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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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January 20, 2009

Write it Yourself: My Advice to Barack Obama

"Obama may have inaugurated a new style in press relations: not the warm embrace, or out in the cold. Neither feed the beast, nor win the week. I will just call it the cool style, and let others more learned in American cool unfold what it means for our president."

(I was on Bill Moyers Journal Feb. 6 discussing Obama and the establishment press; if you would like to comment, use the comment thread at this post. Watch it here.)

Your Government, my people, has returned to you. — Václav Havel, New Year’s Day Address in Prague, Jan. 1, 1990

I met Barack Obama once. It was in 2004, the day before he launched himself as a national figure with a keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention in Boston. I was in Boston as one of the 40 or so members of the stand alone commentariat—known then as The Bloggers—who were, for the first time, invited to cover the convention. We were a nice sidebar story, convention color with a trendy glow, so the DNC threw a breakfast for us on Monday of big week. The Bloggers: newest members of the message corps.

1. “I may be coming to you for advice.”

This is what I recall. (Here’s Dave Winer’s account, and another from Pacific Views and my own.)

Around the steam tables, word circulates that a special guest is dropping by, but nothing about who it is. We sit down to pancakes and assorted speakers, which included campaign reporting legend Wally Mears of the AP (familiar to readers of Boys on the Bus.) The doors in the back open. In sweeps Obama, with a small entourage that includes some reporters. At the time I know five facts about him: he is running for Senate in Illinois, he’s kicking ass in that race, he has a bright future, he’s black with a funny name, and he’s keynoting tomorrow night.

The DNC men are smiling as he glides to the microphone and makes a tidy “great to see you here” speech. About five minutes in, I can tell that he’s about to land this thing, step off the plane, wave to the bloggers and split from the hanger without getting dialogic. But this is not why the DNC invited The Bloggers and threw a breakfast for them with the AP watching. Obama: “We’re really glad the bloggers are here to get the word out. In fact, I may be coming to you for advice because I’m going to start blogging at my campaign website…”

I have advice for him. Cupping my hands to make a faux megaphone, I shout out to Barack Obama, “write it yourself!” Meaning: Don’t start a blog and make it an extension of the press release. You’d be worse off, with a lame blog and a blown start in the race to be smart online. Don’t start a Barack Obama blog at all unless you are willing to write it yourself. He heard me (and saw me) and chuckled. “When I find three hours of free time in my day, I will do that.”

Which was a diss. But a polite, smiley one; certainly I took no offense. Later on he did start writing blog posts himself— on Daily Kos, for example.

On Saturday, as he made his way by train to Washington for inauguration as our 44th president, that was still my advice: write it yourself. You don’t have to do things the way they have always been done. Turn the page, is the way Obama put it during the 2008 campaign. I like that image. But once you turn the page you have to write it yourself.

2. 1902: Bringing the press in from the cold

The one part of Obama’s impossible puzzle that I know something about is the presidency and the press chapter, in the longer and more strategic view. Here’s my 100-year sketch, adapted from an earlier post.

Theodore Roosevelt invited the press into the White House by ordering that a room be set aside for reporters to work in during renovations to the mansion that Obama will now occupy. In 1902 the work was completed: the press took up residence in the heart of the presidency and the nature of presidential power shifted. It was shifted by an insight Roosevelt had: that an emergent national media system would disrupt and reshape the political system to the presidency’s advantage if he learned to work within its logic. The needs of a national news narrative favored the president as the “big” character in that narrative.

As head of government, ceremonial chief of state, globe-striding national protagonist, the President would be able to project over the heads of other actors in the system, especially as “island communities” around the U.S. were hooked into the national story through mass circulation newspapers, the AP, the first nationally distributed magazines and improved communications in the broadest sense. What today we call “commanding the stage,” because we take for granted that there is a stage, was in 1902 an imaginative leap forward into new media space.

The incorporation of the press into presidential power actually began a few years earlier with McKinley, who first invited reporters into the White House and allowed them to hang out in a small room off the North Portico. Prior to that time they had taken to waiting in the street hoping to interview departing visitors. Congress was the nerve center of Washington then, and the more powerful branch. Its press gallery dates from 1841, 60 years before the White House supplied similar quarters.

The White House was more of a black box. You knew who went in. You knew what came out. Speeches revealed the political man; you covered those. A daily flow of White House news was not a routine occurrence. The briefing room with the presidential seal hadn’t been invented yet. Of course, the pipe endings it would later hook up with didn’t exist then.

It was McKinley who instituted regular White House briefings, but he kept his distance: reporters never met with the President and had to conduct interviews outside the building. He had gone half way with it. When Roosevelt took over after McKinley’s assassination the great embrace began. T.R. liked reporters. (His uncle was a newspaper editor; Lincoln Steffens, the muckraking journalist, was a friend.) He took them into his confidence, traveled with them in tow and encouraged them to report on the president through the medium of his outsized personality. His notion of the presidency as “bully pulpit” and his decision to invite the press into the White House were parts of the same program. Ever since then the presidency and the press have glamorized one another other.

3. Harder to see in, less necessary to reply

That lasted almost exactly 100 years. George W. Bush engineered a strategic shift, the press part of which I have called rollback. Sensing an institution in decline and uncomfortable with interlocutors of any type, Bush decided to return the press to where it stood with McKinley: half way out in the cold. With Vice President Cheney, a power center in his own right, the press was pushed almost all the way out. (Nobody really covered Cheney’s OVP.) Bush didn’t feel he could expel reporters from the executive mansion, which would have alerted the country—and the press—to something extreme going on.

