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PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine
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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, 2008

Update on Six Months In

David Cohn is moving on to figure out if crowd funding can be made to work for news. Another young web-savvy journalist is moving in: Patrick Thornton. He's going "scour the Web for the people who are pushing the practice of beat reporting."

I have an update for you on, the project I announced six months ago in this post: These Beat Reporters Will Try the Social Network Way. (“Thirteen sites want to see if it works: from the Houston Chronicle to the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, PA, plus, MTV, the Seattle Times… Some of the beats: Child welfare, Dallas public schools, ‘green’ tech, Big Pharma, digital music, Procter & Gamble.”)

I said then that the project—which is part of NewAssignment.Net—offered a simple proposition: “Maybe a beat reporter could do a way better job if there was a ‘live’ social network connected to the beat, made up of people who know the territory the beat covers, and want the reporting on that beat to be better.” I felt the only way to find out was to try it for a year, with different beats in different locales and different editorial settings.

David Cohn—Digidave in the blogosphere—who as editor of has been steering the project, has gotten funding from the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge Fund for his own project, David will be trying the crowdfunding route to see if passage to a new business model for news can be found there.

It’s very much in the spirit of my original proposal for NewAssignment.Net in July 2006. It’s also the kind of thing DigiDave was meant to do, and I am excited to see if he can make it work. I hope PressThink readers will watch what he’s doing and help him out if you can. (Developers: he’s hiring.)

Replacing David Cohn at is Patrick Thornton, a young, born-on-the-Web journalist and blogger who has been working for the website of Stars and Stripes, while also commenting on new media and old journalism at his own site, and on Twitter, where he is quite active. (I have recently started up on Twitter myself: here’s my feed.)

Some of the original thirteen beat reporters are making progress; they’re setting up networks and figuring out how to use them. Some were blind-sided by contraction in the news business more severe than expected, and some have not done a helluva lot that’s new and different. (See this post for more.) Pat will be reporting on their progress at in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, David Cohn discovered that there were many other reporters out there who had beats and blogs and were starting to piece together a more networked approach. He began to profile them and their practices at the site.

Patrick is going to build on that discovery and “scour the World Wide Web for the people who are pushing the practice of beat reporting” by adapting it to where technology is today. (From his own announcement post.) We know who some of them are. We’re going to find the rest and follow them more closely than we were before. (If you’re one, let Pat know.) Then we’re going to pitch the best of what we find back to our original thirteen beat reporters, and to what I hope will be a growing constituency of wired journalists online.

In fact, see Ryan Sholin’s announcer: welcomes “After a round-robin series of conversations between Jay Rosen, David Cohn, Pat Thornton, and myself along with Howard Owens and Zac Echola, I’m happy to announce that and are joining forces to bring attention to the unsung beat reporters gathering their sources around the bonfire of a blog to better fulfill the mission of figuring out just how much more than us our sources know.”

They have 2,100 members already… “a huge pool of people doing innovative work, an increasingly international bunch… full of reporters that the mainstream media blogosphere (MMB?) hasn’t heard of.”

Finally, here’s video of me explaining to business journalists what we have learned so far from six key lessons.

Posted by Jay Rosen at June 19, 2008 12:42 AM   Print


I believe innovation is the key and would love to see how this project turns out. There was a city power outtage recently where I had no idea what was going on and because of twitter through my phone I was able to stay in the loop.....don't know if that's where this is going but creative news reporting is something people would be open to. (IMHO)

Posted by: Ines, Miami FL at June 25, 2008 10:54 PM | Permalink

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