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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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June 19, 2007

OffTheBus Hires Two People Who Know How to Organize 200: Amanda Michel and Zack Exley

Michel will be Project Director. Exley, senior adviser and featured correspondent. Both could have worked for candidates in '08. Instead they chose to take what they learned from organizing campaigns on the Net and adapt it to political journalism in the open style.

Some big news today for OffTheBus.Net, the joint venture in campaign journalism I have undertaken with Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post.

The Project Director, and the one responsible for day-to-day management, will be Amanda Michel, most recently our Director of Participation for Assignment Zero. She worked for the Dean and the Kerry-Edwards campaigns in 2004.

Joining her will be Zack Exley, who was Director of Online Organizing and Communications for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004. He directed the online campaign for the British Labor Party’s 2005 re-election. Before that he worked for and before that he was a union organizer. He will serve as Senior Adviser and traveling correspondent for OffTheBus, reporting from overlooked vantage points on the campaign trail.

(See the Press Release for more.)

Michel and Exley have worked together before. They were both sent to Ohio in 2004 when Amanda was on the Kerry campaign’s Internet team. They are co-founders (with others) of the New Organizing Institute, which trains young techies and political organizers in the essentials of the online world.

“Of all the people we talked to and interviewed for this project, Zack and Amanda were the ones who really understood what we are trying to accomplish,” says Arianna in her post today.

They convinced me to modify my original plan and turn OffTheBus into a more open blogging platform, where anyone can sign up and get a blog on our system by filling out a profile and meeting some simple disclosure requirements.

Zack Exley at his post today, Time to get off the bus:

When thousands of us get together to investigate how the campaigns are operating in all of our communities, we can piece together a moving picture of American politics that’s more complete than anything the mainstream news has ever been able to consider.

The design we’re planning to go with for our mid-July launch (subject to change, of course) features…

  • Open blogging platform with a filter-to-the-front-page system for culling the best stuff;
  • Page editors (starting with one front page) who mix the best blog posts with headlines from campaign ‘08 and incoming video and audio.
  • A free-floating corps of OffTheBus bloggers, some of whom may wish to track particular candidates, or develop specialties and beats, though there is no requirement that they do so.
  • A larger pool of participants (the OffTheBus contact list) who are willing and able to collaborate in occasional acts of distributed reporting; they may or may not use their OffTheBus blogs much.
  • A network of volunteers with usable expertise (in election law, say, or the purchase of advertising time) who are willing to help our bloggers and advise on projects, organized as a searchable data base.
  • Good quality disclosure forms and routines that make it make it crystal clear where a contributor is coming from, who she is, and is for.
  • Pro editors and writers who volunteer to mentor and consult with talented bloggers as they are spotted from OffTheBus personal blogs.

There won’t be any elaborate chain of command as there is in a newsroom, just page editors filtering for quality, bloggers who publish what they choose, and the list from which people volunteer for big projects. The controls come in what we decide to promote to the front page and send out as daily feeds, in how we design our special initiatives.

The way it’s developing, then, OffTheBus.Net will look a little like a campaign (because it involves organizing people) something like a news organization (which can hopefully break news) sorta like a specialized blogging platform (which we will try to equip with better and better tools in response to user demand) and even a bit like Assignment Zero at times (in that lots of people are helping to tackle one big story lasting 16 months.)

Realistically, with Michel and Exley and their background working for Democratic candidates, with the Huffington Post and its liberal leaning profile in the online world, with Arianna (from L.A.) and Rosen (from the heartland of Manhattan) as publishers, this is going to be seen as a project originating on the “blue” side of red-blue politics. The majority of contributors will probably lean that way, as well, with a healthy number of independents and a few conservatives. (That’s what our recruiting shows so far.)

This makes it way more of a challenge to cover the Republican candidates accurately and well, but we think it can be done. Certainly we won’t be crowing about the inherent “objectivity” of our coverage, or the professional distance our participants keep from politics. We won’t require people to pledge that they haven’t a single dog in any political fight. Those are virtues without much vitality in this kind of journalism, which is is participatory and indeed somewhat chaotic. But as we said in the news announcement: “Page editors as filters will apply the same standards of quality, accuracy and truthfulness to all posts and all candidates.”

When I introduced the idea for OffTheBus at my blog, PressThink, I invited people within range to participate in politics by covering the campaign. Now we have gone a step further, hiring organizers who know how to work with volunteers, use the Net efficiently, and hold down coordination costs, trusting they can more easily learn the journalism part than journalists could learn what Exley and Michel know about the human factor in open systems.

They both understand that the falling costs for like-minded people to find each other, share information and collaborate on good works (as well as works of evil….) probably means we can do new and exciting things in political journalism, but it is still very hard to do those things because our knowledge of how to organize scattered people with limited time and definite interest is still primitive.

I do know this: Open platforms do not resemble and cannot be made to run like closed systems such as a professional newsroom presents. They are different animals. They have different advantages, different costs. They require different skills to operate. I don’t think OffTheBus is going to blow horse race journalism out of the water. And I don’t think it’s going to be easy to realize gains from the open style in campaign reporting. There’s a long way to go before we know how to do it.

But I’d bet on these two to puzzle it out in public. Anyway, Arianna and I just did.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

Hail, citizen person! Wanna join up with OffTheBus? From Arianna’s post:

We are especially looking for:

a) people who want to be part of our blog network and, as bloggers, correspondents, and critics follow a candidate, develop a beat or stake out some original territory.

b) people who want to join our mailing list and be notified about special projects and investigations they can help with.

c) people who have a special expertise, technical skill, or knowledge of campaigns or politics that our bloggers and staff could call on from time to time for advice and input.

So send in your name, contact info, location and zip code, plus a bit about your own interests in campaign coverage. How? Email us.

Zack Exley’s advice to campaigns: Don’t hire an Internet person.

The Flack wonders:

Personally, I’m enthralled by the prospect of a presumably richer portrait of those who aspire to lead this nation. At least we’ll get past the recycled sound bites that appear in the finite news holes of the mainstream media (but not necessarily their sister websites.)

From a PR perspective, however, I wonder about the scalability of the credentialing process, and more specifically, who gets them and who doesn’t. By laying down the gauntlet early, do Jay and Arianna hope their now-branded band of bloggers will be given access to the hallowed halls traversed by campaign insiders? (The bet is they don’t need it.)