Instead his Administration tried to innovate in other ways: It explicitly denied the whole theory of the “fourth estate,” ridiculed the idea that the press is part of the system of checks and balances in Washington, told reporters they were a special interest group rather than a conduit to the public-at-large, bragged about Bush skipping the morning paper, and welcomed the de-legitimizing of the news media by allies in the culture war.

The Bush team also ran a tight ship, stayed on message, and rarely leaked except in the “planned” sense. In Scott McClellan they installed a kind of stooge figure in the White House press room. They prosecuted reporters. They took secrecy to new dimensions of dark. “Back ‘em up, starve ‘em down and drive up their negatives” is one way I summarized it. De-certifying the press is another.

And yet these moves were only part of something more consequential. The rollback of the press, the reduction of its interlocutor’s role to the status of a farce, were two bullet points in the vast expansion of executive power authored by Dick Cheney with Bush’s backing. One aim of it was simply to make the government more opaque, the exercise of power more illegible. (On the model of the state trooper’s sunglasses: He can see out, we can’t see in.) The press policy followed from that.

I’m not sure what Obama’s press policy should be. But I know he has to reverse the opacity agenda, and make his own exercise of power more intelligible. He has to involve more people in the effort to hold government accountable, for the costs of doing so have been driven way down. The press is part of that picture, but he should feel free to re-draw it.

4. The establishing shot

How did Americans learn that Sarah Palin was not ready to be President in waiting? A big part of it was her answers to Katie Couric of CBS News. She ruined her own establishing shot. If failing to answer expected questions from a national figure in the press can establish you as not ready (one of many Palin indicators, to be sure) then flip it around. When you are obviously able to handle press questions—and dodge the ones you have to—this establishes a new president as already on top of it, comfortable in command. There’s power in that, and a kind of legitimacy too. Being challenged in your own house shows the world what kind of house it is. Not a black box, a lit headquarters with lines in.

5. Going direct

What is over? The idea of one interlocutor, the White House press corps, acting as our quasi-official watchdog, and an oligopoly of firms—Big Media—through whom news of the presidency flows. That’s over. The big firms are not done; they still have serious pipe going out to homes and bars. But their world is shifted. The White House can go direct—that’s what is—and people can go direct (in certain limited ways) to the White House. Control over the sphere of legitimate debate is more widely distributed. The presidency has never had a participation wing, but this seems to be under discussion. Who knows where that goes. Today, however, the White House started blogging.

Behold the communications operation at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is a broadcaster and media company in itself, with global reach and an unstoppable brand. The White House briefing room, where the press is informed and asks questions, is sacred space for projecting American power and explaining the president’s positions around the world. Making a farce of that space, as Bush did, is not in American interests. Recovering civil and truthful uses for it is.

6. The Cool Style.

Like Roosevelt, Obama assumes the presidency at a moment when its media logic is switching gears. Roosevelt responded by opening up the office to enlarge his pulpit and architect new political space. Bush drew the blinds and felt powerful for being closed to public inspection; also, he was miserable at public persuasion. Obama can’t imitate Roosevelt (different cusp) he can’t perpetuate Bush (a national tragedy) and he won’t go back to Gergen-style managerialism. We know this from his campaign, which didn’t necessarily try to win the news day or cater to press needs.

Obama may have inaugurated a new style in presidential press relations: not the warm embrace, or out in the cold. Neither feed the beast, nor win the week. I will just call it the cool style, and let others more learned in American cool unfold what it means for our president and his interlocutors. May they be many. May they be wise. What we should care about is not how many questions the press gets to ask at White House news conferences—a hapless metric—but how open to questions the Obama White House is in all the available ways: old, new and recovered.

There is no manual for handling the press after media migration, after the black box of Bush. He’ll just have to write it himself. And that is one reason I look forward to the presidency of Barack Obama, who is inaugurated today.

* * *

I often discuss Obama and the press—and provide links to new developments and insights on the subject—in my Twitter feed, which is sort of like PressThink-ing for the live web. (Example.) You can find my Twitter profile here.

Posted by Jay Rosen at January 20, 2009 5:00 AM   Print


Great article. Only feedback I have is do you have to use the word polymorphous?

Posted by: Hierohero at January 20, 2009 5:55 AM | Permalink

Hello Jay,

Sort of "know" you from Greenwalds blog (which is the only one I read more or less daily).

>> The White House was more a black box. You knew who went in. You knew what came out.

How would you describe the Bush White House? The Black Stone of Washington?? Or a Black Hole: Everything goes in, but nothing goes out?

As you can tell, I've nothing to comment on in your text, apart from a total approval. Sorry to be such a meek YES-sayer.


Posted by: Kanji Hanzi at January 20, 2009 5:59 AM | Permalink

Your commentaries, Jay, were among the early warning signs of the shift in Bush's presidential relationship to the press. Later, you acutely detailed how cravenly the "legitimate" media caved in, swept up in the martial enthusiasm of the admin's blind vision.

Mr. Obama's style is significant, but media will need to set a variety of tones and approaches. Bush ignored rational public discussion - we need to adjust to the idea that rationality is looking to make a comeback. A useful approach will honor the new admin, its opponents and the discursive sphere with informed critical intelligence.

Posted by: Tom Matrullo at January 20, 2009 8:26 AM | Permalink

Very enjoyable and informative article. I would be interested in your take on grading all the other presidents from Roosevelt on regarding how they embraced the media. I assume you'd give W. Bush a failing grade.

