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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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February 25, 2008

Cliff Notes Version of the Q and A with New York Times Readers About the McCain Investigation

Here is my condensed, re-aranged version of the Q and A with readers that ran in the New York Times Feb. 21. It was meant to explain the decision-making that went into its article on John McCain's involvement with lobbyist Vicki Iseman.

You can read theirs. Or try mine, which distills theirs down to the press think in it.

This is derived from the Q and A with readers that ran in the New York Times Feb. 21, intended to explain what led to this article from the day before, an explosive report on John McCain’s involvement with lobbyist Vicki Iseman. The paper said it had received more than 2,400 comments on the article and 4,000 questions from readers.

Were you surprised by the reactions?

Yes. We were prepared for the usual attacks. But dissatisfaction runs across the political spectrum; that really surprised us. Our story is about a contradiction in McCain’s character that came to a head in 2000 when his aides confronted him about Vicki Iseman. We think that’s something that voters in 2008 need to know about. A great many of our readers evidently disagree.

Did the times violate its standards on anonymity?

Not at all. We went by the book. Senior editors knew the identities of the sources for this story. We tried to get our sources to go on the record. We always do. We report around them, we also try to persuade them. In the end some refuse and we decide to trust them. But never blindly.

Why did the Times endorse McCain if it knew about this story?

You’re asking the wrong people. We’re from the newsroom. We don’t do editorials. We have nothing to do with endorsements. Separate department. They don’t coordinate with us, or we with them. Were they aware of our story? Yeah, probably they were aware. We actually have no idea why they endorsed McCain. Does that answer your question?

Weren’t you concerned for the woman’s privacy?

Very much so, we wrestle with that all the time. Look, it’s a story about a senator’s relationship with a lobbyist who had interests before his committee. We had to name the lobbyist! We ran the best photo of her we could find from a reputable agency.

Why drop a bombshell like “McCain may have had an affair with a lobbyist” into a story when you don’t know if it’s true?

Because the people who told us they believed it are people we decided to believe.

But why even include the stuff about McCain aides thinking “the relationship had become romantic” when the story could have run without it?

The aides told us a number of things concerned them about Iseman and McCain. Her ubiquity, what she was saying to others about access, the business her firm had before the Commerce committe, and their belief that a romance had begun. They took it seriously enough to confront their boss; we wanted to explain why. If, worried about spreading innuendo, we had edited out their belief in the romance, that would not be telling readers what we know. It would not be a complete and accurate reflection of what our sources told us. We can’t do that and remain the New York Times. We had to put it in.

The timing: Why now?

We publish stories when they’re ready. Period. No matter when we publish them people see dark motives.

What was McCain’s response when you told him what you were prepared to report?

McCain would not sit for an interview with our reporters. Concerned about the story, he called the Times to speak to Bill Keller. Keller asked him whether he had a romantic or sexual relationship with Iseman. He said he did not. His people spoke to Times reporters and provided some documents but not all we asked for.

Your defense of your story seems strangely passive. How can you allow yourself to be punching bags on TV and in the political sphere, but still convince the public that controversial stories have real merit?

Good question! We don’t really know. We don’t trust television to be anything more than spectacle. We don’t like becoming the story. But we also want to stick up for ourselves and the painstaking work that goes into these articles. We’re conflicted.

Has access to McCain or his campaign suffered in the aftermath of the story?


How can you cover the Republican side of the election when the presumptive nominee is crusading against the Times, and raising money off the fervor?

We’ll be fine. McCain will drop this soon. And his campaign people know that cutting off access to a newspaper as influential as The Times just limits their ability to get their message out.

Are you going to be as tough on the Democrats as you were on McCain in this story?

Yes, we will. We already have. (Links)

McCain’s lawyer gave you a list: a dozen times McCain sided against Iseman’s clients. Did you leave this out?

No, we checked into them. Some checked out. Some didn’t. One that did ran in the story. Some were too murky to tell where McCain stood. We would love to report more on this.

Any regrets about running the story?

None. Would do it again. It was an excellent story and we’re proud of it.

To comment, go here. Related post: Public Editor to Bill Keller: “You Haven’t Got it.”

Posted by Jay Rosen at February 25, 2008 1:01 AM   Print

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