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Read about Jay Rosen's book, What Are Journalists For?

Excerpt from Chapter One of What Are Journalists For? "As Democracy Goes, So Goes the Press."

Essay in Columbia Journalism Review on the changing terms of authority in the press, brought on in part by the blog's individual--and interactive--style of journalism. It argues that, after Jayson Blair, authority is not the same at the New York Times, either.

"Web Users Open the Gates." My take on ten years of Internet journalism, at

Read: Q & As

Jay Rosen, interviewed about his work and ideas by journalist Richard Poynder

Achtung! Interview in German with a leading German newspaper about the future of newspapers and the Net.

Audio: Have a Listen

Listen to an audio interview with Jay Rosen conducted by journalist Christopher Lydon, October 2003. It's about the transformation of the journalism world by the Web.

Five years later, Chris Lydon interviews Jay Rosen again on "the transformation." (March 2008, 71 minutes.)

Interview with host Brooke Gladstone on NPR's "On the Media." (Dec. 2003) Listen here.

Presentation to the Berkman Center at Harvard University on open source journalism and NewAssignment.Net. Downloadable mp3, 70 minutes, with Q and A. Nov. 2006.

Video: Have A Look

Half hour video interview with Robert Mills of the American Microphone series. On blogging, journalism, NewAssignment.Net and distributed reporting.

Jay Rosen explains the Web's "ethic of the link" in this four-minute YouTube clip.

"The Web is people." Jay Rosen speaking on the origins of the World Wide Web. (2:38)

One hour video Q & A on why the press is "between business models" (June 2008)

Recommended by PressThink:

Town square for press critics, industry observers, and participants in the news machine: Romenesko, published by the Poynter Institute.

Town square for weblogs: InstaPundit from Glenn Reynolds, who is an original. Very busy. Very good. To the Right, but not in all things. A good place to find voices in diaolgue with each other and the news.

Town square for the online Left. The Daily Kos. Huge traffic. The comments section can be highly informative. One of the most successful communities on the Net.

Rants, links, blog news, and breaking wisdom from Jeff Jarvis, former editor, magazine launcher, TV critic, now a J-professor at CUNY. Always on top of new media things. Prolific, fast, frequently dead on, and a pal of mine.

Eschaton by Atrios (pen name of Duncan B;ack) is one of the most well established political weblogs, with big traffic and very active comment threads. Left-liberal.

Terry Teachout is a cultural critic coming from the Right at his weblog, About Last Night. Elegantly written and designed. Plus he has lots to say about art and culture today.

Dave Winer is the software wiz who wrote the program that created the modern weblog. He's also one of the best practicioners of the form. Scripting News is said to be the oldest living weblog. Read it over time and find out why it's one of the best.

If someone were to ask me, "what's the right way to do a weblog?" I would point them to Doc Searls, a tech writer and sage who has been doing it right for a long time.

Ed Cone writes one of the most useful weblogs by a journalist. He keeps track of the Internet's influence on politics, as well developments in his native North Carolina. Always on top of things.

Rebecca's Pocket by Rebecca Blood is a weblog by an exemplary practitioner of the form, who has also written some critically important essays on its history and development, and a handbook on how to blog.

Dan Gillmor used to be the tech columnist and blogger for the San Jose Mercury News. He now heads a center for citizen media. This is his blog about it.

A former senior editor at Pantheon, Tom Englehardt solicits and edits commentary pieces that he publishes in blog form at TomDispatches. High-quality political writing and cultural analysis.

Chris Nolan's Spot On is political writing at a high level from Nolan and her band of left-to-right contributors. Her notion of blogger as a "stand alone journalist" is a key concept; and Nolan is an exemplar of it.

Barista of Bloomfield Avenue is journalist Debbie Galant's nifty experiment in hyper-local blogging in several New Jersey towns. Hers is one to watch if there's to be a future for the weblog as news medium.

The Editor's Log, by John Robinson, is the only real life honest-to-goodness weblog by a newspaper's top editor. Robinson is the blogging boss of the Greensboro News-Record and he knows what he's doing.

Fishbowl DC is about the world of Washington journalism. Gossip, controversies, rituals, personalities-- and criticism. Good way to keep track of the press tribe in DC

PJ Net Today is written by Leonard Witt and colleagues. It's the weblog of the Public Journalisn Network (I am a founding member of that group) and it follows developments in citizen-centered journalism.