Posted by: Doreen Overstreet at January 20, 2009 10:07 AM | Permalink

So important not just in the press & democracy sense, but also as a larger emphasis that organizations and companies need to really understand and embrace.

Posted by: Tiffany Monhollon at January 20, 2009 10:31 AM | Permalink

re: 5. Going direct

IB: And they have found ways to simply by-pass the press.

JR: Yeah, I call this from Meet the Press, to Be the Press. I think there's a fundamental insight there that the White House has had which is that the media world has expanded and there aren't just a few channels, a few news organizations anymore. And White which is the web page for the White House is in a way a broadcasting platform. If the White House can communicate itself to the relevant audiences then why does it even need journalists in the first place. I think changes in the media system are not just in presidential politics but throughout the American scene are placing more power in the hands of news sources, in the hands of those who have inside knowledge, and they don't necessarily have to deal with journalists anymore. They can go public themselves.

So the WH has a lot of ways of, not just going around the press, but of placing it to one side. And maybe it will be replaced by something new or maybe it'll just disappear. And in that sense I think we have greater exec power that is more and more unquestioned. And that can't be good.
Can the public really be its own interlocutor? If the public "goes direct" with the government, and vice versa, is the interlocutor disintermediated?

Can we be each other's interlocutors?

Has the press diminished their role as interlocutor because the "professional journalist" began writing for other journalists and "professional" awards.

Posted by: Tim at January 20, 2009 10:38 PM | Permalink

The popuarlity of the WEB and BLOGS for news sources and commentary is increasing. It is not neccessarily a nightmare for the white house's PR, but creates new challenges. Getting a thought or idea to appear publicly acceptable isn't as easy as it used to be.

Posted by: Rob at January 21, 2009 2:47 PM | Permalink

CJR reviewed the debut of the new yesterday (the Obama White House site went online at a minute after noon on Jan. 20) and they mentioned this post.

As Jay Rosen pointed out in a Pressthink post yesterday, nothing is solid—or, really, sacred—when it comes to the relationship between the president and the press. That relationship is consistently in flux, and is often subject to the whims of the president himself in terms of how much—or how little—power the press will wield in the transaction.

Hmmm. Well, what I said is that the presidency and the press glamorized each other from Theodore Roosevelt right up through George W. Bush, and then Bush engineered a strategic shift, not that every president re-does the implicit contract. We had a fairly stable contract for a century despite ups and downs in the relationship. Obama does have to come through with his own idea, though. So there we are in accord.

But that's not the point of this post. The CJR article does what CJR feels it must do: play the cool, calm and wise adult to the info-age hysterics who instantly over-rate everything and forget their fundamentals. The pose is hype-busting, but the reality is that this kind of writing itself engages in hype, in this case the pumped-up impression that lots and lots of observers were praising to the skies and assuming that transparency is here because the site has a blog. That's CJR-authored hype. ((What I wrote on Twitter was: So far The Blog at is "press releases using blog software," exactly what I said not to do.)

Josh Young, a contributor to CJR (as I am) noticed this and complained about it. Which led me to add my comment, as well. I am putting it here because you cannot link to a comment at CJR.

Please stop beating up on the techno-utopian strawman. It's not that useful.

Maybe what Josh was referring to was the article's determination to establish that there are out there quite a few naive and simple-minded souls who think that talking about transparency is the same thing as doing something about it, and who instantly praised the new site as a kind of deliverance to a new age. To wit:

"Reaction to the new site has been... generally, glowing. Particularly so among media critics and transparency advocates,..."

(Really? The New York Times took a look and found the opposite: "Early reviews of the online administration are now coming in, and the site is being found wanting."

"...Such rosy-hued assessments of the day-old Web site..." (We get it, CJR: you're the skeptic, defined by contrast to those techno-utopians who instantly cheered.)

"...Celebrations of Obama’s inauguration—and the Web site that came with it—as ushering in a New Age of Transparency are premature at best..." (Right, right: because while CJR is aware that you have to wait and see what Obama actually does, a lot of media critics and transparency advocates never heard of this principle.)

The article says that " presents itself as a kind of social networking portal in which citizens can essentially 'friend' the government." Actually, that's wrong. As in incorrect. The hallmarks of a social network site are: you can create a profile, you can alter that profile, you can collect friends and you can talk to them. Since you cannot do any of those things at, is not presenting itself as a social network site. But "friend the government" is a clever phrase, I will give you that.

The "calm down digital utopians, let CJR sort the rhetoric from reality" tone is very familiar and we don't really expect you to quit it, even though it would do you a world of good. What I found new and intriguing about this article is the "direct democracy" thing. I think I have this right: just as the United States is not a direct democracy but a republic, where the principle of self-government is modified by the rule of representatives who distill popular sentiment into wise decisions, so it is in the information sphere: "direct" access to information about the executive branch may appeal to a few digital utopians out there (don't you wish they would calm down?) but it is not what the United States is about; rather, we need representative access, via the skeptical, curious, unhysterical and professional press, which sorts through the information and asks the wise questions. Do I have that right?

Good luck with that concept. May we see it elaborated, please?

(end of comment from CJR site.)

It's a fascinating idea: direct access to information is a danger to democracy--we need mediated access-- just like government by plebiscite raises the danger of mob-rule. Here's CJR's Megan Garber:

It remains to be seen how the man that many have dubbed the “YouTube President” will treat the various forms of information-dissemination that don’t fall under the convenient rubric of “direct democracy.” There’s a thin line, after all, between transparency and advocacy—and, for that matter, between information and propaganda. The goal can’t simply be transparency itself—how can we hold anyone accountable to something so self-referential—but rather transparency that is processed through a journosphere that is diligent, curious, and skeptical. Otherwise, “direct democracy” easily veers into “direct publicity.”

