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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 62

2012-02-15 17:13:20 (62 comments, 5 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

Some weirdness going on today with the Pulitzer Prize winning fact check site, Politifact. I know the editor Bill Adair, pretty well, and I support what he's doing. I think fact checking and calling out public untruths is something journalists should be doing much more of. The Politifact.com franchise is, in my view, a critically important addition to the news system. This makes criticism of it important, as well. Politifact needs to get this fact checking and "truth-o-meter" thing right. I hope it will. But some strange things happen along the way to that.

Last night Rachel Maddow went medieval on Politifact for the ruling I linked to below. I can see why she reacted as she did. Marco Rubio says a majority of Americans are conservative. Politifact looks into it, and says there's no evidence for that, but a plurality of those who identify as liberal, conservative or moderate... more »

Most reshares: 54

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2013-03-24 23:34:57 (43 comments, 54 reshares, 167 +1s)Open 

Most plusones: 167

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2013-03-24 23:34:57 (43 comments, 54 reshares, 167 +1s)Open 

Latest 50 posts

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2015-02-27 02:14:28 (5 comments, 1 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

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2013-08-16 14:50:04 (13 comments, 10 reshares, 24 +1s)Open 

My new post at PressThink attempts to redefine the term "Fourth Estate." It's now a state of mind that some in the press have (but some don't.) Some who have that state of mind are journalists, some are not.

Here's how The Browser, a very good aggregation, best-of-the-web site, summarized it: "For decades we’ve used the term 'fourth estate' to mean the Press. But it’s better defined as an attitude of mind, the will to hold power to account. Some journalists have it, but the floor is open. We’re back to Carlyle’s original 19C formulation: 'Whoever can speak, speaking now to the whole nation, becomes a power. It matters not what rank he has: the requisite thing is that he have a tongue which others will listen to.'"

My new post at PressThink attempts to redefine the term "Fourth Estate." It's now a state of mind that some in the press have (but some don't.) Some who have that state of mind are journalists, some are not.

Here's how The Browser, a very good aggregation, best-of-the-web site, summarized it: "For decades we’ve used the term 'fourth estate' to mean the Press. But it’s better defined as an attitude of mind, the will to hold power to account. Some journalists have it, but the floor is open. We’re back to Carlyle’s original 19C formulation: 'Whoever can speak, speaking now to the whole nation, becomes a power. It matters not what rank he has: the requisite thing is that he have a tongue which others will listen to.'"___

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2013-08-12 20:20:31 (1 comments, 4 reshares, 16 +1s)Open 

There is a thread that connects these two: Snowden and Jeff Bezos. Something we do know about Snowden — that he's willing to up against the most powerful people in the world — is something we don't know about Bezos. But as publisher of the Washington Post, he is going to find this out about himself: When his free press moment comes, will Jeff Bezos answer the bell? My latest post at PressThink frames it that way.

There is a thread that connects these two: Snowden and Jeff Bezos. Something we do know about Snowden — that he's willing to up against the most powerful people in the world — is something we don't know about Bezos. But as publisher of the Washington Post, he is going to find this out about himself: When his free press moment comes, will Jeff Bezos answer the bell? My latest post at PressThink frames it that way.___

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2013-07-10 19:27:23 (6 comments, 6 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

This week I made a decision that as a press critic I would retire from trying to criticize CNN. I explain why in this post. Since it was published a former executive at CNN, Sid Bedingfield, has said he's almost at that point too. The way I see it, CNN is now just non-fiction TV, also called reality shows. Criticism of it should pass to another department: TV critics who write about a new season of The Voice or The Next Great Food Network Star. 

This week I made a decision that as a press critic I would retire from trying to criticize CNN. I explain why in this post. Since it was published a former executive at CNN, Sid Bedingfield, has said he's almost at that point too. The way I see it, CNN is now just non-fiction TV, also called reality shows. Criticism of it should pass to another department: TV critics who write about a new season of The Voice or The Next Great Food Network Star. ___

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2013-06-14 13:10:31 (1 comments, 7 reshares, 14 +1s)Open 

My new post on my site, PressThink, is about two kinds of commitment in political journalism and some lessons for the press in the leak of  the NSA story to columnist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian.

The two kinds are "see? we have no commitments! so trust us!" which I call in this piece politics: none vs. "here's what's happening and here are my convictions" which I call politics:some. My purpose is not to denounce one or praise the other but merely to make the point that both are valid, effective, "traditional," and professional.

Is the distinction helpful? It's supposed to be.

A small window into this issue was provided by Greenwald when he posted the email exchange between a New York Times reporter seeking comment on Greenwald and blogger Andrew Sullivan, who knows Glenn. As you can see by going here http://goo.gl/geJ6S ther... more »

My new post on my site, PressThink, is about two kinds of commitment in political journalism and some lessons for the press in the leak of  the NSA story to columnist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian.

The two kinds are "see? we have no commitments! so trust us!" which I call in this piece politics: none vs. "here's what's happening and here are my convictions" which I call politics:some. My purpose is not to denounce one or praise the other but merely to make the point that both are valid, effective, "traditional," and professional.

Is the distinction helpful? It's supposed to be.

A small window into this issue was provided by Greenwald when he posted the email exchange between a New York Times reporter seeking comment on Greenwald and blogger Andrew Sullivan, who knows Glenn. As you can see by going here http://goo.gl/geJ6S the reporter asks Sullivan:

1)   He obviously had strong opinions, but how is he as a journalist? Reliable? Honest? Quotes you accurately? Accurately describes your positions? Or is more advocate than journalist?
2)   He says you are a friend, is this so? I get the sense that he is something of a loner and has the kind of uncompromising opinions that makes it hard to keep friends, but could be wrong.

