning to look at all of the top 100 newspaper sites and find out how many even have blogs. Very basic, but as far as I know that information does not exist.

Interesting comments; thanks, Jenny, Tiger, Mark.

Mark's concerns are very much on my mind. I don't want to expand PressThink just to have a bigger operation or "grab more of the attention field," as you aptly put it. And I don't want to suffer the diffusion you point to. Blue Plate Special is designed to add depth, and multiply the perspectives available on the topics we will take up. It is supposed to be "in line" with what PressThink is already known for.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 7, 2006 9:17 PM | Permalink

Thanks for the plug stuffed tiger.

Yeah, if you all are looking for a site revamp I suggest you contact our web designer here. She rocks!!!!! And she most definately can help you with your project.

Posted by: The Bastard at February 7, 2006 9:20 PM | Permalink

If one wants to become a contributor, what exactly is the process? Is it like TPM Cafe, where every registered user gets a blog and editors frontpage it? Or does one have to apply?

Posted by: Dan Miller at February 7, 2006 9:59 PM | Permalink

If you mean become a contributor to Blue Plate Special No. 1 on newspaper blogging (we do need qualified writers capable of producing in a week) then what you should do is e-mail me.

Contributors to PressThink? I have decided to do that yet. It is one of the options I am mulling.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 7, 2006 10:36 PM | Permalink

Here's the Line-up so far: Not all of these will work out of course. Each is supposed to be a blog post, but in the old media style ("cover story") as noted.

1. The Best Blogging Newspapers

2. Who's Blogging: The Chart

3. The Worst Newspaper Blogs

Cover story package

4. The Editor as Blogger: John Robinson of Greensboro

Major profile/interview

5. Reporters Who Blog

Major feature with interviews

6. Timeline of newspaper blog history

Informational Feature

7. Funniest Newspaper Blogs

Lighter Feature

8. Blogs at college newspapers

Report and critique

9. Dead and Abandoned Blogs


10. Ultra-Specific or Hyper-Specialized Blogs

Lighter Feature

11. David Carr's Carpetbagger Blog


12. The Design Sensibility of Newspaper Blogs


13. International Newspaper Blogging

Feature Story

14. Close-Up on the Houston Chronicle Bloging section

Case Study

15. Rating the transparency blogs

Trend Story

16. Comments: State of the Art


17. Miniature best-ofs: sports, tech, family blogs

Informational Feature

18. Guide to Business and Giant Company Bloggers


19. National Newspaper Blogging

Notes and Commentary

20. Blogging at the Alt Weeklies

Trend Story

21. Canadian Newspaper Blogging

Overview with Links

22. Blogging at Smaller Newspapers

Overview with Links.


Comments welcome, additions and edits too. We have writers for some of these; students will handle many. Still looking for contributors for some.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 8, 2006 1:57 AM | Permalink

I'm not as certain as you seem to be that the expansion of blogs is without drawbacks. I've posted about it here.

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) at February 8, 2006 4:24 AM | Permalink

Have your BPS writers look at the blogs at the Dayton (OH) Daily News, especially Scott Elliot's education blog called Get on the Bus. He's good, getting comments, at a smaller paper.

Posted by: JennyD at February 8, 2006 7:42 AM | Permalink

And in the other parallel universe . . .

Paul Farhi, Under Siege in Feb./March American Journalism Review.

An excerpt:

"The question is, if newspapers, online or on paper, don't provide the resources to report on their communities in depth, who will? . . . So far, the answer appears to be almost no one . . . Bloggers – one of the Internet's most important info-innovations – don't offer much hope. Bloggers mainly chew over facts that others have collected – in essence repeating, not reporting . . . The much-ballyhooed citizens' or community journalism movement would seem to offer limited potential . . . But most good journalism can't be done by hobbyists."

Posted by: Kirsten at February 8, 2006 8:11 AM | Permalink

One could offer many examples of good old fashioned journalism making the same point. Ryan Blitstein in a SF Weekly profile of Craig Newmark, for example. Newmark, he says several times, is destroying good old fashioned newspaper journalism, and good old fashioned alternative newspaper journalism:

Citizen journalism may become a helpful supplement to mainstream reporting, especially in smaller towns, just as bloggers help elucidate news on specific topics for millions of readers. But the more important (and more challenging) the stories are, the more likely it is that citizen journalists won't have the wherewithal to complete them. "Citizen journalism will not be the Fourth Estate," Cauthorn says. "It's not going to sit down and stare across the room at an army of lawyers for some government official who's outraged that you've written about his misdeeds."