See what I mean? only "processsed" transparency gets you anywhere democratic. According to the adults at CJR.

UPDATE: At the CJR site, Megan Garber writes:

@Jay Rosen: I certainly wasn't trying "to establish that there are out there quite a few naive and simple-minded souls who think that talking about transparency is the same thing as doing something about it, and who instantly praised the new site as a kind of deliverance to a new age."

Yes, you were, Megan. At least, that is how your piece reads. And if you don't know that, well, it's kind of a problem. The rhetoric of your article--the manner in which it intends to persuade us--leans heavily on the contrast between techno-utopians being fooled by appearances and the sober reality check you and CJR are providing.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 22, 2009 10:46 AM | Permalink

Your description of how President Obama will handle the press seems at odds with how he handled them during his campain. I don't recall other canidates excluding members of the press for running unflattering stories, well I guess the Clinton's came close. Obama formed a press bubble during the campain to rival Bush's, muzzling Biden for the final few weeks of the camapain for example. I hope he is more open than Bush, but based on his past actions I am skeptical. is more permanent camapin than transparency. It is already "processed" transparency, Scott McClellan on steroids. Obama will let you see, but only what he wants you to see. You can send questions but are not promised answers. Nor do your questiona appear on the blogs, a pretty one way flow of information/propaganda. He is telling the press as firmly as Bush, hey I don't need you, which the CJR seems to have already figured out. With Bush this was bad, rollback. Now it is good, change I can believe in.

Since it was rollback bor Bush, amybe we can call it rollover for Obama.

Posted by: abad man at January 22, 2009 11:44 AM | Permalink

What I find most interesting here is exemplified by Michael Schere, over at Swampland.

He stenographs a "gleeful" RNC email saying that Obama's violated his ethics pledge with two appointments, cites the AP quoting Gibbs saying they were going to get waivers.

He did so, without apparently reading, and certainly not linking to, the actual executive order posted on The EO includes an express waiver process, which really belonged in the story, and made the RNC complaint seem more petty.

But that's not the point. The point is that if he doesn't do this, his readers can, and did. (and he did update the post with the link to the EO, and a reference to the section on waivers). Removing exclusivity of access to white house content should be seen as liberating; a reporter can link to the source material rather than summarizing it, and provide more analysis and less (duplicative) reporting in the online versions of stories.

This harks back to Jay's note, long ago now, that the web should complement rather than interfere with good journalism.

Posted by: jayackroyd at January 22, 2009 1:30 PM | Permalink

He is telling the press as firmly as Bush, hey I don't need you, which the CJR seems to have already figured out. With Bush this was bad, rollback. Now it is good, change I can believe in.

Good point.

What Jay appears to be describing vis a vis Obama does not seem all that much different from what Bushco did; the biggest difference in what Jay describes appears to be a matter of small difference in where you fall on the "contempt vs disdain" scale.

Both Bush and Obama seem intent on communicating "directly with the (read "his") people"; but Bush used the pre-existing right wing media establishment, while Obama is using the network he developed during his campaign. As as result, I expect to see echoes of Jay's "rollback" analysis among conservative media critics; while jay continues his analysis from the left, repackaging the same (insightful)ideas in a boxed labelled "the cool style".

Posted by: p.lukasiak [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 22, 2009 2:31 PM | Permalink

I will leave the "Obama is acting just like Bush" meme to others. As well as Obama: the intensification of Bush. ("Scott McClellan on steroids.") The culture warriors, and the professional ironizers in the press will both enjoy that strategem. I think we will see it all over the place soon. And why not: It's a funny ha-ha, balloon-popping meme.

As an analytic tool, a descriptive handle on the situation, it is gross and stupid.

However, if the question is: Will Obama do things Bush also did, including things the press sees as de-certifying to them? I have no doubt he will do some things like that, yes. If that's what "just like Bush" means to you, grab a party hat, a drink and join the discount ironizers and the culture war circuit.

As my post argues at some length, the Bush "press policy" was one part of a much larger and more serious thing: the opacity agenda which ran government-wide, the attempt to make the exercise of power more illegible to the world, the expansion of executive power that also required a retreat from empiricism. Rollback was one of the things they did.

I do not think Obama will continue that larger thing. I think he will, for the most part (but with possible exceptions) reverse it. But of course this has to be watched. We could be wrong about him.

On the narrow question that CJR still thinks is the question--how much access to tough questioning from the pro press will he allow, and when, with what hurdles--I don't know where he will come down on that.

If we go by the evidence in the transition there will be opportunities--Obama had relatively numerous short press conferences--but they will be controlled. He will try to reserve an edge. He kept tight control of who was allowed to ask questions.

If we go by the evidence of the campaign, the picture there shows a would-be president who didn't feel he needed the press for much of anything. (Gibbs was apparently a backstage screamer and did not endear.) Certainly a continuation of the candidate who is more or less out of reach would be "joining" with Bush for that part of Rollback.

Q. What were Bush & Cheney trying to do with rollback? A. Make the government more opaque and less questioned, with broken deliberations and non-functioning oversight across the spectrum.

If what Obama is going for is very different from that--and he's made a pretty good start on signaling "different"--then the overlapping practice, "dissing" the press," looks different because the aims are so different. They are based on two different views of power too.

Still: Obama is not an information saint or a priest of transparency. He's a politician playing the angles.