That line or hers, "more advocate than journalist?" shows the kind of thinking I'm pushing against in this post.___

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2013-05-16 14:30:24 (3 comments, 8 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

This week I started releasing a cycle of work that began 14 years ago when I read my first article about "open source journalism." I thought then, and still believe, that the craft of beat reporting would be changed by the discovery that, as Dan Gillmor put it in 1999, "my readers know more than I do." That, plus the frictionless ease by which information and expertise from knowledgable users could flow in would make possible a different kind of beat coverage. 

A lot has happened since I came to that conclusion 14 years ago: The rise of blogging after 2000, which changed the READ ONLY web into Read/Write. The rise of social after 2007, which changed the web into read/writer/share. The routine use of networked methods in journalism, as with finding sources over Twitter or Facebook. 

But we still haven't seen the networked beat emerge in full form yet, and thati... more »

This week I started releasing a cycle of work that began 14 years ago when I read my first article about "open source journalism." I thought then, and still believe, that the craft of beat reporting would be changed by the discovery that, as Dan Gillmor put it in 1999, "my readers know more than I do." That, plus the frictionless ease by which information and expertise from knowledgable users could flow in would make possible a different kind of beat coverage. 

A lot has happened since I came to that conclusion 14 years ago: The rise of blogging after 2000, which changed the READ ONLY web into Read/Write. The rise of social after 2007, which changed the web into read/writer/share. The routine use of networked methods in journalism, as with finding sources over Twitter or Facebook. 

But we still haven't seen the networked beat emerge in full form yet, and that is why I continued to work on the problem. In this post at my blog, PressThink, I respond to "specs" I received from Quartz News (qz.com), the Atlantic's global business news site. In reply to these specs, I gave them a design for launching a networked beat for one of their "obsessions" (that's what they call them, rather than beats.)

The obsession we chose to model in networked form was "covering bitcoin as a window into digital money." Here's the post, with the background, the assignment from Quartz and the beat design. ___

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2013-03-24 23:34:57 (43 comments, 54 reshares, 167 +1s)Open 

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2013-01-20 03:39:19 (8 comments, 9 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

The Atlantic magazine made a fairly large mistake recently when it ran some "sponsor content" from the Church of Scientology. What ran was something resembling an article from the Church about all the great things going on there. The Atlantic initially moderated the comments in a way that seemed to be cheerleading for the Church. Then when people around the web noticed they took the article down, plainly said "we goofed," and added that they would be conducting a review of what happened. (All were good moves.) That review was evidently completed, and the results were summarized in a memo that became public today. I've linked to it.

I see three problems. 

One: why is this a memo to staff (which was leaked) rather than a public statement by The Atlantic about what went wrong with the Scientology deal? I'd love to know. Seems to me there are almost no... more »

The Atlantic magazine made a fairly large mistake recently when it ran some "sponsor content" from the Church of Scientology. What ran was something resembling an article from the Church about all the great things going on there. The Atlantic initially moderated the comments in a way that seemed to be cheerleading for the Church. Then when people around the web noticed they took the article down, plainly said "we goofed," and added that they would be conducting a review of what happened. (All were good moves.) That review was evidently completed, and the results were summarized in a memo that became public today. I've linked to it.

I see three problems. 

One: why is this a memo to staff (which was leaked) rather than a public statement by The Atlantic about what went wrong with the Scientology deal? I'd love to know. Seems to me there are almost no advantages to making it an internal thing and many plusses to going public. Well, it became public anyway, a completely predictable event because the writers were pissed!

Two: The memo from Atlantic president Scott Havens says that there was nothing wrong with the idea of selling "sponsored content" to the Church of Scientology. The error was in "the execution of the campaign." More specifically, "we did not adequately work with the advertiser to create a content program that was in line with our brand." This suggests that there was a way of giving space to the Church of Scientology to tell its story that would be line with the Atlantic's editorial brand, but the business staff just didn't execute well enough.

I question that claim. The Church has been extremely hostile to journalists. Its attempts to intimidate the press and prevent facts that don't fit its narrative from coming out are well documented and would be well known to the Atlantic's editorial staff. See:

http://www.lamag.com/features/2012/12/18/the-tip-of-the-spear

It's also extremely aggressive in promoting an unblemished image of the Church. The idea that Scientology was a good candidate for "sponsored content" but the Atlantic just didn't execute well feels far fetched to me, especially in a memo that says: "Our highest priority is The Atlantic’s reputation and credibility." Scientology was a poor candidate for sponsored content, exactly the kind of client that should be turned down because of the likelihood of reputation harm. 

Three: The memo makes a point of warning the writers, critics and bloggers at The Atlantic, who speak their minds about almost everything: "And we most certainly should not speak to the press or use social media to attack our organization or our colleagues. We are a team that rises and falls together."

What actually happened is that some writers for The Atlantic said on Twitter that they were not on board with this decision, had nothing to do with it, and they were concerned about it. That's not an attack. It's an alarm. It may be uncomfortable and embarrassing for the organization, but if the highest priority is the Atlantic's reputation and credibility, then the people who run the magazine should be grateful for writers who say publicly, "the team erred." 

Let me add that I am a (paid) subscriber to The Atlantic, a loyal reader of theatlantic.com, and a fan of many of the magazine's writers. I want its reputation to remain high. The decision to go forward with the Scientology feature was a mistake from which The Atlantic and the journalism world can learn. But there seems to be some mistaken ideas in play. That's not about execution, Mr. Havens. ___

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2013-01-16 23:54:41 (2 comments, 4 reshares, 28 +1s)Open 

I agree with Glenn Greenwald that we need an investigation of the conduct of Federal prosecutors Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann in the Aaron Swartz case. I believe the right point of pressure is the Inspector General's office of the Department of Justice, but it is also a good thing that Congress is getting involved.

The victimized institution in the case, the JSTOR service, said it saw no point in prosecuting Swartz for a felony. As far as it was concerned, the case was closed when Swartz returned the data he downloaded from the MIT network.