Here's Simon Waldman's blog. He's the Director of Digital Publishing for The Guardian in the UK, the world's most Web-savvy newspaper. What he says counts.

Novelist, columnist, NPR commentator, Iraq War vet, Colonel in the Army Reserve, with a PhD in literature. How many bloggers are there like that? One: Austin Bay.

Betsy Newmark's weblog she describes as "comments and Links from a history and civics teacher in Raleigh, NC." An intelligent and newsy guide to blogs on the Right side of the sphere. I go there to get links and comment, like the teacher said.

Rhetoric is language working to persuade. Professor Andrew Cline's Rhetorica shows what a good lens this is on politics and the press.

Davos Newbies is a "year-round Davos of the mind," written from London by Lance Knobel. He has a cosmopolitan sensibility and a sharp eye for things on the Web that are just... interesting. This is the hardest kind of weblog to do well. Knobel does it well.

Susan Crawford, a law professor, writes about democracy, technology, intellectual property and the law. She has an elegant weblog about those themes.

Kevin Roderick's LA Observed is everything a weblog about the local scene should be. And there's a lot to observe in Los Angeles.

Joe Gandelman's The Moderate Voice is by a political independent with an irrevant style and great journalistic instincts. A link-filled and consistently interesting group blog.

Ryan Sholin's Invisible Inkling is about the future of newspapers, online news and journalism education. He's the founder of and a self-taught Web developer and designer.

H20town by Lisa Williams is about the life and times of Watertown, Massachusetts, and it covers that town better than any local newspaper. Williams is funny, she has style, and she loves her town.

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing at is a daily review of the best reporting and commentary on the presidency. Read it daily and you'll be extremely well informed.

Rebecca MacKinnon, former correspondent for CNN, has immersed herself in the world of new media and she's seen the light (great linker too.)

Micro Persuasion is Steve Rubel's weblog. It's about how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the business of persuasion. Rubel always has the latest study or article.

Susan Mernit's blog is "writing and news about digital media, ecommerce, social networks, blogs, search, online classifieds, publishing and pop culture from a consultant, writer, and sometime entrepeneur." Connected.

Group Blogs

CJR Daily is Columbia Journalism Review's weblog about the press and its problems, edited by Steve Lovelady, formerly of the Philadelpia Inquirer.

Lost Remote is a very newsy weblog about television and its future, founded by Cory Bergman, executive producer at KING-TV in Seattle. Truly on top of things, with many short posts a day that take an inside look at the industry.

Editors Weblog is from the World Editors Fourm, an international group of newspaper editors. It's about trends and challenges facing editors worldwide. keeps track of developments from the British side of the Atlantic. Very strong on online journalism.

Digests & Round-ups:

Memeorandum: Single best way I know of to keep track of both the news and the political blogosphere. Top news stories and posts that people are blogging about, automatically updated.

Daily Briefing: A categorized digest of press news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

Press Notes is a round-up of today's top press stories from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Richard Prince does a link-rich thrice-weekly digest called "Journalisms" (plural), sponsored by the Maynard Institute, which believes in pluralism in the press.

Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

E-Media Tidbits from the Poynter Institute is group blog by some of the sharper writers about online journalism and publishing. A good way to keep up

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March 30, 2009

Introducing the new Huffington Post Investigative Fund (And My Own Role in It)

"The announcement of its birth, along with the $1.75 million starter budget, is really the launch of a new Internet-based news organization with a focus on original reporting. You might say the Fund's operating principle is: report once, run anywhere."

The news broke Sunday:

The Huffington Post announced today that it is launching a new initiative to produce a wide range of investigative journalism — The Huffington Post Investigative Fund. It is being funded by The Huffington Post and The Atlantic Philanthropies, and will be headed by Nick Penniman, founder of The American News Project, which will be folded into the Investigative Fund.

The full press release is here. I will have a role:

Jay Rosen, associate professor of journalism at New York Universitys Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, will serve as a senior advisor to the project. Rosen, as a director of NewAssignment.Net, his research project at NYU, previously collaborated with The Huffington Post on OffTheBus — an experiment in citizen journalism that drew 12,000 contributors and gained widespread media attention for its coverage of the 2008 campaign.

Said Rosen: “In addition to collaborating on OffTheBus, I’ve been writing for years about this possibility distributed reporting projects that efficiently coordinate the efforts of volunteers, data-combing efforts that are open source, as well as teams of pros and amateurs working together — and I think The Huffington Post Investigative Fund is the next logical step.”