I made the argument in my post that he would be a fool and would waste power by leaving the briefing room in the trashed conditions Bush wanted for it. It is one of the premiere stages for the White House to broadcast to the world, on the same scale as the expectations Obama has raised. He would be dumb not to step into it from time to time, and use that platform as he will use others.

And then there's his cockiness and his cool. I cannot imagine him declining the chance to command the full East Room White House stage and engage his mind and wit in explaining his decisions to world media. Doesn't fit with who he is to decline that.

My guess: He will do press conferences, he will do interviews. He will probably try to control them more than the press likes. He will certainly go around them more than they are used to, and he will probably ignore them a lot more than they like. He will use to replace some things they think they did.

He will have to reckon with the full picture-- his transparency agenda interacting with narrower political needs, the release of information in hopes that it generates more power via more participation, patience and support--while the press gets to zone out on its issue of access: the chance to ask their tough probing questions as the Voice of the People, skeptical division.

Also, first opportunity for the DC scandal culture and its drip-drip-drip of revelations, the torture treatment in which our current press specializes, they will go there. It's part of their brand. What he does when they go that way on him... this will tell us a lot.

Okay, are things cleared up then? I think I can let John McQuaid, formerly an investigative reporter with the Times-Picayune in Washington, take it from here.

Like Bush, Obama appears to view the media agenda in fundamental conflict with his own. But now, the perceived difference isn’t ideological. It’s programmatic. Obama (correctly, I think) sees the press representing two things that are clear obstacles to his ambitious plans: official Washington and a trivia-obsessed media culture.

First, the official Washington view: There’s a certain, Broderesque way of doing things. Be centrist, bipartisan - especially if you’re a Democratic president. Listen to the conservative talking heads who dominate Sunday talk shows, who will advise you to be … conservative. This world, shaped by the rise of conservative media since the Reagan era, remains several steps behind where the country is, or is ready to be, on politics and policy.

Second, the media culture: The cable maw must be fed with transient panics. Feeding frenzies and micro-scandals dominate. They fuel the chat shows, opinion columns and blogs. These faux crises and dramas, which usually pass with little consequence, can knock a presidential agenda off-stride or even destroy it.

McQuaid as a former participant picks up on the "growing insularity of and disconnectedness of the establishment press over the past generation. They are obstacles both to good journalism and to the kind of bold political reforms Obama is pursuing. He is right to be wary of them."

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 22, 2009 5:13 PM | Permalink


He is our president and we do not know where he stands on these issues? You're the press critic, who do we blame the press for not asking or Obama for not answering? Actions still speak louder than words or official memos. Obama has not been transparent.

Still: Obama is not an information saint or a priest of transparency. He's a politician playing the angles.

exactly my point, if grossly and stupidly made, so was Bush.

Posted by: abad man at January 22, 2009 6:51 PM | Permalink

I might be getting high reading clear words and conceptually conscious. All I got is giddy. I better maintain maintaining and keep my mouth shut, not chase the high elevating my own words, and wait to see if I come down or hangover.

However, there are a couple of irresistible bon mots. Motes, really. One right there at the last (comment), from, 'awaiting Obama's signals' that he's managing "the torture treatment in which our current press specializes." This: He parked a lob-ball with his first swing. When petty FOX played the record spliced backwards on-air, and heard it saying he undid his taking the oath, to pitch the meme he wasn't sworn in, duly: the first day he acted and redid it no question -- 'so help emem God.' Which is 'meme' reversed, deflected, ricocheted, and it's left the building echo chamber ... of "like the breaking of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore."

Well, that's not "a couple" of motes; it's one. Enough to wave my hand to assure any that I'm not so inebriated with heap-strong Big Media-analysis elixir that I'm comatose. Hi, Jay, bye, GRRRRRRREAT trrrrrrreat.

You perhaps recognize me when I return as the 'strange enchanted boy' speaking astrology. Like this: Tip the press (or anyone) 'accessing' Obama that flattery will get you everywhere with a Leo (Sun sign). Press conferences: No. Magazine 'profile interviews': Yes, and twice on Sunday.

Second tip: Moon in Gemini -- he'll report what they reported he reported they reported he reportedly said, and he'll write it himself, and can, if/should any of them get out of line. Recto Bush not reading newspapers, verso Obama edits them.

Wheeeee ... over'n'out

Posted by: Meremark at January 22, 2009 7:25 PM | Permalink

Thanks for the thoughtful comment above, Jay. I like your realistic optimism.

It's interesting to look back to 2001, before 9/11, anthrax, heightened concerns over protecting critical infrastructure, and cyber attacks.

See-Through Openness
Can 'sunshine laws' sometimes shed too much light?
SPJ 2001 FOI Report, Weird Torts: Coming to a Courtroom Near You (pdf)

Posted by: Tim at January 23, 2009 3:53 AM | Permalink

It wasn't until 2006, that the trend established after 9/11 started to reverse:

FOIA Facts: Bush Orders FOIA Executive Officers
OMB Offers an Easy Way to Follow the Money
Will Obama, FOIA Community Push to Apply FOI to Congress?

Posted by: Tim at January 23, 2009 4:02 AM | Permalink

From personal experience, I know that the "trend" started from the moment Bushco took over.

This is in regard to FOIA specifically. Immediately after the Florida election debacle I asked the justice department for the pre-clearance documents concerning Florida's "felons list" law -- and at that time, the people I dealt with told me that information available under FOIA would be far more limited under Bush. (As a result of this knowledge, I didn't have to file an FOIA request, they just sent me a pile of documents before the coming crackdown on information distribution happened.)