The investigation should begin there. Why did the US Attorney for the Massachusetts district disagree? Also important, in my view: What principle of proportionality was in play in this prosecution?  

I agree with Glenn Greenwald that we need an investigation of the conduct of Federal prosecutors Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann in the Aaron Swartz case. I believe the right point of pressure is the Inspector General's office of the Department of Justice, but it is also a good thing that Congress is getting involved.

The victimized institution in the case, the JSTOR service, said it saw no point in prosecuting Swartz for a felony. As far as it was concerned, the case was closed when Swartz returned the data he downloaded from the MIT network.

The investigation should begin there. Why did the US Attorney for the Massachusetts district disagree? Also important, in my view: What principle of proportionality was in play in this prosecution?  ___

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2012-07-29 14:20:39 (10 comments, 6 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

"CNN needs new thinking," said its big boss, Jim Walton, after announcing last week that he would step down as president of CNN Worldwide.

After years of observing this fact -  that CNN needs new thinking! -  I am too cynical to believe that Walton's admission will bring a change. The most likely result is that nothing will happen. CNN and its corporate owners, Time Warner, are fully satisfied with the money CNN makes as a worldwide news operation operating in all those hotels and airports and cable systems abroad. CNN International is the product, CNN in the US is just a spasm. For the actual product (the CNN of the hotel chain and airport lounge and foreign cable system) to work it has to feel harmless, safe, neutral, like beige carpeting in the convention center.

Just listen to Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, praising Walton... "When Jim Walton assumed thep... more »

"CNN needs new thinking," said its big boss, Jim Walton, after announcing last week that he would step down as president of CNN Worldwide.

After years of observing this fact -  that CNN needs new thinking! -  I am too cynical to believe that Walton's admission will bring a change. The most likely result is that nothing will happen. CNN and its corporate owners, Time Warner, are fully satisfied with the money CNN makes as a worldwide news operation operating in all those hotels and airports and cable systems abroad. CNN International is the product, CNN in the US is just a spasm. For the actual product (the CNN of the hotel chain and airport lounge and foreign cable system) to work it has to feel harmless, safe, neutral, like beige carpeting in the convention center.

Just listen to Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, praising Walton... "When Jim Walton assumed the presidency of CNN in 2003, it was underperforming and earnings were in serious decline. Since then, he and CNN have tripled earnings, doubled margin and delivered annual growth of 15 percent. In his nearly 31 years of uninterrupted and distinguished service to CNN, Jim has been instrumental in growing the business into the financial powerhouse it has become, while establishing the brand as the worldwide leader for television news."

A financial powerhouse growing at 15 percent a year needs new thinking? I doubt it. Bland newsy mush is not a weakness, but a strategic proposition for CNN. They've made their peace with mediocrity and also-ran status in prime time in the US. The fact that CNN is neither Fox nor MSNBC lets everyone feel great about his or her own "serious news person" credentials, and if you under-estimate how powerful that feeling alone is, you cannot get a handle on why this situation persists. They know almost no one watches until there's a big breaking news event, and they know they surrender everything to it and go to wall-to-wall whether there's anything to report or not. They don't care. 

For there to be any movement at CNN, they would have to admit that the View from Nowhere, and "we're not the left or the right-leaning network," and "at CNN, the news is the star" and "the worldwide leader in news" have lost their power to inspire great work. But that cannot be admitted. For structural reasons--the biege carpet that offends no one--and for ideological reasons. The people at CNN think they are better than everyone else in cable TV because they haven't gone left or right. Who's going to tell them they're not? No one has been able to yet, and plenty have tried.

CNN could turn prime time in the US into a laboratory for new approaches in nightly news without seriously affecting its financial performance. It could become truly experimental and keep Jeff Bewkes happy. It could conduct a three-hour fact checking clinic and tell us who the biggest deceivers are in our public life. It could accept third place status and go for prestige by producing original documentaries that actually investigate. There are many things it could do and still make barge loads of money. It won't do any of them. 

Jon Stewart nailed it years ago with his segment. "CNN leaves it there." http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-october-12-2009/cnn-leaves-it-there Years later, CNN is still leaving it there. Tune in years from now and CNN will be leaving it there. The network is in stasis. It's a failure that makes money and makes for self-satisfied journalists. Speculating about how to improve it is idle. ___

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2012-05-01 21:54:59 (0 comments, 3 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

Welcome to Jay's future of news panel. At Baruch College in NYC, Lex and 25th, I am joining with Jeff Jarvis of CUNY and Buzzmachine, Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review, Josh Benton of Nieman Lab, Karen Dunlap of Poynter in a discussion moderated by Baruch's Geanne Rosenberg. Here are some notes I made for the first things I want to say.

What we call old media and new media are converging around a common set of problems, or, as I would call them, struggles.

There's the big one: the struggle for the sustainable public service press: by any means necessary.

There's the struggle to preserve what was dearly won and clearly best about the press we--North Americans! New Yorkers!--built by practicing journalism at a very high level... in many different ways... over a long period of time.

There's the struggle for employment: full time jobs... more »

Welcome to Jay's future of news panel. At Baruch College in NYC, Lex and 25th, I am joining with Jeff Jarvis of CUNY and Buzzmachine, Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review, Josh Benton of Nieman Lab, Karen Dunlap of Poynter in a discussion moderated by Baruch's Geanne Rosenberg. Here are some notes I made for the first things I want to say.

What we call old media and new media are converging around a common set of problems, or, as I would call them, struggles.

There's the big one: the struggle for the sustainable public service press: by any means necessary.

There's the struggle to preserve what was dearly won and clearly best about the press we--North Americans! New Yorkers!--built by practicing journalism at a very high level... in many different ways... over a long period of time.

There's the struggle for employment: full time jobs doing meaningful work.

There's the struggle to make the practice of journalism more open because it has to be more open to thrive online.