In the best case, Newmark is joining a movement that will someday be of moderate help to the mainstream media. In the worst case, citizen journalism's optimistic supporters, in neglecting the problems of the public institution that is the mainstream press, may leave America with both a failing news media and a mediocre technology that offers little assistance on essential stories.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 8, 2006 8:22 AM | Permalink

In the worst case, citizen journalism's optimistic supporters, in neglecting the problems of the public institution that is the mainstream press, may leave America with both a failing news media and a mediocre technology that offers little assistance on essential stories.

Or more likely, such groups will develop new models which the mainstream press will eventually reluctantly adopt in an effort to maintain earnings for shareholders. Hmm or maybe that's a touch too cynical...

Posted by: ToddG at February 8, 2006 11:51 AM | Permalink

Web 2.0 (the concept, dammit, not its promoters -- don't change the subject) suggests that what's new and transformative online isn't new whiz-bang tech, but the social applications of basic tech tools.

So if the revolutionary aspect of Web 2.0 lies within social networks, perhaps the place to go in search of the answer to our constant question (where will we find the money and support for quality new media journalism?) lies not in technology or in journalism or in various convergence theories, but in the untapped capabilities of person-to-person online networks. Specifically: their financial capabilities.

What's the big hurdle for so many endeavors? Capitalization. And how do you get capitalization? You go to a bank. Or your parents. You schmooze VCs or you mortgage your house. Either you've got money/connections to money, or you work through the traditional intermediaries, none of whom give a damn about your product or your interest. They're in it for the return on investment, whether you're selling porn or quality niche journalism.

Maybe the last piece of the puzzle that has to fall into place is the creation of reliable online social tools that allow groups to build capitalization around shared interests. Just as the power of the blogosphere lies within the magic of the distributed network, so too might personal financial networks change our ideas about capitalism.

We want better stuff, and there are clearly people out there who are making that better stuff. But when we ask for it, the people with the money to invest tell us there isn't a sufficient market. Which is bullshit -- it's just that the people with the capital expect different scales of profitability. They want the largest possible markets, and that means averaging of taste and interest and quality.

Never mind that if you had perfectly targeted products for every niche you'd sell a lot more stuff -- it's that everybody wants the big quick score. And that means you get generic journalism, generic summer blockbusters, generic bestsellers.

More than two years ago I proposed a way that people with a shared interest in particular kinds of fiction could work together cooperatively to select and publish new novels -- using classic market capitalism and online social tools. When I think about that idea today, I realize that my Virtual Publishing Groups concept was an awful lot like what Craig's List does. Give people the opportunity to create relationships and conduct business.

Craig's List is what Phil Meyer calls "a bad competitor" because it doesn't have the same profit expectations as newspapers. consequently, it can do a better job for less. It's still capitalism, but with different rules.

Maybe what emerging media needs is some kind of Open Source Capitalism.

Posted by: Daniel Conover at February 8, 2006 1:01 PM | Permalink

Well it is good to see improved technology being used effectivley. Nothing wrong with that,but i am a bit skeptical in what will happen to the foundation that the art of journalism is built on. A blogger can post anything and it is considered news. The focus that the web blogs has taken on is not so much for content but for an experimentation in technology that will eventually lead to the making of profit, leaving the consumers with nothing more that cyber gibberish.

Posted by: newstouse at February 8, 2006 4:21 PM | Permalink

Lisa, Zack and the whole CivicSpace team is working on a campaign in a box type implementation. They are getting closer with each release. You should drop those silly blogger admins a note and tell them to email Zack. There are a number of low cost consultants that can get them up on a CivicSpace site in no time. I should know, I run a CivicSpace site for a living.

Uncle, congrats on the expansion. It would be hard to study blogging without actually participating in it.

I think it is a great idea to get future journalists feet wet in the medium. I had a run-in the other week with a reporter and newly minted blogger the other week. The experience impressed upon me that there is much to learn about how the blogosphere operates, especially for those new to the concept of interaction.

Posted by: Julia Rosen at February 8, 2006 8:23 PM | Permalink


Posted by: JennyD at February 8, 2006 9:01 PM | Permalink

No, dynasty.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 8, 2006 9:44 PM | Permalink

lol. That's right, a Rosen dynasty. Jay which one of your kids is going to follow all of our footsteps?

Posted by: Julia Rosen at February 8, 2006 10:55 PM | Permalink

Well, one of them wanted to know if, as a result of this blog, I was as a famous as Barbie (who is not allowed in the house, I might add.)