Not worried about it at all. If they give us credentials and someone from OffTheBus attends, fine. If they don’t, better. The creativity and originality we’re looking for are more likely to come from people outside the hallowed halls.

Rob Bluey of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Media and Public Policy is skeptical.

Tim Schmoyer thinks we blew it: OffTheBus Already on the Wrong Track. “Sounds like the intellectual diversity of a typical newsroom already, doesn’t it? In fact, I’d argue the decisions made by Jay and Arianna have limited the organizing outreach of OffTheBus.”

Patrick Ruffini, who has had positions analogous to Zack Exley’s in the Republican sphere, asks: Is OffTheBus a Rigged Deal?

This is the blogosphere, so there is no warranty of objectivity or balance. The Huffington Post can hire anyone they want, as far as I’m concerned. But by bringing in Rosen, one of the nation’s preeminent media critics, they clearly wanted this to look like a respectable journalistic enterprise, and not a partisan left-wing one. That raises the bar for them a bit.

It’s eerily similar to other recent nonpartisan efforts in the world of online politics that purport to be bipartisan, but by design or in practice work out to be less than that. Take the questions about Facebook’s playing favorites with Obama. Or Lawrence Lessig’s letter to the RNC about freeing the debates, which was heavily stacked with left-leaning signatories until Mike Turk and David All worked to round up more Republicans. (I’ll cop to not being ready to sign when first approached, but eventually doing so.)

Are conservatives just perennially late to the party here? Or are the social circles in which the Rosens and Huffingtons run dictating personnel decisions about cool projects and thus perceptions of who is up and down online?

As far as I know, I haven’t imported or purported anything about “bipartisanship” as the spirit of the thing. I have said we’re making political news for everyone. We’re going to cover candidates in both races and try to do it well, and in filtering to the front page apply the same quality standards to all candidates and all posts. I have also said that it’s an open platform. Anyone can fill out the forms and claim an OffTheBus blog.

Bipartisan? To me that is a miserable standard for diversity, just as balance is a bad guarantor of truth. I prefer multiple perspectives to “bi” ones. If “bipartisan” means “no party line to hold up,” then, yes, I’m strongly for that. If a single perspective were to prevail at OffTheBus that would definitely suck. It would be bad service. I agree with Tim that independence, decentralization, and diversity are key to making the mix of bloggers work.

Extra: Ruffini agrees wuth Exley. Don’t hire an internet person.

Howard Kurtz says it sounds like fun. “Fresh voices, undoubtedly many young voices, without the blinders of being tied to a big media institution or suffocating inside the campaign bubble. It could be a welcome breeze in a field notorious for so much hot air.” But…

An effort run by two people who worked for Democratic presidential candidates? Wouldn’t this cause GOP candidates to think that Off the Bus is going to throw them under the bus?

I will take this Bus ride with interest and stand ready to be proven wrong.

News flash for those who know the blog and the writing: Digby is a girl!

After ten years of authorship and activism about copyright insanity and the Creative Commons solution, Larry Lessig hangs it up. His new beat: political corruption. This is someone I respect and admire a great deal, and more so after his decision to execute this turn in his studies. (About corruption: “I am beginner.”) My favorite lines in his farewell, copyright post. “I am 99.9% confident that the problem I turn to will continue exist when this 10 year term is over. But the certainty of failure is sometimes a reason to try.”

From the Official Announcement: When fully launched, the site will feature:

  • an open platform design (similar to Daily Kos, TPM Café, or that permits anyone to have an OffTheBus blog who signs up and fills out a profile requiring some disclosure;
  • a blogging platform that starts simple and improves by a build-to-demand method as users try to do more with it;
  • an intelligent filtering system to promote the strongest material to the front page and feature new talent;
  • candidate-specific pages and RSS feeds that offer news and commentary on a single campaign;
  • original beat blogging across candidates and about candidates;
  • distributed reporting projects requiring the quick and timely help of volunteers already signed up with the site;
  • collaboration with The Huffington Post’s political news operation overseen by political editor Thomas Edsall.

Posted by Jay Rosen at June 19, 2007 11:59 AM   Print


Zack Exley?! That is an inspired choice.
(sample: An Organizer’s Guide to Trusting the People)

Posted by: Anna at June 19, 2007 12:28 PM | Permalink

Jay, I want to ask this question evenhandedly, but in way that highlights what will surely be general concerns: What are your thoughts about how it looks to hire two liberal Democratic political operatives to run a journalism project?

Posted by: Howard Weaver at June 19, 2007 2:39 PM | Permalink

P.S. I should have added: I for one welcome your approach, since I figure it lets you guys explore this territory and the rest of us can learn from your experience ...

Posted by: Howard Weaver at June 19, 2007 2:41 PM | Permalink

(and that is an inspired question)

Posted by: Anna at June 19, 2007 3:12 PM | Permalink

Thanks, Howard. Good question which I was certain would come up.

First I am more concerned with how it works than how it looks. If it works--let's say if OffTheBus broke some big stories about the campaign--then how it looks will become irrelevant. On the other hand if OffTheBus doesn't work, but the journalistic bona fides of the people running it are top shelf, what have I gained?

Second, I wanted experienced people because this kind of work is way harder than it seems. I tried to find people with solid journalistic backgrounds who have experience organizing volunteers horizontally on the Net, but I couldn't. Do you know of any?

In fact, there aren't too many people who have that kind of experience at all, and most of them work in politics. I tried taking people with solid journalistic backgrounds and asking them to adapt to open platforms and that didn't go too well, either. By the way the Dems are way ahead of the Reps when it comes to organizing people online.

I said they are organizers, you say they are operatives. :)

A third answer I would have is that if, in a public forum like at your average "afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted" J-school, someone were to say that what OffTheBus is doing isn't journalism, "new media" maybe but not journalism, because there are no journalists in charge... I would probably pause for a second and say, "I'll take it. You're journalism, we're new media." And I would add then when it comes to afflicting the comfortable and comforting the affilcted, Zack Exley has Newsroom Joe beat by a lot.