I could list many more. We have to reckon with all of them at once. That's the sustainability puzzle in journalism. It faces old and new media equally.

In order to have any hope of succeeding with this puzzle, it pays to distinguish among these three things:

1. The practice of journalism as it evolves and grows and comes into the possession of rising generations.

2. The underlying media and messaging system the practice "runs on." The wires, as it were.

And...

3. The institution of the press, which is a creature of law, a work of culture and a reflection on the society that sculpted that particular press.

The present crisis, in condensed form: Big changes in Two forced disruptions upon One and this in turn is forcing our thinking about Three to evolve.___

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2012-02-16 23:00:53 (12 comments, 26 reshares, 42 +1s)Open 

My students and I just completed a study of ALL the questions asked at the 20 debates featuring the Republican candidates for President. That's 839 total questions. How many times did journalists ask about climate change? Two. How many questions about India as a rising power? Zero. How many about small business? One. (Hey: Aren't the Republicans supposed to be the party of small business?) How many about campaign strategy and the negative ads candidates have been running on each other? Uh... 113. Our package includes the study and several related features. Here's my introduction to it.

My students and I just completed a study of ALL the questions asked at the 20 debates featuring the Republican candidates for President. That's 839 total questions. How many times did journalists ask about climate change? Two. How many questions about India as a rising power? Zero. How many about small business? One. (Hey: Aren't the Republicans supposed to be the party of small business?) How many about campaign strategy and the negative ads candidates have been running on each other? Uh... 113. Our package includes the study and several related features. Here's my introduction to it.___

2012-02-15 17:13:20 (62 comments, 5 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

Some weirdness going on today with the Pulitzer Prize winning fact check site, Politifact. I know the editor Bill Adair, pretty well, and I support what he's doing. I think fact checking and calling out public untruths is something journalists should be doing much more of. The Politifact.com franchise is, in my view, a critically important addition to the news system. This makes criticism of it important, as well. Politifact needs to get this fact checking and "truth-o-meter" thing right. I hope it will. But some strange things happen along the way to that.

Last night Rachel Maddow went medieval on Politifact for the ruling I linked to below. I can see why she reacted as she did. Marco Rubio says a majority of Americans are conservative. Politifact looks into it, and says there's no evidence for that, but a plurality of those who identify as liberal, conservative or moderate... more »

Some weirdness going on today with the Pulitzer Prize winning fact check site, Politifact. I know the editor Bill Adair, pretty well, and I support what he's doing. I think fact checking and calling out public untruths is something journalists should be doing much more of. The Politifact.com franchise is, in my view, a critically important addition to the news system. This makes criticism of it important, as well. Politifact needs to get this fact checking and "truth-o-meter" thing right. I hope it will. But some strange things happen along the way to that.

Last night Rachel Maddow went medieval on Politifact for the ruling I linked to below. I can see why she reacted as she did. Marco Rubio says a majority of Americans are conservative. Politifact looks into it, and says there's no evidence for that, but a plurality of those who identify as liberal, conservative or moderate choose conservative. Since "a majority of" is not "a plurality of" Rubio's statement is false, right? No, says Politifact. It's "mostly true." Huh? Then on Twitter this morning, Politifact responds to me like this: "Jay, our reasoning was that while it was short of a majority, it was still a plurality." To which I said: When you teach your kids what "plurality" means do you say to them, "basically, same as a 'majority,' so don't worry about it..."? I do not teach them that because that would be miseducating them.

For most of the morning I was just baffled by this, but I think I know where Politifact started to go wrong. The "tell" is in the first two sentences... "Liberals may want to argue with Sen. Marco Rubio’s remarks at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. But they don’t have the evidence to argue with this statement: 'The majority of Americans are conservatives.'"

What we see going on here is Politifact straying from its declared purpose--strict factuality, civic exactness--into "needling." It is here anticipating liberal reactions and playing off them. But think about it: if Rubio is wrong to say conservatives are a majority, this should bother conservatives as much as liberals, or at least those who call themselves conservatives and who care about being strictly factual. Which is the proposition Politifact stands for.

Or even those who care about winning! Suppose you want to build a conservative majority in this country. Should you declare your work done because more Americans ID themselves as conservative rather than liberal or moderate? That's not a majority. Your work is not done! Politifact isn't addressing the factual issue so much as tweaking liberals, anticipating their arguments and trying to subvert them.

And that is how it went wrong. If we sketched a thought bubble above Politfact's head on this one, it would read. "Liberals can't stand it, but more people call themselves conservatives than identify as liberals. Watch: they're going to go crazy when we point this out..." The needling factor led them astray. That's how they got to, "Jay, our reasoning was that while it was short of a majority, it was still a plurality."___

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2012-02-14 03:23:33 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

I want to speak to you tonight about someone who is lying about my work. Yes, "lying" is a strong word, but I think it is deserved in this instance. The man's name is Dan Mitchell. He has written for Slate, Fortune, Wired and other places. He is not some yahoo. He is a professional journalist. I have never met Dan Mitchell. I don't know him. But he lies about me and also about Mathew Ingram, a friend of mine and a solid journalist for GigaOm.

Here is his lie...."What all New Media Maximalists share is a default tendency to favor amateurs over professionals. You can tell by examining a wide range of their utterances, over time, what people like Godwin, Jay Rosen, or Matthew Ingram really believe, whatever they might say to the contrary when confronted with the question: They believe that amateur journalists are superior to professional ones, simply by virtue of being... more »

I want to speak to you tonight about someone who is lying about my work. Yes, "lying" is a strong word, but I think it is deserved in this instance. The man's name is Dan Mitchell. He has written for Slate, Fortune, Wired and other places. He is not some yahoo. He is a professional journalist. I have never met Dan Mitchell. I don't know him. But he lies about me and also about Mathew Ingram, a friend of mine and a solid journalist for GigaOm.