Re: Daniel Conover's open-source capitalism. One of the tricky things about news is that, as an economic good, it would be worth more if you had it, and other people didn't. Thus, the oil industry newsletter that costs $4,000 a year. But a big part of the reason we care about news is that we want everyone to have it. When Chris Allbritton's readers sent him (ultimately) $14,000 to go cover the war in Iraq as an independent, they wanted his reports to be freely available to the whole world. That was part of what they were "buying."

I have been listening to WNYC this week, which has its pledge fund going; and they don't seem to get this. I notice that when they explain to you why you should support your public radio station, it's all about you and what you "get." ("Maybe you listen to Prarie Home Companion and Car Talk on the weekends, or All Things Considered on your way home...") They don't try to sell you a membership based on what WNYC and NPR does for us, or the wider public. Inevitably the appeals come down to guilt on the individual level-- you have been listening all this time, and yet you aren't a member? As against the appeal of making it possible for others to listen for free.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 9, 2006 8:26 AM | Permalink

re: the NPR approach. That's the "media as public charity" model. Our non-profit sector is a mixed bag, to be sure, but it's a sector that exists largely outside of the capitalist economy.

So far we've seen (thanks in large part to people like your niece) how the web can be used to organize communities around shared ideas and interests. What I'm wondering about would be something beyond that -- not media as charity, but media as some kind of cooperative economics.

Posted by: Daniel Conover at February 9, 2006 10:23 AM | Permalink

I'd like to see blogs interface with print media to provide transparency. Along the lines of your blogger conference with Wapo, but more. And with better feedback avenues [non-abusive] for corrections or inquiry of process - how you formed the piece, and why. For example, Micheal Yon's explanation of the embed process was fascinating.

Posted by: Fen at February 9, 2006 12:17 PM | Permalink

NPR makes a common "sales" mistake by talking about features instead of benefits. Dumb dumb dumb. Simple marketing stuff, really.

And Jay, the fact that Barbie isn't allowed in the Rosen house just raised my esteem for you.

Posted by: Roxanne Cooper at February 9, 2006 10:21 PM | Permalink

Jay didn't say anything about Ken though...

Posted by: ToddG at February 10, 2006 11:01 AM | Permalink

And I read now that Ken has had a makeover, although he still has no last name. Jay, let him in!

Posted by: JennyD at February 10, 2006 2:28 PM | Permalink

Hi, Jay. Thanks for the nod. I'm curious as to why you think getting Eric into the press room was smart. It's turned out well, but it wasn't the product of anything resembling a long-term plan and I don't think I've really capitalized on it well.

One of the things I did want to do was get back in the Google News database, which is something I recommend to anyone involved with a multi-contributor blog. Our presence there generates a significant amount of traffic and it brings in readers beyond the usual suspects. Google won't use sole proprietors as sources, so adding Eric and my first contributor, Paul Berger — an independent journalist with credits including the NY Times, and who responded to the call for BTC contributors which you were kind enough to post — was critical. Anyone wanting to join the source roster should nominate themselves by writing to

I'm looking for additional contributors again, women writers in particular. If anyone's interested, drop me a note at

Thanks again, Jay.

Posted by: weldon berger at February 11, 2006 5:48 AM | Permalink

Weldon: When BTC News got its own correspondent into the White House press room, and he asked questions of the press secretary, this event, like the invitation to bloggers to cover the national political conventions in '04 as members with the same "credentials," established in the most official way things like this can be established, that the borders of the press had decisively shifted.

This is what I didn't appreciate at the time about your scheme.

Now it was clearly evident that "the press" had both professional and amateur wings. And not only that: Eric and BTC demonstrated why the nation would benefit from this change because he asked McClellan questions the professional scribblers didn't want to ask.

Your moves were among a number of symbolic nails in the coffin for the idea that professional journalists could monopolize the press as a practical instrument. They can't, anymore.

That theme lies in the background of a new interview I will publish tomorrow with John Harris of the Washington Post, the national politics editor. It's an attempt to get Harris to lay out his press think (and blog-think) by subjecting him to some of mine. I think it will interest many people in the blogosphere. In fact, I can't wait to publish it. (If you're up late Saturday night, look in.)

That's interesting what you said about Google News including a blog in the category "news" if it has more than one author. It's like they are saying you have to be an operation, not an individual.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 11, 2006 4:53 PM | Permalink

With bloggers in the White House briefings -- which is a good idea -- it will be interesting to see how they respond to the carrot-and-stick of access that the White House uses so well.

Posted by: David McLemore at February 11, 2006 8:01 PM | Permalink

It's odd that in the listing of blog expansion you fail to mention Daily Kos, which did the expansion first, has continued to be at the leading edge, and is the most successful.