Four: One of the things I like about this project is the simple metrics. If I want to know how OffTheBus is doing it's going to be real easy. I just go to OffTheBus.Net and look at that page. If I see there fresh, arresting, original, informational reporting and commentary on the 08 election, and it is different kind of coverage than the boys on the bus have always produced, then I am not going to be alarmed very much if I how I got there didn't wind through J-school or city room.

Fifth. Do we want to say that people representing a portion of the political community cannot produce news and information for the entire political community? I wouldn't want to say that in advance, although I might conclude it after the experiment.

In a practical vein, once I had the Huffington Post as a partner with its reputation the only way to offset that for purposes of reputation would be to bring in an equally large red state partner like or National Review. We considered that. In the end we concluded that we would also have to split decision-making evenly and that the chances of that structure being nimble enough to improvise and turn on the fly, as one must in this practice area, were virtually nil.

Were we wrong? Possibly. I have been wrong about a lot since starting NewAssignment.Net.

"I figure it lets you guys explore this territory and the rest of us can learn from your experience..." That is precisely the point of starting NewAssignment.Net.


Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 20, 2007 12:58 AM | Permalink

Also, H., here is an old PressThink post that might interest you. It's about a McClatchy paper and election news and a lot else.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 20, 2007 1:03 AM | Permalink

I'm curious as to whethr you approahced Huff Post first or the other way around? If the latter, what affected your decision not to pursue a "red" partner? If the former, why did you decide to go forward unilaterally? Could you have approached a "red" simultaneously?

Posted by: Ferdy at June 20, 2007 11:18 AM | Permalink

They approached me. I suppose I could have approached a site like right away, yes. But I didn't.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 20, 2007 11:35 AM | Permalink

UPDATE: Patrick Ruffini joins the conversation and thanks for the link Jay!

Posted by: Tim at June 20, 2007 7:55 PM | Permalink

I'm curious as to whethr you approahced Huff Post first or the other way around? If the latter, what affected your decision not to pursue a "red" partner? If the former, why did you decide to go forward unilaterally? Could you have approached a "red" simultaneously?

One very large problem would be finding a "red" partner of significance with the intellectual capacity to understand what it is that Jay and Ariana are trying to do. The right thinks that the problem with the mainstream media is (the mythical) "liberal bias" -- and would see its mission as providing "balance".

But (it seems to me) that Off The Bus is really about political reporting that ignores/transcends the "established narrative" approach that dominates mainstream coverage. OTB isn't looking for "balance", but an entirely new perspective on the campaign.

I have my personal doubts about how well OTB will work -- objectivity is not exactly the blogosphere's strongest suit, the "candidate-centric" nature of OTB means we will still be hearing far more about places like Iowa and New Hampshire than 98% of the country needs to hear about, and above all -- the quality of the writing in the blogosphere is, to be kind, uneven, and the lack of high quality prose is likely to be a problem for OTB. (what makes the most prominent blogs popular isn't the ideas expressed --you can find those same ideas expressed far less elegantly in any comments sections-- but the quality of the writing.)

The intriguing thing to me is that we will (one hopes) be seeing multiple perspectives of the same campaign event -- Rashomon on the campaign trail, if you will. Whether these differing perspectives will yield useful information, or merely lead to confusion (and/or arguments) remains to be seen.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 21, 2007 8:23 AM | Permalink

While I think your characterization of the "red" press is condescending--the "left" doesn't even get it for the most part--I have to say that anyone who still uses the term "Rashomon" correctly is aok with me.

I agree the writing is a problem, but I hope there will be editors among the top-tier journalists who will be feeding information to the main page. It they do more than excerpt, that is, actually copyedit, it can work. That's one part of publishing that shouldn't go away.

Objectivity is a harder problem. With what appears from the outset to be a liberal bias, it may be hard to convince some in the MSM and policymakers that the information truly is fact-based. It is also important to build some fact-checking in to ensure that bias in the bloggers is not allowed to twist the facts. Finally, editing the main section will also have to be carefully managed to avoid the traps of establishing a new norm or narrative.

Posted by: Ferdy at June 21, 2007 10:10 AM | Permalink

"While I think your characterization of the "red" press is condescending--the "left" doesn't even get it for the most part--"

I was talking about the blogosphere, not the press. And while the liberal blogosphere sees the press as "too conservative", it sees that as a result of structural problems with the mainstream media (as opposed to the right wing bloggers perception that "liberal bias" is based on the ideology of journalists.) And insofar as OTB is an attempt to create a new structure for campaign reporting, a "liberal" partner like Ariana is more likely to allow the focus in this experiment to be placed on creating a new (and credible) structure, while a conservative blogger would be insisting that "balance" be a priority. (At least, this is my interpretation of Jay's statement that the chances of OTB being "nimble" enough to make changes "on the fly" would be close to zero if decision-making was shared equally with a conservative blogger.)

With what appears from the outset to be a liberal bias, it may be hard to convince some in the MSM and policymakers that the information truly is fact-based. It is also important to build some fact-checking in to ensure that bias in the bloggers is not allowed to twist the facts.

I don't think that OTB is designed to be a "feeder system" for the corporate media -- more of an alternative to it. (Of course, its also likely to be a catalyst for even more corporate media criticism, too.) And I suspect that it will be (overall) pretty reliable, thanks to the self-correcting nature of the liberal blogs.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 21, 2007 1:13 PM | Permalink

> "Tim Schmoyer thinks we blew it: OffTheBus Already on the Wrong Track. “Sounds like the intellectual diversity of a typical newsroom already, doesn’t it? In fact, I’d argue the decisions made by Jay and Arianna have limited the organizing outreach of OffTheBus.”

Hey Tim, why don't you sign up and get involved with this project? (I didn't see you over at the Earmarks Project or in Assignment Zero - and hearing your perspective on one of these projects as a participant, not just an armchair critic, would be most worthwhile.)

Posted by: Anna at June 21, 2007 1:44 PM | Permalink

What exactly do you mean by "self-correcting" nature of the liberal blogs?

Posted by: Ferdy at June 21, 2007 2:20 PM | Permalink

Wasn't my phrase but it could mean something like this. As an example.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 21, 2007 3:02 PM | Permalink

Yes, I see. I have to wonder, however, if this "self-correcting" is all that nimble either. I would see it as a greater mission not only to erase the frames in which elections are currently drawn but to try to be inclusive of skeptics on both sides of the political divide. If a right-leaning blog were included in the discussion, stories about Rove's indictment, for example, would be more vigorously pursued and debunked, rather than have the information go out there, self-correct and then be fodder for right-leaning bias to jump all over to return coverage to their chosen frame.