Jay, I don't disagree with you (I mean, I still called myself patient zero of Bush Derangement syndrome.) I just want to point out that when one looks at the limited question of "how Bush/Obama handles the press", there look to be similarities. Placing media relations in the larger framework of "the exercise of power" goes beyond the mere question of how a President handles the press (and usually winds up being done within an ideological framework. Take for example the question of the waiver of the 'no lobbyists can work for us' rule for William Lynn III. Lynn is practically the poster boy for public/private revolving door for lobbyist in DC, and how you perceive that waiver is usually dependent upon ideology.)

After all, in reality all important decisions take place in private, behind closed doors, and at best what we get are illusions of different levels of opacity/transparency. We aren't privy to the private meetings in the Oval Office (or at the President's dinner table) where things really get hashed out, and where the balance is struck between the best course, the most political advantageous course, and the politically possible course.

Posted by: p.lukasiak [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2009 7:15 AM | Permalink

We're in different times now. A president can only be judged by the amount of history that occurred while in office. History has a much longer term memory than the events most of us will ever forget.

Posted by: Rob at January 23, 2009 11:31 AM | Permalink

On Twitter this morning, I asked Ana Marie Cox, who is rapidly becoming an insider's insider in the Washington press corps, "I understand you see points of similarity, but on the whole do you think Obama is following the Bush model in press relations?"

The key phrase was "on the whole."

Her reply: "I think Obama is perfecting the Bush model of media relations, while MSM hasn't changed its WH coverage model much at all."

To which I said, "Gotcha, @anamariecox So encouraging culture war on the press, Obama will perfect it, right? Stooge figure as press secretary, Obama's there."

To this she didn't reply, because... well, because she is Ana Marie Cox, soon to be the next Maureen Dowd, and she doesn't have to.

But Karen Tumulty of Time did, "What gets misunderstood is how little actual White House reporting happens in or near the briefing room."

I'd call Ana Marie Cox's conclusion, that Obama is perfecting what Bush did, fatuous and essentially trivial. Sensationalism for cocktail sipping insiders. Now I might change my mind if she develops it into an argument at a post with examples and ideas that show how far she takes this idea of perfecting Bush.

Why is it fatuous? Because it has to define the Bush model so narrowly to get to it its conclusion: don't leak, stay on message, keep the press at a comfortable distance from POTUS and don't answer reporters' questions with anything more than a repeat of "safe" phrases. That's her Bush model, as far as I can tell.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 23, 2009 11:49 AM | Permalink

A sure sign of the apocalypse is Paul and me in agreement. To clarify further I do not mean to imply Obama is the same as Bush just that they are both politicians, two different sides of the same coin. Obama will do some things better than Bush and some of the “bad “ things Bush did Obama will do to an even greater degree. If McClellan on steroids is poor analysis, I am not sure what that makes “the cool style” vs. the “stooge figure” except in the larger context of Bush=bad, Obama=good.

Obama has demonstrated his willingness to go back on his word, public campaign funding; to not let his past rhetoric stand in the way of what he wants or needs, REV Wright and Paul’s example above; and a casual attitude toward the law, disabling fraud controls for credit card donations to his campaign. I am not here to argue this makes him good or bad but rather a politician. I could provide a list of some of Bush’s faults but that would be redundant on this site. Was Obama open to these questions? Did he fully answer them? It sort of depends on whether you want him to succeed or fail doesn’t it.

So If I am not sure how a list of which reporters will get to ask questions on a particular day is an improvement over Bushco, or that McClellan bloviating to the press might not be as bad as pure unfiltered bloviation dispensed directly to the masses via the WWW on Whitehouse .gov, feel free to color ma a culture warrior. To paraphrase Paul, “at best what we get are illusions of different levels of opacity/transparency” and “ how you perceive that … is usually dependent upon ideology”. I am guilty as charged.

48 percent of the nation was opposed to the “kind of bold political reforms Obama is pursuing”. I would hope that good journalism would provide some sort of obstacle. Is not that supposed to be its job?

Posted by: abad man at January 23, 2009 11:59 AM | Permalink

Or the press model could be hey, we don't need you, with us out here arguing over differences in the mechanics.

Posted by: abad man at January 23, 2009 12:08 PM | Permalink

I have advice for him. Cupping my hands to make a faux megaphone, I shout out to Barack Obama, “write it yourself!” Meaning: Don’t start a blog and make it an extension of the press release. You’d be worse off, with a lame blog and a blown start in the race to be smart online. Don’t start a Barack Obama blog at all unless you are willing to write it yourself. He heard me (and saw me) and chuckled. “When I find three hours of free time in my day, I will do that.”

Which was a diss. But a polite, smiley one; certainly I took no offense. Later on he did start writing blog posts himself— on Daily Kos, for example.
...that was still my advice: write it yourself. You don’t have to do things the way they have always been done. Turn the page, is the way Obama put it during the 2008 campaign. I like that image. But once you turn the page you have to write it yourself.

I wonder whether anyone who has provided advice to the new President or any President about how to spend his time has ever worked as a member of the White House staff (in any capacity) or at least had a close friend or acquaintance who has. If anyone reading this falls into one of these two categories, I also wonder whether he or she has the same reaction to this bit of 'out of touch with reality' comment. As someone who falls within these categories -- (and if you think that by not revealing my personal identity is indication that I'm a fraud, so be it), you may see the naive, ego-centric silliness of this remark. An engaged President (for example, Clinton--OK, I'm giving a hint here -- albeit a very vague one)has an overwhelming amount of work to do, and a smart President (Clinton again as an example)knows as well as anyone else the effects of how what type of communication works and how to handle it and how to apportion it. Obama and his team showed its communications savvy to be as masterful as the best PR firms in the world. The description of this brief interaction between the OP and the presidential nominee, if it provides an insight into anything, demonstrates how 'lame' and 'unsmart' blogosphere functionaries can be. The writer describes Obama's response as a 'diss.' I see it as a high compliment that the candidate responded in such a kind way to such lameness.