Here is his lie...."What all New Media Maximalists share is a default tendency to favor amateurs over professionals. You can tell by examining a wide range of their utterances, over time, what people like Godwin, Jay Rosen, or Matthew Ingram really believe, whatever they might say to the contrary when confronted with the question: They believe that amateur journalists are superior to professional ones, simply by virtue of being amateurs."

That is reckless and false. I don't think amateur journalists are superior to pros, and I have never made a statement like that in my writing or speaking life.

Mitchell cannot defend his inflammatory and demagogic claims. He cannot link to anything that supports it, so he doesn't link. He has no quotes, so he doesn't quote. He has no evidence; therefore, no evidence is given. He has no courage, either. That's why his post is not about anything I have said, or Matt Ingram has said.

What I actually believe is that the hybrid forms will prove most workable. That's why I talk about “pro-am” journalism, a term I helped to popularize starting in 2005. Alan Rusbridger of The Guardian calls it the "mututalization" of the craft. Pro journalists and the users work together in the production of high quality editorial goods.

"Pro journalism has never been optimized for high participation," I have written. "But participatory media hasn’t been optimized for quality journalism, either. That right there is the work we need to do." (See http://bit.ly/p5TnoY )

Rather than grapple with what I have actually written on the subject of amateurs and professional journalists (and I have written quite a lot over the years...) Mitchell uses weasel words: "Whatever they might say to the contrary when confronted with the question..." That tells you everything you need to know about the guy. Mitchell is trying to inoculate himself against the protest he knows is coming.

Also revealing is that Dan Mitchell has turned off the comments function at his blog. He doesn't want to hear from anyone else. He wants the freedom to lie about people's work and remain safe in his cocoon. Friends of mine have counseled me to ignore this provocation. And I considered that. But I don't think people should be able to make up stuff and get away with it. Do you?___

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2012-02-14 03:23:06 (33 comments, 9 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

I want to speak to you tonight about someone who is lying about my work. Yes, "lying" is a strong word, but I think it is deserved in this instance. The man's name is Dan Mitchell. He has written for Slate, Fortune, Wired and other places. He is not some yahoo. He is a professional journalist. I have never met Dan Mitchell. I don't know him. But he lies about me and also about Mathew Ingram, a friend of mine and a solid journalist for GigaOm.

Here is his lie...."What all New Media Maximalists share is a default tendency to favor amateurs over professionals. You can tell by examining a wide range of their utterances, over time, what people like Godwin, Jay Rosen, or Matthew Ingram really believe, whatever they might say to the contrary when confronted with the question: They believe that amateur journalists are superior to professional ones, simply by virtue of being... more »

I want to speak to you tonight about someone who is lying about my work. Yes, "lying" is a strong word, but I think it is deserved in this instance. The man's name is Dan Mitchell. He has written for Slate, Fortune, Wired and other places. He is not some yahoo. He is a professional journalist. I have never met Dan Mitchell. I don't know him. But he lies about me and also about Mathew Ingram, a friend of mine and a solid journalist for GigaOm.

Here is his lie...."What all New Media Maximalists share is a default tendency to favor amateurs over professionals. You can tell by examining a wide range of their utterances, over time, what people like Godwin, Jay Rosen, or Matthew Ingram really believe, whatever they might say to the contrary when confronted with the question: They believe that amateur journalists are superior to professional ones, simply by virtue of being amateurs."

That is reckless and false. I don't think amateur journalists are superior to pros, and I have never made a statement like that in my writing or speaking life.

Mitchell cannot defend his inflammatory and demagogic claims. He cannot link to anything that supports it, so he doesn't link. He has no quotes, so he doesn't quote. He has no evidence; therefore, no evidence is given. He has no courage, either. That's why his post is not about anything I have said, or Matt Ingram has said.

What I actually believe is that the hybrid forms will prove most workable. That's why I talk about “pro-am” journalism, a term I helped to popularize starting in 2005. Alan Rusbridger of The Guardian calls it the "mututalization" of the craft. Pro journalists and the users work together in the production of high quality editorial goods.

"Pro journalism has never been optimized for high participation," I have written. "But participatory media hasn’t been optimized for quality journalism, either. That right there is the work we need to do." (See http://bit.ly/p5TnoY )

Rather than grapple with what I have actually written on the subject of amateurs and professional journalists (and I have written quite a lot over the years...) Mitchell uses weasel words: "Whatever they might say to the contrary when confronted with the question..." That tells you everything you need to know about the guy. Mitchell is trying to inoculate himself against the protest he knows is coming.

Also revealing is that Dan Mitchell has turned off the comments function at his blog. He doesn't want to hear from anyone else. He wants the freedom to lie about people's work and remain safe in his cocoon. Friends of mine have counseled me to ignore this provocation. And I considered that. But I don't think people should be able to make up stuff and get away with it. Do you?___

2012-01-18 15:24:48 (23 comments, 23 reshares, 43 +1s)Open 

A Brief Theory of the Republican Party, 2012

I don't do political commentary. This piece--a departure from my normal work--will demonstrate why...

When I say brief, I mean 56 words. Here's it is:

A Brief Theory of the Republican Party: 2012:
In so far as a political party in the United States can "decide" anything, the party decided not to have the fight it needed to have between reality-based Republicans and the other kind. And so it is having that fight now, during the 2012 election season, but in disguised form. The results are messy and confusing.

Given the state of our political discourse, one should expect to be misunderstood with a theory like this. There is no way to prevent that, but I will try to qualify some of the key phrases.

1.) When I say "reality-based Republicans" I mean those who recognize the danger... more »

A Brief Theory of the Republican Party, 2012

I don't do political commentary. This piece--a departure from my normal work--will demonstrate why...