Posted by: Ferdy at June 21, 2007 3:19 PM | Permalink


I'm sure you can find any number of projects on the Internet where I'm NOT a participant. I do find your choices interesting, tho'.

I tried to bring the earmarks database to PressThink's attention in July 2006. More than a month later, Jay says he never heard of it until he read it on blogs. Oh, well.

Was I ever an "armchair critic" of the earmarks database? Nope. Was I a participant? Nope.

After AssignmentZero and NewAssignment opened for business, I went and looked for topics where I thought I could offer a worthwhile perspective. I commented on posts by John McQuaid and Tom Evslin. Bumpkis. No feedback from the authors or anyone else at NewAssignment.

I tried again in March on WECAN and The Changing Role of Experts. Again, zip, zero, nada feedback.

Now, I'm NOT (do you hear me, NOT) criticizing anyone (or whining) because my comments didn't get any feedback. I find that a perfectly reasonable outcome. However, since I was never engaged in conversation I found no reason to participate further. That also seems to me a perfectly reasonable outcome.

I do, however, consider your accusation of "armchair critic" and non-participant uninformed.

Posted by: Tim at June 21, 2007 5:40 PM | Permalink

Jay there's a comment in the queue. I'd like to add that despite my personal experience, I did provide feedback to Jay here concerning what I thought was fixable and praising Lauren Sandler for her efforts.

Posted by: Tim at June 21, 2007 5:45 PM | Permalink

Let me be clear about a few things.

I think a diverse, yeasty, self-correcting mix is necessary for this thing to work. Ideological mix is one, but only one factor. Regional reach is just as important. How important is it to have bloggers who just turned 18 and are voting for the first time and bloggers who are 65? Very important.

You can do this idea--strength-in-numbers, open platform blogging corps as campaign press corrective--by straddling the red blue divide and planting one big foot in one camp and another big foot in the other. That sort of structure could work. It could also flop or devolve into culture war theater.

I didn't think that was necessarily the right way of starting, or that it would necessarily lead to the best product. I figured there had to be other ways of getting the right mix. Without question it is going to take recruiting, and real effort at being inclusive.

A different idea from the twin towers, one red, one blue, is just to find an influential and talented person with conservative contacts and credibility on the "red" map and work with that person. It's a plausible approach. And this is something we may well do. It will have to be someone Zack and Amanda find and want as part of their team.

Meanwhile, Tech President today is saying, "It seems clear that the creators of the project need to reach out to Republican voters and influentials as much as possible in order to ensure balance with the project."

Balance? I'm not sure that captures it.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 21, 2007 7:21 PM | Permalink

Jay, I'm not sure "balance" is the right word, it seems to me that what people may be concerned with the project being not only fair but welcoming to ...well... non-liberals...

If you think this is something you really *can* offer, it would be great! (but definitely not easy...)

If this is not something you can do (or would care to do), I think it would be much better (and clearer for all) to just limit it to those of liberal persuasion... and maybe suggest that the project is "mirrored" by some conservative initiative... and a separate independent one, why not?


P.S. re: "This is someone I respect and admire a great deal, and more so after his decision to execute this turn in his studies."

I didn't know what to make of this (it seems a bit odd, to me... I mean, *adding* a new interest would be one thing but out of the blue deciding he is just not going to do any more of his extreme fair use thing etc... begs the question "why?" -- I think Lessig may well have very serious reasons that he is just not disclosing...). D.

Posted by: Delia at June 21, 2007 10:16 PM | Permalink


Now that sounds like fun. Fresh voices, undoubtedly many young voices, without the blinders of being tied to a big media institution or suffocating inside the campaign bubble. It could be a welcome breeze in a field notorious for so much hot air.

So who's heading the project? Amanda Michel, who worked for Howard Dean's campaign and the fall ticket of Kerry-Edwards, and Zack Exley, who was director of online communications for John Kerry's campaign.

Uh--isn't that a bit of a tilt? An effort run by two people who worked for Democratic presidential candidates? Wouldn't this cause GOP candidates to think that Off the Bus is going to throw them under the bus?

I will take this Bus ride with interest and stand ready to be proven wrong.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 21, 2007 10:32 PM | Permalink

I think Lessig may well have very serious reasons that he is just not disclosing...

I think he has very serious reasons and he is disclosing. He spent ten years on a problem, reforming copyright law, and finally came to the conclusion that it was the wrong problem. Meaning copyright law is never going to be reformed because the system creating and extending it is a corrupt system. If the insanity of the law is a desired outcome of those who have hold of the lawmaking process, then campaigning for a sane copyright policy eventually becomes absurd.

I have heard Lessig say many times, "I've lost every fight I've cared about" in changing the law. After a while this forces you back, in fact way back in the thinking that led you to undertake those fights: what did I miss?

Now we know his answer: corruption. It is not discontinuous with his Internet studies. It is the very serious conclusion he came to after those sudies, and by losing again and again.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 21, 2007 11:03 PM | Permalink

Tim, revisiting your remarks above...

> "I tried to bring the earmarks database to PressThink's attention in July 2006. More than a month later, Jay says he never heard of it until he read it on blogs."

Look back at that (7/06) comment - it follows a pattern, bestowing an outside link with minimal, cryptic explanation ("An online data base would monitor spending by Congress","the plan"? There's no mention of earmarks), assuming readers will bestir themselves to click on the link to find out what it's really about. IMO to expect readers to check such a link out is arrogant and reader-unfriendly; as a result, I - and apparently others - typically ignore such comments.

> "since I was never engaged in conversation [at Assignment Zero] I found no reason to participate further. That also seems to me a perfectly reasonable outcome."

Tim I checked the comments you'd linked to - most had zilch to do with the Assignment Zero topic(about covering crowdsourcing, or about A.Z.), and the only ones that were on the topic were suggestions for things that "somebody else" should do.

What could you do?

All of us blogger-commenters need to spend time out of that armchair getting our hands dirty - it can do us a world of good. There's more to life than arguing, opining, and telling others what they should do.

(and fyi, i am not a peerless instantiation of the opposite pole, so perhaps it does take one to know one...)