Posted by: Allyn G at January 23, 2009 12:34 PM | Permalink

That's cool that you worked there. Thanks for dropping by. Far from invalidating your arguments, your experience would add authority, wouldn't it? I think you might have misread me a little bit, though. My advice was not for the candidate to spend three-to-five hours a day writing blog posts, which (I can't tell for sure) you seem to suggest. My advice was: don't start a blog unless you can write it yourself. The press release and designated spokesman system works just fine on its own. There is no need to extend it into blogging too.

As you can see, it was a relevant warning.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 23, 2009 2:16 PM | Permalink

Just read your tweet asking for feedback on the video of President Obama's visit to the WH briefing room. What struck me most is that the President looked like he was on the campaign trail, and the press were asking for photos. Seems more appropriate for the press to ask for souvenir photos at the *end* of an assignment in the press pool, not at the beginning. The President definitely exudes "cool" during his visit there, as if to say, I'm not too worried about you folks.

Posted by: Steve Sanford at January 23, 2009 5:01 PM | Permalink

Why is it fatuous? Because it has to define the Bush model so narrowly to get to it its conclusion: don't leak, stay on message, keep the press at a comfortable distance from POTUS and don't answer reporters' questions with anything more than a repeat of "safe" phrases. That's her Bush model, as far as I can tell.

I can't believe I'm defending AMC here (and I suspect she'd be shocked to hear it), but you asked her about "press relations", and she gave you a pretty good answer. Your "rollback" critique is about the use of power, and goes well beyond the narrower question of "press relations".
and, to come to your defense, Allyn G clearly didn't read your post very closely, because your shouted out comment was in regard to Obama as a Senate candidate (and someone who, at the time, publicly stated he would not be ready to be President in 2008). (I personally think that a US Senator can and should have the time to "blog" to his constituent, don't you?)

Posted by: p.lukasiak [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2009 7:56 PM | Permalink

Read this profile of Robert Gibbs, Paul, and tell me if it sounds anything like the relationship between Bush and his press secretaries. Scott McClellan? Dana Perino? Ari Flesicher? (whom he barely knew.) Does that qualify as "press relations?" I would think so. Gibbs, after all, is the person in charge of those relations. In the person he chose for the key job is Obama "perfecting the Bush model?" I don't think there is any evidence he is.

Go back to Bush's transition in 2000, and compare: did he have the news conferences Obama did? Is Obama perfecting what Bush did during Bush 43's transition? I haven't looked but from what I recall of 2000 their meet-the-press records are very different.

I believe the comparison Cox is making is thin, narcissistic and flippant. If you want to say there are things Obama's doing that Bush also did, fine. Mark Leibovich observes a few in the article I linked to. If you want to say that Bush showed there's no penality for dissing the press and Obama will feel that way too, fine. That's worth discussing.

The notion of model borrowing--or perfecting--is craptastic. But good for surface skating cute-on-TV points.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 23, 2009 11:56 PM | Permalink


FOIA didn't change from the 2000 Clinton administration to the 2001 Bush administration until after 9/11/2001. The agencies operated the same way. After the 9/11 and anthrax attacks, agencies were directed to scrub everything publicly available for operational security (OPSEC) and personally identifiable information (PII) (pdf) with support for greater scrutiny of FOIA requests backed up by Ashcroft's memo in Oct 2001.

Seriously. Before that, everyone was trying to figure out how to set up, organize and update their eFOIA reading rooms.

Posted by: Tim at January 24, 2009 2:27 AM | Permalink


... and reduce their FOIA backlog.


"Go back to Bush's transition in 2000, and compare ..."

Excellent advice! In fact, I think a Time's Arrow/Time's Cycle is an excellent approach to examining Presidential transitions.

Bush didn't become President-elect until December 13, 2000. He held his first news conference on the 15th. Please do compare the transition of that contested period with this one.

You can also compare Bush's final days with Clinton's final days.

Posted by: Tim at January 24, 2009 3:03 AM | Permalink

Read this profile of Robert Gibbs, Paul, and tell me if it sounds anything like the relationship between Bush and his press secretaries.

To the extent that Gibbs sound more like Rove than Fleischer in terms of the design of his press strategy ("At the forefront of Obama’s tightly held communications operation was Gibbs, an affable Alabaman with pit-bullish tendencies behind the scenes in defense of his boss") you have a point. Fleischer does not seem to be an "architect" of communications strategy the way that Gibbs and Rove are/were.

(But I think its an exaggeration to say that Bush "barely knew" Fleischer, who not only worked on Bush IIs campaign from the time Elizabeth Dole dropped out in 1999, but was deputy communications director of Bush I's campaign in 1992, which Bush II was heavily involved in.)

What I think is the most relevant comparison between the Bush and Obama communications teams is their pride in ignoring the 'establishment press'. ("The campaign bragged that Obama never even visited with the editorial board of The Washington Post"... "'we did not do ‘cocktail party’ interviews...We could laugh every time our opponents would do them.'”") and their impermeability ("This enabled the Obama team to maintain tight control of its information. They prided themselves on never leaking.")

