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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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March 27, 2007

Participate in Politics by Covering the Campaign: NewAssignment.Net and Huffington Post Team Up

More eyes and ears, more voices, and more people with more sources of information, more experts with more specialties, more writers on more beats, some of them quite offbeat...

Arianna Huffington and I are announcing today a new joint venture in campaign journalism. It will be a partnership between NewAssignment.Net, my experimental site for “pro-am” reporting, and the Huffington Post, where I have been an occasional contributor.

Our idea is not complicated: it’s campaign reporting by a great many more people than would ever fit on the bus that the boys (and girls) of the press have famously gotten on and off every four years, as they try to cover the race for president.

So instead of one well-placed reporter trailing John Edwards wherever he goes (which is one way of doing it) some 40 or 50 differently-placed people tracking different parts of the Edwards campaign, all with peculiar beats and personal blogs linked together by virtue of having a common editor and a page through which the best and most original stuff filters out to the greater readership of the Web, especially via the Huffington Post.

This was the idea I sketched for Arianna and her editorial team. “And we should do it for multiple candidates,” I said. I left it to them to decide how far down the probability scale we would reach.

Arianna’s announcement post from today has most of the details you’ll need. “We’ll have a Clinton blog, an Obama blog, an Edwards blog, a McCain blog, a Giuliani blog, a Romney blog, a Biden blog, a Richardson blog, a Dodd blog, a Kucinich blog, a Brownback blog, a Huckabee blog,” she writes. “The larger campaigns could have 50 to 100 or more people following them.” The group blogs will also feature a compendium of the merely useful information about each candidate, including latest speeches, upcoming appearances, new videos out, the official and unofficial ads, news coverage of course, and oddities like an organizational chart.

Sometime this spring, then, we’ll roll out twelve new pages at NewAssignment.Net with a mix of news, information, original reporting and views not-found-elsewhere. Behind each candidate page will be a contributors’ network built by hand, made up of people who would like to participate in the 2008 election by claiming a campaign beat and making their own news and commentary, in collaboration with others doing the same thing (but coming from a different place.) All overseen by an editor paid to make the whole thing run, and evaluated by how good the twelve pages are.

In our current plan, the new sites will be co-branded by the Huffington Post, but they will live at a section of our site, which is how Assignment Zero, our current project with, works. (Read David Carr’s column about it in the New York Times.)

So there’s a structure, and for the contributors substantial freedom within that structure. Some order, some chaos. There are editors filtering, but contributors post what they want at their own mini-blogs. We don’t pay you for your time if you choose to become one of our contributors. Neither do we own your work. A Creative Commons license will apply to it. There will be no ads at the NewAssignment.Net site, which is non-profit. The Huffington Post, which does have ads, will have the right to pull content from our 12 candidate pages.

The Huffington Post is going to cover the 2008 campaign in a variety of ways. It’s been hiring reporters to do original digging. It will have the normal range of contributors doing commentary for the HP blog. It will do quick investigations. And it will try the strength-in-numbers approach with NewAssignment.Net.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

If you’d like to be involved as a contributor, read Arianna’s post, then send your name, contact info, and which campaign you may want to follow to

More background: I did a guest post about the project at Mark Glaser’s Media Shift site: Escaping the Bubble in Campaign Journalism. (March 29)

For each candidate, we’ll have lots of correspondents outside the bubble tracking parts of the campaign that touch their own interests, or tap their own knowledge. Instead of hundreds of reporters on the bus, all doing the same beat, we’ll have hundreds of different beats (and melodies) coming not from the campaign trail but from different places in the United States where politics is part of life, and the presidential campaign “lands” on people every four years, as if from above.

The people on whom it falls are qualifed to write about the campaign, we feel. We don’t want them on the bus, except as visitors to a strange country they might describe with fresh eyes.

Danny Glover at National Journal’s Beltway Blogger: An Online Revolution In Campaign Coverage. “Coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign will be nothing like coverage of the past if bloggers Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post and Jay Rosen of NewAssignment.Net have their way…”

Frank Barnako at Huffington, NewAssignment.Net plan swarming campaign coverage.

It will be especially interesting to see how long these volunteers will stay on duty. If you’ve ever been on a campaign trail, you know how hectic and tiring - and ultimately boring - it can be to cover one candidate. Without a bi-weekly incentive, like a paycheck, it can be doubly challenging.