(note to the host: if this comment is too far out of bounds - it's derailing a thread which is otherwise admirably on topic - please feel free to delete it)

Posted by: Anna at June 21, 2007 11:03 PM | Permalink

oh, Jay... you don't *really* believe Lessig's stuff, do you? -- I mean, it's so way out there I don't see how he, or anybody else, thought there was ever any real chance it was going to become the law -- and thank God it didn't! it would have made terrible law -- (interesting intellectual arguments if you are tolerant to the extreme... and I am not...; he may have much better luck with things like science fiction)


P.S. alright! looks like another thing we disagree on...

P.P.S. it's already past midnight, I gotta go to bed... good night, all! D.

Posted by: Delia at June 22, 2007 12:07 AM | Permalink


A link, brief quote and snappy sentence = arrogance.

Noted. Not, mind you, a comment style that Jay recommends here. Not a way to avoid getting in front of bulldozers. Not:

at PressThink, a link is not an endorsement. Period. A link means: "check this out, you may find it interesting." Or it means: "if you're following this as closely as I am, then go here." Or: "For a rounder view, try..."
[For the record: thanks, Dan.]

re: "zilch to do with the Assignment Zero"

That explains it then, doesn't it?

Posted by: Tim at June 22, 2007 12:09 AM | Permalink

Looks like another thing we disagree on...

Absolutely we do. I think you are quite wrong and being cavalier. And I don't think you understand how academics work. The law is terrible now-- idiotic, in fact.

From The Cycle (PR Week blog). Hamilton Nolan releases my email responses to his questions:

Rosen (winner of my personal award for "Most complete answer provider to any question";) on what sets the new site apart:

One difference: political writing when you are a lone blogger is different from political writing when you are part of a blogging network or community of writers all working under the same “sign” or brand– OffTheBus. I hope we can give our bloggers better and better tools for doing better a better and better job, so that when you log in to OffTheBus back end you should see before you an array of news feeds, backstage forums, editors suggestions and tips coming from the network, and other juicy things to blog about. That’s a big difference from the proverbial blank sheet of paper and “what should I write about today…?”

The other answer is that OffTheBus is not just a bunch of bloggers; it has a second side. It will also do “distributed” reporting projects that require the participation of lots of people under the “many hands make light work” principle. Let’s suppose we wanted to comb through disclosure forms and can’t pay three reporters to spend a week doing it. By mobilizing hundreds of OffTheBus members who’ve signed up with us to get alerts about just this sort of thing, we can pull off large reporting projects that might be impossible for individual reporters.

Rosen on what he hopes to accomplish:

I stay away from predictions of change or projections about having dramatic effects. I think you have to succeed first, and there’s no way of knowing if we will succeed. So I am not thinking about transforming this or that, but rather providing a compelling and useful alternative to “on the bus” or horse race coverage.

What I hope to accomplish is, first of all, to create an exciting absorbing and different page of campaign news at OffTheBus.Net. If you look at it and it doesn’t look like your grandfather’s political news, then we are succeeding.

So my overriding goal is simply to demonstrate that there are other ways of doing it. That election season doesn’t have to mean news coverage that is so ritualized, formulaic and boring. That lots of people, far outside the usual circles, have quality contributions to make to the discussion season that should accompany the election. That “distributed” methods for collecting information can work and you can break stories or find original insights that way.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 22, 2007 12:25 AM | Permalink

Uh--isn't that a bit of a tilt? An effort run by two people who worked for Democratic presidential candidates? Wouldn't this cause GOP candidates to think that Off the Bus is going to throw them under the bus?

um, given that Kurtz is married to a GOP political operative (Sheri Annis) shouldn't everything he writes be considered "a bit of a tilt"?

Kurtz apparently still hasn't figured out the rather obvious fact that Democrats were WAY ahead of the GOP in developing and exploiting the potential of the "people resources" of web in general and the blogosphere in particular --- and its among people connected to Democratic campaigns that one is most likely to find the expertise and creativity necessary for such a project.

And so what if OTB winds up having a "liberal" tilt, if it works? If it works -- if it provides useful information and new perspectives on the candidates and their campaigns, OTB will provide the template for conservatives to do the same (although doubtless without the effort to achieve intellectual integrity that OTB will have. A conservative version of OTB will likely be "astroturf" to OTBs "grassroots" approach, if history is a reliable guide.)

I'm personally far more concerned with the potential for intra-party squabbling to create problems for OTB.... this is already happening all over the progressive blogosphere (egged on, apparently, by GOP trolls) -- and its likely to get worse as more and more democrats make a firm choice for whom they want to see as the nominee.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 22, 2007 9:15 AM | Permalink

I'm just saying that it is hard to overcome one's personal biases--about which one may not be totally aware at time--when viewing information. We all do a fair amount of editing of information we get to conform to our views. It's hard to take in stuff that doesn't agree, or even understand it. I've seen even the most intelligent scholars show their blind spots. It is very important to have diversity not only of demographics but of political views to help sift through the information--it is particularly important when covering elections, which are very much about divergent ideologies.

I'm often told that the reason people don't participate is that they weren't asked. I personally voted for a candidate who not only represented my views but also asked for my vote. Maybe it's time to send out more invitations.


All of us blogger-commenters need to spend time out of that armchair getting our hands dirty - it can do us a world of good. There's more to life than arguing, opining, and telling others what they should do.

Amen! I'm planning to answer that call, kiddo. Comment boards aren't enough for me anymore.

Posted by: Ferdy at June 22, 2007 10:33 AM | Permalink

re:"And I don't think you understand how academics work."

Well... I certainly don't understand academics a la Lessig (or any "academic based" advocacy group). I don't think anybody *should* understand it... that's not academics, that's lobbying!


P.S. If you think the law is terrible *now* -- you should have seen just how much MORE terrible it could have been if Lessig's ideas prevailed; I've already said, I think we are much better off that *didn't* happen... D.

P.P.S. Sorry if he's a personal friend or something...

Posted by: Delia at June 22, 2007 10:35 AM | Permalink

I don't think anybody *should* understand it... that's not academics, that's lobbying!

