Saturday, April 02, 2005

Press Think

I love this 2003 blog posting by Jay Rosen, What's Radical About the Weblog Form in Journalism?

1.) The weblog comes out of the gift economy, whereas most (not all) of today’s journalism comes out of the market economy.

2.) Journalism had become the domain of professionals, and amateurs were sometimes welcomed into it-- as with the op ed page. Whereas the weblog is the domain of amateurs and professionals are the ones being welcomed to it, as with this page.

3.) In journalism since the mid-ninetheenth century, barriers to entry have been high. With the weblog, barriers to entry are low: a computer, a Net connection, and a software program like Blogger or Movable Type gets you there. Most of the capital costs required for the weblog to “work” have been sunk into the Internet itself, the largest machine in the world (with the possible exception of the international phone system.)

4.) In the weblog world every reader is actually a writer, and you write not so much for "the reader" but for other writers. So every reader is a writer, yes, but every writer is also a reader of other weblog writers—or better be.

5.) Whereas an item of news in a newspaper or broadcast seeks to add itself to the public record, an entry posted in a weblog engages the public record, because it pulls bits and pieces from it through the device of linking. In journalism the regular way, we imagine the public record accumulating with each day's news-- becoming longer. In journalism the weblog way, we imagine the public record "tightening," its web becoming stronger, as links promotes linking, which produces more links.

6.) A weblog can “work” journalistically—it can be sustainable, enjoyable, meaningful, valuable, worth doing, and worth it to other people —if it reaches 50 or 100 or 160 souls who like it, use it, and communicate through it. Whereas in journalism the traditional way, such a small response would be seen as a failure, in journalism the weblog way the intensity of a small response can spell success.

7.) A weblog is like a column in a newspaper or magazine, sort of, but whereas a column written by twelve people makes little sense and wouldn’t work, a weblog written by twelve people makes perfect sense and does work.

8.) In journalism prior to the weblog, the journalist had an editor and the editor represented the reader. In journalism after the weblog, the journalists has (writerly) readers, and the readers represent an editor.

9.) In journalism classically understood, information flows from the press to the public. In the weblog world as it is coming to be understood, information flows from the public to the press.

10.) Journalism traditionally assumes that democracy is what we have, information is what we seek. Whereas in the weblog world, information is what we have—it’s all around us—and democracy is what we seek.


These 10 points contain so many fruitful ideas in one spot that I won't try to summarise the implications here but instead will pursue some of the themes in future posts. I spent some time today following some links and reading the comments to this post at Rosen's blog and that was very rewarding too.

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