There will be some who have stick-to-it-tiveness. Odds are a few of the passionate and hard working will get noticed and, what do you want to bet, get hired by, oh, say

Ellen Miller at the Sunlight Foundation site takes notice: “I can’t help but wonder how we might apply this concept to some key Congressional campaigns in 2008.”

Aldon Hynes at Orient Lodge:

I hope that Jay and Arianna’s efforts will help people find their voice in the political discourse. However, I worry that it might be the same rich white ivy school educated young men that I run into on the blogs and the conferences across our country. I worry that the discourse might end up being not substantially different from the nasty, horse race, Coke or Pepsi type coverage that we see in the traditional mainstream media.

We’re going to try not to do that, Aldon, because that would be unfortunate, boring and dumb.

Over at PJNet, Len Witt interviews me about Assignment Zero and how it’s going so far. Excerpt…

Witt: Given the magnitude of the project and doing things on the fly, what’s the mood of your shop? How does it square with, shall we say, your feisty personality?

Rosen: Uh, well, we’re all learning as we go. Me included. But the mood in general is very high because we launched without a really major screw-up, and we’re underway. The immediate response from participants was also very invigorating and it told us we weren’t crazy to attempt to do a story this way. I think we’re all curious about how it works. One thing I found helps is when the experiment morphs from a very unfamiliar shape — 700 people on one story — into a very familiar shape from the practice of journalism. Like on March 22, Lauren Sandler gave out the first wave of writing and reporting gigs. All of sudden, what we’re doing looked very traditional. I like that: the “flip” from one to the other. The method I call “pro-am” is about moments like that. It sometimes looks very traditional, other times radically different.

Read the rest.

Last summer I wrote The People Formerly Known as the Audience. It got around. Apparently leading to this: The People formerly known as The Congregation.

Posted by Jay Rosen at March 27, 2007 2:09 AM   Print


Wow - this one's really going to be an adventure.

One feature that'd be cool would be a "what should we ask [candidate]" section, for everyone to submit questions.

A caveat, to belabor the obvious - the project needs an excellent immune system, to protect against (or at least identify) campaign-affiliated infiltrators/stooges.

Surowiecki's "independent" reqt won't be met, if the most active participants are secretly mouthpieces. And if they browbeat the editors into featuring their work. Food for thought - what would such an immune system look like?

Posted by: Anna Haynes at March 27, 2007 10:48 AM | Permalink

I agree with Ellen Miller that this should be extended to local campaigns and not just at the congressional level.

It is important to have more and better coverage of the campaign for president - especially of the issues instead of the horserace.

But it is just as important to cover the local races that get undercovered (particularly on tv news, but even at newspapers far too often). These offices and ballot propositions can be just as important to people's lives, and good coverage could have an even bigger impact to educate people and increase participation and voting.

Perhaps you could team up with local media organizations or non-profits. It may not be possible to do this in every community in 2008, but some pilot projects in 2008 could lead to far more coverage in 2010.

Also, for the Huffington Post project, I'd imagine some people will cover a city or region more than a specific campaign. For example when McCain, Clinton, Obama, Guilliana, etc come to San Francisco.

One thing that would help is better public access to the candidate's schedules. The Edwards website listed a public politicy speech in San Francisco on Monday, but no details. Then even that was removed. If I had known the location, I would have gone.

Posted by: Steve Rhodes at March 27, 2007 2:05 PM | Permalink


Posted by: political forum at March 28, 2007 5:57 PM | Permalink

That's what the link is the first paragraph is for. If you had clicked it, you would have found a welcome page that starts with your question. It reads...

What is NewAssignment.Net?

New Assignment.Net is a non-profit site that tries to spark innovation in journalism by showing that open collaboration over the Internet among reporters, editors and large groups of users can produce high-quality work that serves the public interest, holds up under scrutiny, and builds trust.

A second aim is to figure out how to fund this work through a combination of online donations, micro-payments, traditional fundraising, syndication rights, sponsorships, advertising and any other method that does not compromise the site�s independence or reputation.

At New Assignment, pros and amateurs cooperate to produce work that neither could manage alone. The site uses open source methods to develop good assignments and help bring them to completion. It pays professional journalists to carry the project home and set high standards; they work closely with users who have something to contribute.

Another way to say what it is... Go see Assignment Zero and read about it.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 29, 2007 1:02 AM | Permalink

Wow. With the Huffington Post no less!

No liberal bias to see here, folks. Move along. Move along.

Seriously - do you want to sully the approach so early out of the gate by associating with Huffpo?

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at April 5, 2007 12:08 PM | Permalink

From the Intro