You sound like a commissar. Scary. And your use of the term lobbying is completely inapt.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 22, 2007 10:56 AM | Permalink

s/it can do us a world of good/it can do a world of good/

(upon reflection, there's no reason to limit the beneficiaries)

and re Ferdy's
> "Amen! I'm planning to answer that call"

I confess I'd intended to sit this one out, but what with Mr. Exley's coming on board, and the distributed reporting aspects, and Ferdy's excellent example, I'll be coming too.

Tim, care to join us?

Posted by: anna at June 22, 2007 1:51 PM | Permalink

Are you kidding? I would love to have Tim as an OffTheBus correspondent specializing in which candidates are credible, semi-credible and which are incredible in their stands & plans, ideas and story lines for resolution in Iraq from the professional military's and eagle eye blogger's point of view. Now that's a great beat. I think I'd call it... Half Baked, Fully Loaded.

The part of the model where I expect to be the most involved is the development of beat blogging. I have a lot of ambitions for this side of OffTheBus. I think it has potential. So someone like Tim--experienced, connected, expert in some areas, knows experts in others--developing a beat would have two benefits: the posts themselves and the early example of how to do one of these things, an OffTheBus cross-candidate beat with a lot of know-how added in and no party line.

I don't like bipartisan as the essential discipline or starting point but I do like "no party line."

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 22, 2007 2:49 PM | Permalink

Juat signed up. I do have some healthcare finance background. I sure would have wanted to be at this when Barack Obama announced his revolutionary (not) plan to cover the uninsured. It was total B.S.

Posted by: Ferdy at June 22, 2007 3:26 PM | Permalink


re: I don't think anybody *should* understand it... that's not academics, that's lobbying!

You sound like a commissar. Scary."

huh? I think you missed the context: it was simply a way of saying the what Lessig and organizations such as the Berkman Center, for instance, do is just NOT academics... and, yeah, it's NOT *conventional* lobbying either... it's lobbying the academia! (something that shouldn't be allowed...)


P.S. and yes, that's *my view* on the topic, of course, and by the looks of your responses I can see a lot of merit in dropping it... (unless, of course, you can show that having "academic based" *advocacy groups* does NOT result in lobbying the academia or that lobbying the academia is in itself quite ok... I'd be listening... ) D.

Posted by: Delia at June 22, 2007 3:46 PM | Permalink

The part of the model where I expect to be the most involved is the development of beat blogging. I have a lot of ambitions for this side of OffTheBus. I think it has potential.

Will there be a snark beat? If so, I'm in! :)

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 22, 2007 4:39 PM | Permalink

Jay, (you may not have intended it that way but) it certainly appears that Tim has been less welcomed(I mean, if he's had different opinions, he's always been gentle about it -- unlike me..., I'm afraid:) --; yet I always seem to get answers from you and my comments appear to post instantaneously...) : this is what I meant when I said make sure you *can* make EVERYONE feel just as welcomed as the next person... otherwise, make it clear to people that's not a realistic expectation so they can make up their mind whether they still want to participate D.

Posted by: Delia at June 22, 2007 11:10 PM | Permalink

Tim's posts get caught in the spam filter; I don't know why. I've been asking my webmaster to fix it and it has gotten better, but I don't know why the latest one got caught. When he tells me about them I find them and post them.

Your comments on whether Lessig and the Berkman Center should be "allowed" to push for policies you think unwise would be more appropriate coming from an Iranian Mullah. The notion that an American law professor isn't allowed to rabble rouse for a change in legal thinking is... odd. In the United States, I mean. In Iran, normal.

Paul: I think you would make a great OffTheBus correspondent, and I urge you to join up.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

Over the coming weeks and months we're going to be lining up interviews with the presidential candidates that will run on TPMtv. We're already talking to several of them. And we want you to be part of it.

Specifically, we want your questions.

So if you've got a question for Hillary or Obama or Edwards or Richardson or any of the rest, send us an email with the text of the question to our comments address with the subject heading "TPMtv Question: [Candidate's name]". We'll save them up for when we do the interview.

Of course, we can only pose the question if the specific candidate agrees to sit down with us for an interview. But I'm optimistic we'll be able to schedule most of them. And if we choose your question we'll credit you by name or you can remain anonymous. Your choice.

It will be interesting to see whether they get any Republican candidates.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 23, 2007 10:13 AM | Permalink


I think you are missing the point, entirely... anybody should be allowed "to push" for whatever policy they want (however unwise, Lessig NOT excepted...).

They should just be honest as to what they are really doing... (don't call it academics and don't do it in an academic setting if the outcome of your "academic inquiry" is set from the outgo... I don't see how that could possibly qualify as academics...)

The big problem I see with "academic based" advocacy groups (Dan Gillmor's term), such as the Berkman Center -- Lessig had the original endowed professorship, if I remember right -- is that they result in a perversion of academia and a perversion of true scholarship (they are just impervious to opposite points of view, as far from academic principles as you can get...).


P.S. Just look at what has been the Center's effect on academic freedom at Harvard, for instance? Marginalizing people like Arthur Miller... who certainly deserves a prominent place at the discussion table when it comes to Internet and Society ...

A true academic group would have *equally* welcomed both Lessig AND Miller... and be glad to have them BOTH... and there would have been no advocacy going on (the two very different views would have been presented as valid alternatives)D.

Posted by: Delia at June 23, 2007 12:00 PM | Permalink

I'm definitely missing the point, yes. I don't know what it is or where it is. But your notion of academic freedom needs a lot of work.

This is from the Los Angeles Times. I would hope OffTheBus could do a lot better, and maybe even declare who's ahead:

Healthcare: where the candidates stand

Most 2008 presidential candidates address healthcare on their websites, but the amount of detail varies considerably. Here's some basic information from the sites of candidates — and potential candidates.


Joe Biden

Would "expand health insurance for children and relieve families and businesses of the burden of expensive catastrophic cases."

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Says "America is ready for universal health care."

Chris Dodd

Would "ensure universal affordable quality coverage by creating a Health Care General Fund (HCGF) to serve all Americans. Then, require employers to either cover their employees or contribute to the fund."

John Edwards

Offers a detailed plan for "universal health care through shared responsibility."

Mike Gravel

Advocates "a universal health-care voucher program in which the federal government would issue annual health care vouchers to Americans based on their projected needs."

Dennis Kucinich

Supports "a plan for a universal single payer, not for profit healthcare system."