It is important to stress that the new Investigative Fund is separate from the Huffington Post as both a legal entity and an editorial producer. It is a new non-profit, and so the announcement of its birth, along with the $1.75 million starter budget, is really the launch of a new Internet-based news organization with a focus on original reporting. You might say the operating principle is: “report once, run anywhere” because work the Fund produces will be available for any publication or Web site to publish at the same time it is posted on The Huffington Post. (Probably through a Creative Commons license, but this has not been decided.)

Much about how the fund will operate has yet to be determined, but mostly what the money is for is to pay journalists and the costs of investigations. Some of those journalists will work for the fund as staff editors, some will be contracted for as freelancers on a story-by-story basis. Some of the money will, I hope, be used for innovative projects that move in an open source or pro-am direction. That is one of the reasons I am joining up, to advise on that portion. I also think the Fund is an important and public-spirited thing to do; I want to see it come out right, and to gain more resources than it has at the moment.

  • Jeff Jarvis is already thinking about how this fits into the new ecosystem of news.
  • I discuss my own thinking about the potential such a fund has in this 35 minute podcast with Dave Winer. We talk about it in the beginning and then return midway through. (One bit from it: “Just as modern professional journalism was optimized for low participation by the users, readers, viewers, modern professionalized politics was optimized for low participation by voters.”)

The Fund will be run by Nick Penniman, who has been heading up The American News Project. As a senior adviser to Nick and the Fund, my role will be to give sound advice. I will be a paid consultant to the fund during the initial phase (April-September, 2009.) I won’t have decision-making authority, and I don’t expect my advice will always be followed, but that’s probably a good thing. I’m particularly interested in the open source and distributed reporting possibilities, and in pro-am investigations that combine the talents of paid professionals with people who know stuff and want the story to come out.

But I also counseled Nick and Arianna (she will help raise money for the fund, and find partners for it) that the best approach is to have no orthodoxy and to support very traditional investigative reporting by paid pros who are good at it, as well as teams of pros and amateurs, students working with masters of the craft, crowdsourced investigations, and perhaps other methods. They were already there with an ecumenical approach, combining old and new.

The American News Project is all about web video, and that staff will be folded into the Fund. So it will have a strong video component. The Fund expects to hire editors in different topic areas—like the environment or high finance—who can commission pieces in those areas from freelance reporters. Nick Penniman and I have also discussed hiring web-friendly journalists with investigative chops who might blog intensively for the Fund about a key topic for several months and develop new information that way— Josh Marshall style. And there will be some money available for innovative reporting projects for which there is no template at the moment.

Obviously the Fund must also support a very high standard of verification. Its reporting has to hold up. Compared to that, everything else is a detail.

* * *

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

For more details about the Fund and what’s potentially significant about it, see Bill Mitchell of the Poynter Institute: Huffington Post Investigative Team a Nonprofit Model in the Making. Nick Penniman explained the relationship with the Huffington Post, a commercial company, this way…

The nonprofit investigative unit will have “a sisterly or brotherly relationship” with the for-profit Huffington Post “as opposed to operating within it. This will be an important distinction for anyone looking at these models going forward. They’ve given us a financial contribution and essentially they’re giving us their name … but we’re a separate legal entity.”

Unlike many nonprofit startups that hope to develop a sustainable business model beyond contributions, Penniman indicated that the HuffPo Fund will likely return to benefactors repeatedly. He said he does not anticipate selling ads on the investigative site.

“My guess is we’ll be more of a syndication service,” he said, but with a twist: content free for the asking.

As Mitchell points out, “That kind of no-favorites sharing of benefits is critical to preserving a nonprofit’s tax-exempt status because it demonstrates that the organization is not simply serving the interests of one of its backers.”

For the big picture, into which some of these developments may fit, see my previous post: Rosen’s Flying Seminar In The Future of News, with 12 key essays you need to read about the collapse of the old model and the struggle for journalism next.

Andrew Sullivan picks up on my phrase, “report once, run anywhere,” which I adapted from the original in geek. See Wikipedia: Write once, run anywhere.

Steve Smith, ex-editor of the Spokane Spokesman_Review, at his blog, Still a Newspaper Man:

The Huffington Post initiative, as is the case with so many other laudable experiments, will produce journalism for a national audience. What happens to watchdog, investigative journalism in midsize communities such as Spokane, or Boise or Wichita? What happens in small cities such as Yakima, Walla Walla, Eugene?