When I say brief, I mean 56 words. Here's it is:

A Brief Theory of the Republican Party: 2012:
In so far as a political party in the United States can "decide" anything, the party decided not to have the fight it needed to have between reality-based Republicans and the other kind. And so it is having that fight now, during the 2012 election season, but in disguised form. The results are messy and confusing.

Given the state of our political discourse, one should expect to be misunderstood with a theory like this. There is no way to prevent that, but I will try to qualify some of the key phrases.

1.) When I say "reality-based Republicans" I mean those who recognize the danger in trying to make descriptions of the world conform to their wishes. By the "other kind" I mean those who don't. Or: members of the Republican coalition who exhibit certain behaviors F.A. Hayek wrote about in 1960. This quotation was dug up by Chis Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science. It is from Hayek's essay, "Why I am Not a Conservative:"

"Personally, I find that the most objectionable feature of the conservative attitude is its propensity to reject well-substantiated new knowledge because it dislikes some of the consequences which seem to follow from it – or, to put it bluntly, its obscurantism. I will not deny that scientists as much as others are given to fads and fashions and that we have much reason to be cautious in accepting the conclusions that they draw from their latest theories. But the reasons for our reluctance must themselves be rational and must be kept separate from our regret that the new theories upset our cherished beliefs. I can have little patience with those who oppose, for instance, the theory of evolution or what are called “mechanistic” explanations of the phenomena of life because of certain moral consequences which at first seem to follow from these theories, and still less with those who regard it as irrelevant or impious to ask certain questions at all. By refusing to face the facts, the conservative only weakens his own position."

2.) Readers will want to know what I have in mind when I refer to "members of the Republican coalition who do not recognize the dangers of trying to make descriptions of the world conform to their wishes." These four examples capture the tendencies I'm talking about, but it's the tendencies I'm talking about, not the examples! Still, here they are: The Birthers, a relatively "fringe" group who had a nice run for a while, though they were ultimately put down; global warming denialism, which is fast becoming a mainstream Republican position; the debt limit fight in the summer of 2011, which House Republicans started (so it's difficult to say that was "fringe...") and the claim that President Obama is actually a socialist, which is so common on the right as to almost sound banal these days.

Now it's not just that those things happened. It's that the people willing to believe that Obama wasn't born in the U.S.... that global warming isn't happening and the evidence for it has been faked by scientists with a political agenda... that the Congress could refuse to raise the debt limit and thereby send a message about fiscal discipline without wreaking havoc for the U.S. economy... or that the President isn't a mainstream liberal who believes in a vigorous role for government within an economy dominated by the private sector, but rather a full-on socialist who would if he could dismantle the system of lightly-to-tightly regulated capitalism that presidents of both parties have supported since the close of World War Two... these people vote, they volunteer, they donate money, they form organizations that are part of the fabric of the Republican party, they get elected to office, they hold hearings in Congress to make their points, they talk on the radio and try to influence other Republicans, they attack reality-based Republicans as apostates-- and in all these ways they loom larger and larger within the party.

3.) For a representative figure among reality-based Republicans I would go with David Frum, the former speechwriter for George W. Bush and a conservative who cannot stomach what has happened to his party. But rather than become a Democrat or claim some sort of ideological conversion, Frum has taken up his pen, as with: "When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?" There he writes:

"Few of us have the self-knowledge and emotional discipline to say one thing while meaning another. If we say something often enough, we come to believe it. We don’t usually delude others until after we have first deluded ourselves. Some of the smartest and most sophisticated people I know—canny investors, erudite authors—sincerely and passionately believe that President Barack Obama has gone far beyond conventional American liberalism and is willfully and relentlessly driving the United States down the road to socialism. No counterevidence will dissuade them from this belief: not record-high corporate profits, not almost 500,000 job losses in the public sector, not the lowest tax rates since the Truman administration. It is not easy to fit this belief alongside the equally strongly held belief that the president is a pitiful, bumbling amateur, dazed and overwhelmed by a job too big for him—and yet that is done too."

Frum again:

"Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics. Outside this alternative reality, the United States is a country dominated by a strong Christian religiosity. Within it, Christians are a persecuted minority. Outside the system, President Obama—whatever his policy errors—is a figure of imposing intellect and dignity. Within the system, he’s a pitiful nothing, unable to speak without a teleprompter, an affirmative-action phony doomed to inevitable defeat."

Because he wouldn't stop with this kind of thing ("a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts...") Frum was dismissed from his position at the American Enterprise Institute, a leading Republican think thank, and dropped from further appearances on Fox News, though the network never announced or explained that decision. Frum is also a despised figure in the conservative blogosphere, where it is assumed that the reason he talks this way is that he wants liberals to love him. My point is that Frum is willing to have the fight that the rest of his party did not want to have.

4.) F.A. Hayek is an intellectual god within the conservative moment. David Frum was a good soldier and solid citizen who worked in a Republican White House. My purpose in quoting them is to underline that what matters about the flight from reality within the Republican coalition is that it's an internal struggle. What liberal college professors like me think about it is irrelevant to the outcome of that struggle. What happened to David Frum matters; what I say about it does not. Reality-based Republicans will either realize the threat to their existence and fight it out with the other kind of Republican, or... they won't. So far they haven't. That's a mistake. It's bad for the country, it's bad for the political system, it's bad for the Democrats (because it breeds complacency and arrogance in the opposition) and it's catastrophic for the Republicans as a governing party.

5. So I'm not saying that the Democrats and progressives are the ones who are in touch with reality, while conservatives and Republicans are not. (But I guarantee you some will read it that way.) I'm saying that the tendency toward wish fulfillment, selective memory, ideological blindness, truth-busting demagoguery and denial of the inconvenient fact remains within normal trouble-making bounds for the Democratic coalition. But it has broken through the normal limits on the Republican side, an historical development that we don't understand very well. That is, we don't know the reasons for it, why it happened when it did, or what might reverse it. (We also need to know the degree to which it is a global phenomenon among conservative parties in mature democracies, or an American thing.) Political scientists: help!