Barack Obama

Gives a plan for "providing affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for every American" and "modernizing the U.S. health care system."

Bill Richardson

Would "open up existing sources of affordable, portable coverage to more Americans."


Sam Brownback

Advocates "increased consumer choice, consumer control and real competition."

Jim Gilmore

Healthcare isn't listed on "The Issues" portion of his site.

Rudy Giuliani

Healthcare isn't listed on the "On the Issues" portion of his site.

Mike Huckabee

The site doesn't have an "issues" component.

Duncan Hunter

Doesn't list healthcare under "Issues."

John McCain

Doesn't list healthcare under "On the Issues."

Ron Paul

Doesn't list healthcare under "Issues."

Mitt Romney

Recommends "extending health insurance to all Americans, not through a government program or new taxes, but through market reforms."

Tom Tancredo

Says "tort reform and immigration enforcement would save the system billions."

Tommy Thompson

Would place "the uninsured in state-by-state insurable pools, allowing private insurers to bid on their coverage."

Hilarious that the LA Times can't come out and say that Republican candidates are obviously a lot less likely to say anything about health care.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 23, 2007 12:26 PM | Permalink

Delia: I've figured out that my comments get queued based on the number of links in the comment. One link, no problem. Three or more links and it gets caught in the spam filter. I know to expect that now and adjust accordingly.

I also chuckled a bit that you wrote, "if he's had different opinions, he's always been gentle about it". That hasn't always been true and I'm sure not everyone would agree.

I have learned that if you want to communicate effectively on blogs with people that have a different perspective than you, you really have to pay attention to what the other person wants to hear and how he wants to hear it. You also have to be able to let "it" go, whatever "it" is. Otherwise, you get pigeonholed in culture war theater.

I think this is an important skill to learn (and teach) in our changing noetic field where conversation is valued over lecture, is conducted by electronic communication and conversation cross-perspective is more difficult (and valuable) than "perspective-reinforcing" conversation. Perspective-reinforcing conversation is important for organizing and associating, as is our First Amendment right, but also comes naturally.

Anyway, any "gentleness" you perceive in my comments has come about from mentoring by Jay and Stephen Waters.

Posted by: Tim at June 23, 2007 12:45 PM | Permalink

Jay, I hope you *are* indeed missing the point (and it's not something much more sinister going on...) -- Seth sort of warned me that I walked into a Kool-Aid-drinking-cult and shouldn't expect normal reasoning... at the time I though he was just funny but I'm not so sure any more...


P.S. anyways, I gotta go... good luck with your project! D.

Posted by: Delia at June 23, 2007 12:48 PM | Permalink

I "fact-checked" the first Rep on the list:

Rudy Giuliani

Healthcare isn't listed on the "On the Issues" portion of his site.

Actually, it is listed but only fiscal discipline has additional info online.

Might have been more informative to say he only has one of the 12 linked to greater detail online.

Posted by: Tim at June 23, 2007 2:56 PM | Permalink

Whoops, Giuliani's not the first on the list. Brownback is (has something), then Gilmore (has nothing).

Posted by: Tim at June 23, 2007 3:14 PM | Permalink

Huckabee: Health Care

What am I learning here about the LAT?

Posted by: Tim at June 23, 2007 4:02 PM | Permalink

I take it back. Comment with one link just got caught in the cache, so there must also be a time component.

Posted by: Tim at June 23, 2007 4:03 PM | Permalink

[Trying a repost]

Huckabee: Health Care

What am I learning about the LAT?

Posted by: Tim at June 23, 2007 6:46 PM | Permalink

Jay, If you were meaning to prompt me to do a little more digging on the healthcare issue, you've succeeded. It will take a bit of time, but I think I can do better. I'll keep you posted.

Posted by: Ferdy at June 24, 2007 10:04 AM | Permalink

In addition to the link to Huckabee's Health Care web page, still stuck in the spam filter, is a video on YouTube.


Posted by: Tim at June 24, 2007 11:52 AM | Permalink Care:Gilmore

Posted by: Tim at June 24, 2007 12:58 PM | Permalink

It's working...!

I think one of the ways OffTheBus will end up working is sorta like this. We post something from Big Media or the campaign press that doesn't look right. Then we ask out network if it can do better.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 24, 2007 1:57 PM | Permalink


What about the LAT story didn't look right to you?

Were these assignments at AZ failures?

Interview the blogger behind Porkbusters
Red State Crowdsourcing in Political Journalism

Posted by: Tim at June 24, 2007 7:19 PM | Permalink

What about the LAT story didn't look right to you?

It was the chart. It looked thin.

Interview the blogger behind Porkbusters did not draw any volunteers, I believe.

Red State crowdsourcing I am not sure about.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 24, 2007 9:08 PM | Permalink

OK, thanks.

Is it too late to sign up and do the NZ Bear interview?

Posted by: Tim at June 24, 2007 10:14 PM | Permalink

Nope. I would love to have it. It may be too late to get it into the directory of interviews, which links to AZ urls, but it can be part of AZ and the directory at our domain. And we might be able to get it into directory too, I just can't promise.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 25, 2007 12:02 AM | Permalink

Marshall thinking on the fly....

I mentioned earlier that we're working on lining up interviews with the presidential candidates for TPMtv. And we've gotten a lot of great questions that you've sent in over the last few days. But I was having coffee with a friend this morning who proposed another idea -- not to supplant the traditional sit-down interviews but as an addition, and one that might play more to the strengths of the medium. He suggested we come up with specific questions for the candidates, tape them, and then invite the candidates to answer.

If you want them to answer the question, tell them. If they respond, we'll prominently broadcast their answer, unedited on TPMtv.

Sit-downs have a number of advantages -- follow-up being the most obvious, but also to gauge some of the candidates' ability to think on their feet, the ability to push them beyond the scripted and vetted answers. For these and other reasons we're still going to schedule these interviews. But there's something to be said too for putting a key question out there, giving them (and/or whoever else thinks on their behalf) time to come up with a considered answer and then go on the record. If it dodges the question or answers it only in platitudes I think that fact will speak for itself.