He also presents some calculations showing that for a local newspaper two full-time investigative reporters cost about $280,000 a year when everything (including legal) is factored in.

Martin Bosworth: Journalism Will Survive. Comments on this news.

The American Spectator blog with a colorful report:

The program’s startup budget will be $1.75 million. The money will be provided by the Huffington Post and the Atlantic Philanthropies. The Bermuda-based Atlantic Philanthropies is headed by Gara LaMarche, who used to be a vice president of liberal uber-philanthropist George Soros’s Open Society Institute. LaMarche is a member of Soros’s Democracy Alliance, a billionaires’ club that is organizing to impose socialism on America.

Will the new program fund anything other than left-wing hit pieces? Your guess is as good as mine.

Hit pieces? Some said this was a hit piece. In my opinion, they were wrong.

Posted by Jay Rosen at March 30, 2009 1:37 AM   Print


I think it is terribly exciting.

I am especially a big fan of the idea that content will be shared. I truly think this is something that will make organizations like this, Pro-Public and Spot.Us (if I may throw Spot.Us in with such company) work. The content is commissioned by the public, in some cases produced/researched by the public and therefore owned by the public.

It also throws to the wind the competitiveness of scoops that often keep news organizations from working together. By sharing content - all parties can come together to help do what they can and have strong partnerships to help where they might be weak.


Posted by: David Cohn at March 30, 2009 4:45 AM | Permalink

I would love to be involved in this project.

Posted by: Dean Petkanas at March 30, 2009 9:51 AM | Permalink

What we need to do is create a system where people can contribute small amount of money towards an expensive FOIA ex. When Palin was trying to get Alaska reporters to pay thousands of dollars for the processing of their documents, we could step up and pay it off in small increments.

Once the goal has been achieved, and the FOIA has been processed, the information would then be either made available to the public at large, or just the people who have contributed moneymy preference is the public at large.

This new project should be not only a forum for new research and a way to strengthen traditional journalism, we should work to make public officials more accountableand the primary way to do this is to flood them with FOIAs.

Cheers.... my two cents.

Posted by: Zach E at March 30, 2009 10:36 AM | Permalink

Try investigating into whats taking place with Thai society and politics @ the moment. There's a real job for you and Jay Rosen. Of course, ya'll have better things to do, just leave it to the Thai press and "international media correspondents".

Posted by: joe at March 30, 2009 10:47 AM | Permalink

Way to go Jay! Obviously the devil's in the details -- but it's just what the doctor ordered as newspapers crumble and the "MSM" squawk the same old tune. I also happen to command some resources which could be of help in this venture.

Posted by: Robert Cohen at March 30, 2009 10:51 AM | Permalink

As traditional reporting consisted in an indept study for some variables in order to outputting a consistent and up-to-date story that required a lot of work by one single person, first in the journalistic-field and after the field-working to teke an extremely precise background trying to achieve a step up in the archives, etc. and guessing that this particular worker probably was not an expert, the initial idea could add, if success, a community-based expertise groups on managing the newsroom, maybe breaking the news-hierarchy stablished by powers like political parties or governments that usually stands-up pressing the news-production from above.

Posted by: eric at March 30, 2009 12:53 PM | Permalink

Glad to see this idea continue to evolve. I am attaching a link that I did with Craig Newmark about three years ago.

Posted by: danielmcvicar at March 30, 2009 1:34 PM | Permalink

Sonoma State has for years done a project through their journalism department that publishes an annual book covering the most important underreported stories for that year. They would make an ideal partner.

Posted by: Ret;ired Caltholic at March 30, 2009 1:44 PM | Permalink

I would love to be involved in this project!

Posted by: pam podger at March 30, 2009 3:23 PM | Permalink

If the current content of the Huffington Post is any indication, readers should be skeptical of any "investigative journalism" it publishes in the future.

Unlike mainstream media, the Post doesn't even pretend to be nonpartisan. It brazenly shills for the Democratic left's agenda. Readers would be prudent to assume the same will be true for any content it subsidizes.

And while one hates to point it out, Arianna herself is, well, a bit of a kook.

This isn't a way to rescue independent journalism. It's another nail in the coffin.

Posted by: Mike at March 30, 2009 3:36 PM | Permalink

This is exciting. Especially the idea of combining trained reporters (like me) with either crowds of amateurs or experts with compelling ideas with whom we can collaborate. As a reporter who covers business, the environment and the economy, I'd love to work more closely with scientists and economists. I also love the idea of being able to publish widely. So where do we find Nick Penniman?