Posted by: Brad Johnson at February 11, 2006 8:28 PM | Permalink

That's true. Kos was first. Kos is the greatest online community of them all. But the exclusion is not odd because Kos--a huge site--is not a model for PressThink, which has a fraction of its traffic and user base. My list was of expansions that spoke to the possibilities I saw for this weblog.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 11, 2006 8:52 PM | Permalink

I am waiting on final changes from John Harris, which may not come til Sunday. Unless he's working very late, which I kinda doubt on a Saturday night.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 12, 2006 12:37 AM | Permalink

Dave, there really isn't any carrot/stick dynamic with Eric, other than that he sometimes gets ignored for a day or two if McClellan finds one of his questions particularly annoying. Eric isn't cultivating access to any of the other players, and our media affairs contact has never refused him a day pass, so he doesn't have to do any lap dog stuff and he doesn't have or want the opportunity to become a cocktail circuit reporter. If we add any other correspondents, we'll have to think seriously about what role and what rules we want to play by.

Jay, that aspect of the exercise, getting the blog recognized in essence as a press organization, was intentional. I think I mentioned it to Froomkin at the time.

Posted by: weldon berger at February 12, 2006 2:34 AM | Permalink

I've just been lurking the past few weeks here but I just wanted to add - to those who might not know - that one of the questions that "the professional scribblers didn't want to ask" was asked by Eric Brewer on May 23, 2005. Brewer was the first journalist to bring up the Downing Street memo - on camera - at a White House briefing or gaggle.

Posted by: Ron Brynaert at February 12, 2006 5:49 AM | Permalink

Yes to what Weldon and Ron said.

The snowstorm socking the East Coast knocked out power at the Harris house yesterday, and that's why I didn't hear from him with final changes.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 12, 2006 9:14 AM | Permalink

It ain't just about left-wingers at the WH daily briefing. Here, Paul Mirengoff asks some uncomfortable questions to Dick Durbin on the NSA hearings----and it ain't purty!

Posted by: abigail beecher at February 12, 2006 4:53 PM | Permalink

There won't be any interview with John Harris, fans. He withdrew permission after it was completed. All that was left was to click "publish." Something about a book and editors who had reservations about him doing the Q and A. He said in a few months he will tell me the real story. Whatever.

You have one unhappy press blogger today. That's a lots of work thrown in the dumpster.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 12, 2006 6:12 PM | Permalink

There won't be any interview with John Harris, fans. He withdrew permission after it was completed. All that was left was to click "publish." Something about a book and editors who had reservations about him doing the Q and A. He said in a few months he will tell me the real story. Whatever.
You have one unhappy press blogger today. That's a lots of work thrown in the dumpster.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 12, 2006 06:12 PM

Oy vey.
Sorry about that, Jay. I was halfway convinced that the Post was serious about transparency and about interactivity. At least we now know the answer to that question: Ummm, not so much.
This is a telling moment. The rubberband snaps back. The legacy media -- even the leading edge of the legacy media -- cannot resist the magnetic pull of the old system of "We tell you," instead of "We have a conversation."
Very depressing.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at February 12, 2006 7:11 PM | Permalink

It is depressing, yes.

I deliberately stayed away from the Froomkin and Howell episodes in the interview, in the belief that we could have more of a conversation without those two flashpoints. Harris had claimed (to me) that he was misunderstood in all the furor over White House Briefing, that a caricature of him had been circulated in the blogosphere, and that the "larger issues" he wanted to talk about had been obscured.

This was the whole point of our Q and A, to be a corrective to the inevitably distorted portrait that emerges from a red-hot controversy. The e-mail Q and A format is the opposite of an off-the-cuff or heat-of-the-moment response-- its deliberative. You can be careful. You can say exactly what you mean.

Which makes the last minute withdrawal doubly depressing.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 12, 2006 7:55 PM | Permalink

Abigail (or Kilgore, or whoever you are):

Powerline is playing word games. It's presuming that the congressional vote to authorize the use of military force is a "statute," and that such "statute" overrides FISA.

In what Orwellian world does "use of military force" translate to computer-generated sweeps of the phone calls and e-mails of any and every American citizen ?

And when did conservatives stop being concerned about the rights of the individual against the unannounced and undeclared powers of the centralized state ?

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at February 12, 2006 9:00 PM | Permalink

Jay, that's too bad. He missed a great opportunity. And it doesn't do anything to shine up the Post's image either.

Posted by: JennyD at February 12, 2006 9:22 PM | Permalink

Still think the WaPo cares about transparency?

Posted by: InsultComicDog at February 13, 2006 1:01 AM | Permalink

Compared to whom?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 13, 2006 9:20 AM | Permalink

I really like the sound of your students running the new site, Jay. That gives them a great chance to ponder and likely shape the philosophy of the new press that they will be becoming.