Tell us what you think and we'll try to refine the idea.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at June 25, 2007 4:43 PM | Permalink

Sorry this is off topic but we have devised a plan to put pressure on the press. They think we are not out here seething. Well, we are. Please check out my homepage to see what we are planning

Posted by: Janet at June 25, 2007 9:46 PM | Permalink

>"Please check out my homepage to see what we are planning"

...which is basically spamming the press, albeit with a heartfelt message. The consequence, if this sort of tactic works: say goodbye to public email addresses for journalists.

Tim, I was tempted by the NZBear interview too but had already bitten off way more than I could chew, was in danger of needing Dr. Heimlich's ministrations. If you talk to NZB could you please ask him, regarding the Earmarks project last summer:
Where besides Sunlight Foundation were any results of that project made public? (were there any other results? Is there any record on any other sites (besides Sunlight Foundation) of any citizen-journalist research into those earmarks? did NZBear do any research himself, or does he know of anyone on the right who did?)

And to back up a ways in this comments thread, and set the record straight (and be pedantic - sorry), Tim ironically interpretated what I said (I'd link to it, but comments no longer have permalinks???) as meaning that I thought that
> "A link, brief quote and snappy sentence = arrogance."

That's a misinterpretation. What's arrogant is to provide said info (with cryptic quote, not just brief), then characterize having done so as having tried to bring the news to the attention of readers; implying that any fault (in its not being taken up by the readers) lies with the readers.

Posted by: Anna at June 25, 2007 10:29 PM | Permalink

> "Tim ironically interpretated what I'd said (I'd link to it, but comments no longer have permalinks???)"

oops, sorry. (turns out that comments are only missing their permalinks on the Preview page)

Posted by: anna at June 25, 2007 10:34 PM | Permalink


On questions for NZ Bear and Porkbusters, keeep them coming. I think some answers are in the links below:

The Bear Strikes Back

Posted by: Tim at June 26, 2007 1:41 AM | Permalink

> "I think some answers are in the links below:"

Tim, with all due respect...these are prime examples of Tim-linkologism - tossing in some links saying in effect "you oughta go here".

I visited the links. At answering my questions, they were a waste. One went to the HHS earmarks database, which was just the Earmarks Project starting point for research. The other - out of ~25 paragraphs - had only 1/3 of a sentence that was relevant:

"a push we made on Health and Human Services earmarks, which frankly didn’t go all that far..."

And no, this didn't answer any of my questions - I asked specific questions, it does not provide a specific answer. When you thought your links would answer my Qs, you thought wrong, and granting you credibility caused me to waste my time.

(this may sound like making mtns of molehills, but the link-tossing is an M.O. that seems antisocial to me, and I wanted to lay out the concrete consequences in this instance.)

link-tosser's algorithm:
* If someone follows the link and finds that it's a dud, say "I just put it there in case you wanted to go there, I didn't guarantee anything"
* If no one follows it, but it turns out to have been to something worthwhile, say "I tried to bring it to your attention but no, you didn't read it did you."

btw, my Assignment Zero writeup on the Earmarks Project (among others) is in here.

Posted by: Anna at June 26, 2007 11:34 AM | Permalink

upon reflection I'm being too harsh on Tim in the previous comment, given that he didn't know what Earmarks Project knowledge I already had. The links he provided would have been good starting points for gathering info about the project.

Posted by: Anna at June 26, 2007 12:46 PM | Permalink

Anna, in fairness to Tim, on other boards posters complain when someone quotes at length from another source to which they could have been linked. I think this is a much different kind of board, however, one where lengthy posts will be read and appreciated. Tim, I hope you will consider that, too.

Posted by: Ferdy at June 26, 2007 12:55 PM | Permalink

> "on other boards posters complain when someone quotes at length..."

I would complain too. The ideal is to provide a link to relevant outside info, while conveying its significance adequately but concisely - sometimes in one's own words, other times with a brief quote.

IMO that ideal isn't being met here, and regularly isn't met.
(and yes, i am often a fellow sinner)

and re my "I'm being too harsh on Tim" comment above, I'm only backing off my criticism a little; after all, I had asked specific questions, and the linked-to pages didn't come close to answering the questions.

Posted by: Anna at June 26, 2007 1:59 PM | Permalink

I understand, Anna, and that is the ideal. I mean this as no personal criticism, but there is a bit of the English teacher in your directive that works in scholarship but not as well on a comments board. Many of us are posting as we can, not with the time to devote to in-depth explorations. If that's the best Tim can come up with, he should say so and not make you feel there was more than he provided. Snarking at each other is just a game that doesn't advance the discussion. For what it's worth...

Posted by: Ferdy at June 26, 2007 2:06 PM | Permalink

marginally on topic...

The Crowd Says "Stuff It"

The CIA has just released a bunch of formerly classified documents from around the early 70s on domestic spying and other issues. A Time reporter got Ana Marie Cox at Swampland to ask for a "crowdsourcing" effort on the docs, and the reaction was almost entirely negative -- mostly because the Swampland readership wonders why Time pays so little attention to the dozens of CURRENT scandals, but seems to think that 35 year old scandals are newsworthy....

Posted by: p.lukasiak at June 26, 2007 5:08 PM | Permalink

Thanks, Ferdy, but if Anna wants to spend her time at PressThink as my self-appointed comment editor ... well, it's her time to spend.

I'm quite used to other PressThink commenters telling me how I should or shouldn't comment at PressThink, what I can or cannot link to, and how any single comment proves that I should be dismissed out-of-hand.

I comment the way I do to avoid culture war theater and escalation at Jay's blog out of respect for Jay. Not to please Anna.

Posted by: Tim at June 26, 2007 6:13 PM | Permalink

Oh, and I've decided on some questions that I specifically won't be asking NZ Bear:

Where besides Sunlight Foundation were any results of that project made public? (were there any other results? Is there any record on any other sites (besides Sunlight Foundation) of any citizen-journalist research into those earmarks? did NZBear do any research himself, or does he know of anyone on the right who did?)
If you want answers to those questions, Anna, you find the time to ask them.

Posted by: Tim at June 26, 2007 8:03 PM | Permalink

> "If you want answers to those questions, Anna, you find the time to ask them."

ok, I did.
I'm bowing out of this comments thread, since it doesn't feel appropriate to engage in extended squabbling on PressThink turf. Just want to say though, Ferdy, that there are years of history here. You're still young and tolerant.

Posted by: Anna at June 27, 2007 2:34 PM | Permalink

From the Intro