6. Mitt Romney, the favorite to win the Republican nomination for president in 2012, is a reality-based Republican who cannot run as a reality-based Republican because he thinks he cannot win that way. Jon Huntsman's campaign is the proof of that calculation. All the candidates, including Romney, have to make gestures toward the alternative knowledge system, with its own facts. Overlaid on this pattern are the normal tensions between more ideological conservatives and what the press calls moderates, the usual conflicts among the libertarian strain, the corporate Republicans and the social conservatives. Journalists feel comfortable talking about these. They have no acceptable language for discussing reality-based Republicans vs. the other kind. So they don't. The result is a confusing mess.___

2012-01-04 01:09:15 (3 comments, 7 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

Let me know if this helps you make sense of Iowa Caucus coverage tonight. I wrote it in an effort to be useful.

Let me know if this helps you make sense of Iowa Caucus coverage tonight. I wrote it in an effort to be useful.___

2011-10-02 23:22:53 (13 comments, 15 reshares, 30 +1s)Open 

NPR has a new CEO. He's the head of Sesame Street. In his blog post on the decision, +Brian Stelter of the New York Times writes, "NPR, formerly known as National Public Radio, has the benefit of tens of millions of devoted weekly listeners and a robust Web presence. But it is threatened by the prospect of funding cuts, by power struggles between the organization and its member stations across the country; and by the perception that some of its programming has a liberal political bent."

Can you be "threatened" by a "perception?" I guess maybe you can. But if you can, then I would say that NPR is equally threatened by 1.) the perception that it can be rolled or intimidated, especially after forcing its last CEO to resign in part because right wing trickster James O'Keefe pulled a culture war stunt that worked, and 2.) the perception that it's increasingly... more »

NPR has a new CEO. He's the head of Sesame Street. In his blog post on the decision, +Brian Stelter of the New York Times writes, "NPR, formerly known as National Public Radio, has the benefit of tens of millions of devoted weekly listeners and a robust Web presence. But it is threatened by the prospect of funding cuts, by power struggles between the organization and its member stations across the country; and by the perception that some of its programming has a liberal political bent."

Can you be "threatened" by a "perception?" I guess maybe you can. But if you can, then I would say that NPR is equally threatened by 1.) the perception that it can be rolled or intimidated, especially after forcing its last CEO to resign in part because right wing trickster James O'Keefe pulled a culture war stunt that worked, and 2.) the perception that it's increasingly a he said, she said, "safety first" news organization that tends to quote both sides and leave it there. I don't think Stelter can show that his threat is more threatening than the two threats I cited.___

2011-09-16 02:21:08 (27 comments, 38 reshares, 63 +1s)Open 

As a critic of the American press, I consistently have the following problem. Journalists receive my complaints, and change them into the complaints they know how to receive. This just happened between me and NPR, and I thought it was illuminating enough to write a post about it at PressThink. I said "he said, she said" journalism isn't good enough anymore. "We have no idea who's right" doesn't cut it. NPR changed that into: liberal critic wants our reporting to affirm what he believes.

As a critic of the American press, I consistently have the following problem. Journalists receive my complaints, and change them into the complaints they know how to receive. This just happened between me and NPR, and I thought it was illuminating enough to write a post about it at PressThink. I said "he said, she said" journalism isn't good enough anymore. "We have no idea who's right" doesn't cut it. NPR changed that into: liberal critic wants our reporting to affirm what he believes.___

2011-08-25 00:24:31 (7 comments, 5 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

My Australian adventures are about to begin! I will be a guest on 774 ABC in Melbourne, The Conversation Hour this morning. Then I will talk to the ABC Melbourne staff on innovation in journalism. Tonight it's ABC Radio National Late Night Live with Philip Adams. And I am scheduled to be on ABC TV's Lateline with Tony Jones tonight, as well. I was on that show last year when I was here.

The topics? Uh... that's up to them. I'm just grateful for the opportunity to be on the air. (Lateline is patterned after ABC's Nightline when Ted Koppel was doing it.)

My keynote presentation Friday at the Melbourne Writers Festival begins this way....

This talk had its origins in my appearance about a year ago on the ABC's Lateline with Leigh Sales. We were discussing election coverage that looks at the campaign as a kind of sporting event. Every day journalists can... more »

My Australian adventures are about to begin! I will be a guest on 774 ABC in Melbourne, The Conversation Hour this morning. Then I will talk to the ABC Melbourne staff on innovation in journalism. Tonight it's ABC Radio National Late Night Live with Philip Adams. And I am scheduled to be on ABC TV's Lateline with Tony Jones tonight, as well. I was on that show last year when I was here.

The topics? Uh... that's up to them. I'm just grateful for the opportunity to be on the air. (Lateline is patterned after ABC's Nightline when Ted Koppel was doing it.)

My keynote presentation Friday at the Melbourne Writers Festival begins this way....

This talk had its origins in my appearance about a year ago on the ABC's Lateline with Leigh Sales. We were discussing election coverage that looks at the campaign as a kind of sporting event. Every day journalists can ask, "who's ahead" and "what is the strategy for winning?" This perspective appeals to political reporters, I said, because it puts them "on the inside, looking at the campaign the way the operatives do."

I then mentioned the ABC's Sunday morning program, The Insiders. And I asked Leigh Sales if it was true that the insiders were, on that program, the journalists. She said: "That is right." I said: "That's remarkable." She... well, she changed the subject. And let me add right away that Leigh Sales is one of the most intelligent journalists I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

So this is my theme tonight: how did we get to the point where it seems entirely natural for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to describe political journalists appearing on its air as... "the insiders?"___

2011-08-23 00:44:53 (2 comments, 3 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

Preview....

http://www.theage.com.au/business/media-and-marketing/multimedia-messenger-20110806-1igin.html


The public revulsion at the phone hacking revelations has shifted that power in Britain. But Rosen says the same shift has not happened in Australia. He caused a controversy recently with a little tweet which read: ''If the story of criminal intimidation tactics at News Ltd in Australia ever came out, today's events in the UK would look different.''