(as an aside, I think [im]permeability is less a function of organization, and far more a function of how well the campaign is doing. Its when things go badly that the leaks sprout, and there were leaks from Team Obama on those few occassions that things were going badly for him.)

In terms of press relations, the biggest difference may just be the nature of the mission "bigger than ourselves" that those running communication strategy seem to be on. With Bush, it was all about the GOP an a 'conservative' ideology. With Obama, its about a cult of personality.

Ultimately, both administrations seem to have the goal of not allowing the establishment media to set the agenda...and perhaps more importantly, not allowing the media to determine the frame in which debate takes place pursuant to that agenda. As someone who is critical of Obama and Bush and the establishment media, its hard to say whose right and whose wrong here... I guess I won't be satisfied until everyone is pursuing my agenda, and framing the debate in terms that I like! :)

Posted by: p.lukasiak [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 24, 2009 8:51 AM | Permalink

perhaps the phenomenon that I was told about was isolated to the DoJ (or specifically to the civil rights division of the DoJ, which Bushco was hostile to from day one). But all I know is what I was told....

Posted by: p.lukasiak [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 24, 2009 8:56 AM | Permalink

Good lord, anyone who believes "with Bush it was all about the GOP an(?) a conservative ideology" has been shooting up too much Hopium.

Except for those to the left of Noam Chomsky, who could possibly believe that George Bush was serving up "conservative ideology"? Do you even know what "conservative ideology" is?

George Bush was more liberal than Bill Clinton---get a grip on reality and stop falling back on mindless but convenient cliches.

Posted by: QC Examiner at January 24, 2009 2:43 PM | Permalink

I know those Supreme Court appointments were liberal guys, and his tax policy was super progressive, and certainly as a regulator Bush believed in strengthening government's hand, and his human rights credentials are strong, then there was his many pro-choices stands, so, yeah, CQ, Bush was a pretty conventional liberal, sort of a Texas version of Hubert Humphrey, and yes, quite to the left of the more centrist Bill Clinton. I don't know why more people don't see it, do you?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 24, 2009 10:23 PM | Permalink

Hmmm ... could the Bush administration been both liberal and conservative, partisan permanent campaigner and "go-it-alone" principled leader who didn't govern by polls even if it meant destroying his and his party's brand? (BTW, Clinton is regularly accused of governing by polls and he also destroyed his party's brand.)

The shockingly liberal legacy of George W. Bush

Bush's legacy is more than the protracted war in Iraq. In some areas it is the result of hardline conservative ideology — but in others it is surprisingly liberal.

Posted by: Tim at January 25, 2009 8:00 AM | Permalink

I would call Bush a big government radical, who was also an insanely pro-business Republican, a militarist, a crazed Wilsonian in foreign policy, and a Christianist, someone who believes this is Christian country. His positions on social issues were "conservative" as the religious wing of that movement has defined it. What that adds up to no one has any idea. Whole portions of his political philosophy are best described as magical thinking.

Anyone who supported him should live in shame, and apologize to their fellow citizens when they talk about him.

Via Twitter: Obama Administration officials briefing the press namelessly? Groan. The press sits for it? Double groan. A bad practice. There is no defense for continuing it, and that goes for the Obama White House and the reporters who don't walk out. If they take it, they deserve it.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at January 25, 2009 9:46 AM | Permalink

from jay's linked "briefing the press" piece above...

"We think it was done in a way that was upfront and transparent," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a briefing when questioned why video cameras were not present.

Pressed on the matter, Gibbs said, "we would have had to get a bigger room."

and just how difficult is it for the President of the United States to 'get a bigger room'?!?!?

Gibbs is going to need to figure out how to tell the media to shove it without looking like an idiot himself...

Posted by: p.lukasiak [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 26, 2009 11:26 AM | Permalink

... so, yeah, CQ, Bush was a pretty conventional liberal....

Jay, please don't overanalyze.

Bush was a failure. He left office with an approval rating in the low 20s. An unpopular failure: Therefore a liberal.

If Bush was a true conservative, he would have been a success. He would have left office with a 100% approval rating. Like John Wayne.

Branding, Jay. Branding.

Posted by: joe at January 30, 2009 9:22 PM | Permalink

Only you would start a piece with the announcement that you once met the future President -- an encounter that puts you in the company of how many hundred thousand? I'm sure he's awaiting your advice with bated breath. Like all the rest of us, of course.

Posted by: CM at February 1, 2009 12:50 AM | Permalink

Nice piece. Informative. I think that Obama's idea of transparency in government may actually give the press a lot less to do in Washington. Obviously with Bush and former presidents, at least since Teddy Roosevelt, the press has had to work pretty hard, harder in some administrations than others, to find out what's up.

I can't say I blame some presidents for not being so quick to speak with the press in some situations. The press is infamous for exaggerating things to sell papers, mags, etc. That is pretty irresponsible of those who call themselves journalists. Not all journalists are like that, I know, but the average person doesn't know that. They tend to believe what they read, and the press, and various other forms of media manipulate that. Again, there are some that do very honorable, respectable work that people need to hear. Unfortunately, you usually only find that kind of stuff on NPR or PBS because the mainstream networks know that there are other options that will bring in the cash.

You seem like a pretty good journalist. I saw you on Bill Moyers' Journal and that is a pretty good reference for me, otherwise I am not familiar with your work except what I have read on this site. Even though everyone needs to make a living, it seems like something as important and influential as journalism should not be considered a business. It seems like you have your ethics and morals together. Kudos!

Posted by: underdog at February 6, 2009 9:35 PM | Permalink

From the Intro