On an off-topic note, Kurtz' read on Cheney sending word to the local paper, rather than to the national press corps, was a thumbing of the nose. I heard the same from Tucker Carlson last night, that this is only a case of "wounded pride" on behalf of the White House/national
press corps.

The delineation here is pretty clear: the press corps sees itself (as it has long been) as a key part of how government works, and the Bush people see the press as just another outside force working against the president -- to be subverted and undermined whenever possible.

Posted by: Richard B. Simon at February 14, 2006 11:31 AM | Permalink

This is old stuff ... the White House sees the press as another interest group, not a way to communicate to the masses, according to this great profile by Ken Auletta.

Every modern President has complained about “unfair” and “cynical” reporters and has tried to circumvent the press “filter,” just as White House correspondents routinely complain that their access is restricted, that the Administration is hostile or deceptive. Even President Kennedy, who liked journalists and was masterly in his manipulation of them, complained to the Times about David Halberstam’s early reporting of the Vietnam conflict, and, angry over coverage of his Administration, cancelled the White House subscription to the Herald Tribune.

What seems new with the Bush White House is the unusual skill that it has shown in keeping much of the press at a distance while controlling the news agenda. And for perhaps the first time the White House has come to see reporters as special pleaders—pleaders for more access and better headlines—as if the press were simply another interest group, and, moreover, an interest group that’s not nearly as powerful as it once was.

Posted by: bush's jaw at February 14, 2006 12:03 PM | Permalink

PressThink was on that two years ago, Jaw.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at February 14, 2006 12:10 PM | Permalink

i knew that Jay, as well as your excellent Roll Back column.

Posted by: bush's jaw at February 14, 2006 12:41 PM | Permalink

i knew that Jay, as well as your excellent Roll Back column. people seem to forget that this WH really understands the press.

Posted by: bush's jaw at February 14, 2006 12:45 PM | Permalink

Old, yes, but relevant here (which is why I bring it up.)

I read Michelle Malkin's column about this, and was struck when she bemoaned that this event would eclipse the rest of Cheney's service to his country.

It made me think of Howard Dean, and understand what happened to him a bit better. I've never understood why the caricature of Dean was so different from what I know about his actual record as a Governor.

I never quite understood why the "Dean scream" became his defining moment.

Yesterday, I thought about -- I think it was Matt Taibbi, who I saw recounting his time on the road during campaign '04, speaking about how the Press Corps sort of has a sense of a candidate and pokes and pokes until they know whether or not their sense of that candidate is accurate. They poked and poked Dean to find out whether he was as "prickly" as the caricature -- and they found that he was.

So "the scream" became a really handy metaphor -- synechdoche really -- for this public persona as a wildman.

In the same way, I see this happening with Cheney in the press.

Taken by itself, this event is minor, and clearly an accident. But it has become a metaphor -- an instant metaphor -- and an apt metaphor for so much of how this White House does business. That's why we all knew that the night comedians would have a field day. Humor traffics in metaphor and analogy. It is Iraq and it is secrecy. It is aiming at Bin Ladin but hitting Saddam instead. And as far as the press is concerned, it is the unwillingness to engage.

This is why this event is eating itself, and why the failure to address the press has become the issue. That's the press's issue -- and this is the metaphor.

If this is Cheney's defining moment, it will not be because everyone just wants to make fun of him for making a serious blunder here, but because it is (much like Katrina was) a powerful and visual metaphor.

My prediction is that Garry Trudeau will debut a new icon ... Cheney as shotgun.

Posted by: Richard B. Simon at February 14, 2006 2:58 PM | Permalink

Very astute, RBS. Thanks for an extremely useful insight.

Posted by: Bill Watson at February 14, 2006 3:30 PM | Permalink

sorry, more OT.
regarding Dean and the scream. i never understood how the scream derailed Dean.
was that the press or Dean himself?
would Dean still have lost Iowa and NH without the scream?
it's like blaming the Seahawks loss solely on the refs. what about the drop passes and giving up big plays?

how powerful is net grassroots vs. establishment?

Posted by: bush's jaw at February 14, 2006 4:38 PM | Permalink

Wrong question, bush's jaw

Right question: How powerful is net grassroots vs. net grassroots and establishment?

Posted by: Ron Brynaert at February 15, 2006 11:52 PM | Permalink

yeah, at the time i didn't know Markos supported the move. it should be net grassroots and establishment, in media as well.

Posted by: bush's jaw at February 16, 2006 12:18 AM | Permalink

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