Rosen refuses to say what he meant by this. ''It's not up to me to make it public because I'm not a participant,'' he says. ''I said it because I think that people in Australia are extremely intimidated by the Murdoch forces, and journalists especially, and they need to start speaking up. There is just too much silence and deference and fear and intimidation... more »

Preview....

http://www.theage.com.au/business/media-and-marketing/multimedia-messenger-20110806-1igin.html


The public revulsion at the phone hacking revelations has shifted that power in Britain. But Rosen says the same shift has not happened in Australia. He caused a controversy recently with a little tweet which read: ''If the story of criminal intimidation tactics at News Ltd in Australia ever came out, today's events in the UK would look different.''

Rosen refuses to say what he meant by this. ''It's not up to me to make it public because I'm not a participant,'' he says. ''I said it because I think that people in Australia are extremely intimidated by the Murdoch forces, and journalists especially, and they need to start speaking up. There is just too much silence and deference and fear and intimidation surrounding the Murdoch empire in Australia, and the only people who can change that are not journalism professors from New York, but people who know about what goes on.''

News Ltd spokesman Greg Baxter said he was unaware of any ''criminal intimidation tactics'' at the company, and if Rosen had any evidence he was obliged to tell the company, the police or the Press Council.

''It's an unsubstantiated slur on the company,'' Baxter said. ''It seems ironic he is exhibiting a complete lack of professionalism by tweeting something like this without substantiating it.''___

2011-08-23 00:21:58 (19 comments, 2 reshares, 37 +1s)Open 

Jeff Jarvis has suggested I use Google+ as a kind of travelogue for my visit to Australia, where I will give a bunch of talks and interviews. I may follow his suggestion, if there is interest. (This is being posted from 28,000 feet on my way to Melbourne,) I will be giving a keynote address at the Melbourne Writers Festival on "why political coverage is broken." And I anticipate a lot of discussion about the Murdoch forces and the culture of News Corp. (which owns 70% of the press in Oz) especially after this tweet... http://t.co/HBeP61y which has already drawn a response from News Ltd, and this piece in the Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/19/rupert-murdoch-phone-hacking So how 'bout it, Google+? Is there interest out there in my dispatches from Australia?

Jeff Jarvis has suggested I use Google+ as a kind of travelogue for my visit to Australia, where I will give a bunch of talks and interviews. I may follow his suggestion, if there is interest. (This is being posted from 28,000 feet on my way to Melbourne,) I will be giving a keynote address at the Melbourne Writers Festival on "why political coverage is broken." And I anticipate a lot of discussion about the Murdoch forces and the culture of News Corp. (which owns 70% of the press in Oz) especially after this tweet... http://t.co/HBeP61y which has already drawn a response from News Ltd, and this piece in the Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/19/rupert-murdoch-phone-hacking So how 'bout it, Google+? Is there interest out there in my dispatches from Australia?___

2011-07-29 15:05:36 (31 comments, 5 reshares, 38 +1s)Open 

Were any of you aware that I am a "strident" leftist who only wants to help Obama win; that I am actually a fan of media bias and want it to increase as long as it helps the communist par... sorry, the American left; that I have no valid intellectual purpose in criticizing "he said, she said" journalism, phony balance and the political reporter's "quest for innocence" (that's what I call it) in the news columns; that I just want my political preferences adopted as pure truth and if you don't see it that way-- well, then you must be insane? Did you know this about me? Well, you can read all about it in Murdoch's Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904800304576474234008959732.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Were any of you aware that I am a "strident" leftist who only wants to help Obama win; that I am actually a fan of media bias and want it to increase as long as it helps the communist par... sorry, the American left; that I have no valid intellectual purpose in criticizing "he said, she said" journalism, phony balance and the political reporter's "quest for innocence" (that's what I call it) in the news columns; that I just want my political preferences adopted as pure truth and if you don't see it that way-- well, then you must be insane? Did you know this about me? Well, you can read all about it in Murdoch's Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904800304576474234008959732.html?mod=googlenews_wsj___

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2011-07-24 01:45:39 (12 comments, 10 reshares, 39 +1s)Open 

A lot of you have not seen this. The popular curation site, The Browser, has a "five books that shaped your discipline" feature in which they interview authors. They asked me to do one. So I asked them, "Can I do five URLs instead?" They said: sure! So here's the interview with me: five URLs you need to absorb to get where I'm coming from on the transformation on journalism. http://thebrowser.com/interviews/jay-rosen-on-journalism-internet-age?page=full

A lot of you have not seen this. The popular curation site, The Browser, has a "five books that shaped your discipline" feature in which they interview authors. They asked me to do one. So I asked them, "Can I do five URLs instead?" They said: sure! So here's the interview with me: five URLs you need to absorb to get where I'm coming from on the transformation on journalism. http://thebrowser.com/interviews/jay-rosen-on-journalism-internet-age?page=full___

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2011-07-20 14:05:21 (28 comments, 21 reshares, 47 +1s)Open 

Let's see how this works. I expanded a tweet that went viral yesterday into a piece for The Guardian. My preferred title for it was, "A Brief Theory of News Corp." The Guardian wanted to change that to something more conventional. Anyway, what do think of the theory? Plausible? http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/19/rupert-murdoch-phone-hacking

Let's see how this works. I expanded a tweet that went viral yesterday into a piece for The Guardian. My preferred title for it was, "A Brief Theory of News Corp." The Guardian wanted to change that to something more conventional. Anyway, what do think of the theory? Plausible? http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/19/rupert-murdoch-phone-hacking___

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