Posted by: Marc Gunther at March 30, 2009 3:53 PM | Permalink

Any chance exporting it overseas in the near future?

Posted by: canablach at March 30, 2009 4:27 PM | Permalink

Would you do a story on Social Security? I am an investigative reporter on my own public access tv series, Your Health Care:Choice or Chance? in Mass. I have just completed three shows on the lack of transparency at the Social Security Admin. and how I got screwed because I was not given the right information. Thus, I am now fighting for $10,816 and really should be getting $25,000.

I know this is happening to millions of people. The benefit I am eligible for and was not told about at the Hyannis, MA office is: if you are at least 62 and unemployed( not retired), you can collect SS until you get a high-paying job. Then Social Security will suspend benefits.

This is not written in the brochure we get every year or on the SS website.

I am happy to talk about this with anyone - and you can hear my shows on this topic at

Ellen Kagan

Posted by: Ellen Kagan at March 30, 2009 4:58 PM | Permalink

I read hUFFpO every day...

And I have to say it is NOT in any way shape or form, unbiased or purely journalisitc in its endeavors...

And while I lean toward more liberal tendancies, I do NOT want my primary source of news tainted by some political slant...

I know dream on...

But to expand this kind of daily information bleeding blog site into a kind of main stream media news source I think does a dis-service to us all... afterall it sounds like some kind of "new" solution to losing our print media...

and I recoil at the idea of the traditional media being replaced by HuffPo and its couterparts some day... because the sensationalist and irrelevant headlines seem more outrageous that I can ever remeber when I JUST read the PAPER...

The theory of it with little consideraton sounds exciting... the reality of it given even a LITTLE thought makes my stomach turn...

Posted by: r f at March 30, 2009 6:27 PM | Permalink

How will be different and better than Huffpo?

Huffpo deletes/doesn't allow controversy of all kinds...

Huffpo CENSORS readers' responses... and we are now to think that they are embarking on REAL journalism???

Sorry, that does not compute...

I read it everyday, but too many of my "comments' just disappear into thin air... and I am NOT a radical of any sort... SO, my trust in this new venture actually being a TRUE journalistic venture is tempered by my experience... and comes with great distrust...

Posted by: RF at March 30, 2009 6:36 PM | Permalink


Maybe your investigators can make sense of this: Agency Recovery Sites

Financial Rescue Nears GDP as Pledges Top $12.8 Trillion

Economy rescue: Adding up the dollars (Use to say $12.4 Trillion and CNN Money hasn't replied to my tweets or provided an explanation on the site.)

CNN Money: Bailout watchdogs: We want more info

I haven't been able to.

Posted by: Tim at March 31, 2009 9:56 PM | Permalink

Thank you.
(Confession - i had to pull out the kleenex when reading this.)

Will there be a separate "wish list" post+comments for this project, or should we do our wishing right here and now?

Posted by: Anna at April 2, 2009 5:11 PM | Permalink

re Steve Smith's

> "What happens to watchdog, investigative journalism in midsize communities such as Spokane, or Boise or Wichita? What happens in small cities...?"

Pardon me for belaboring the obvious, but doesn't support for local investigative journalism fall within the charter of the Knight Foundation? There must be some economies of scale that an overarching "local-journalism-support" structure could provide...
(or not; it just seems like there should be)

Posted by: Anna again at April 3, 2009 5:03 PM | Permalink

Hello All

Sorry if this is a bit off topic [url=][img][/img][/url] but Could anybody recommend a good site for finding clearance mobile phones?
I would really prefer sites that specializes in Sony Ericcson phones if at all possible.


Posted by: Alemialiehype at April 7, 2009 10:58 PM | Permalink



Posted by: immobiliztion at April 8, 2009 6:32 AM | Permalink

Changing the subject (not that anyone sees this but the spambots) - if someone wants to do an investigative citizen journalism blog (like Mrs. Panstreppon's) in community with other investigative journalism blogs (that aren't shilling, and aren't just opining on or pointing to someone else's journalism) - a community that has an intelligent filter so the dreck doesn't bury the good stuff - where's the place to do it?

An investigative-journalism-only subset of Daily Kos would do the trick, if there was one. Otherwise, is the "talk" part of Talking Points Memo the best place around?

Posted by: Anna Haynes at April 8, 2009 1:07 PM | Permalink

From the Intro