The Wrap-up Session

Jeff Jarvis

  • A range of words heard today:
    • Resistance
    • Concern
    • Curiosity
    • Enthusiasm
  • “Journalism is broken”
    • Who agrees?
    • Are citizens the fix?
  • A recurring theme: control
    • Journalists as the gatekeepers of information
    • Journalists as verifiers
    • Blurred lines
  • What value do journalists add to news?
  • Another theme: teaching
    • Journalists
    • students
    • audience
  • Technology needs to be easy to use
  • Community: It’s all about bringing it back to the level of people
  • Respect/listening/disrespect
    • Do journalists respect their public?
    • Does the public respect journalists?
  • Business
    • Touched upon only slightly in the discussions
  • “I’m a visitor, and I’m grateful that you had me over.”

Jay Rosen

  • When I got involved in public journalism, it started with an
    observation of mine that was shared by a number of others: it’s summed
    up with the word “disconnect” — there’s a perception of disconnect
    between the press and the public
  • Many causes for the disconnect, many symptoms, caused concern
  • We tried to operate on the sense of duty and conscience —
    “experimenting as many peopl ein the movement were doing” — an
    “attempt to reform the official press”
  • Talk to people more; use a citizen’s agenda
  • All an effort to get professional journalists to reach across the divide
  • During that time, I always thought it was about journalists and
    getting them to change. It dawned upon me to change citizens to change
    and move toward the press.
  • Blames himself for lacking the imagination to come to that
    citizen-focused approach, but also says that they also didn’t offer
    grants for citizen-focused efforts
  • Now it’s citizen focused: they’re talking to each other, talking
    to the press, starting their own papers/web sites/radio stations/TV
  • It’s no longer “Are you going to reach out?” but “What are you going to do under the current conditions?”
  • The spread of not only technology, but ideas, has led us to this point in public journalism
  • It’s
    one more chapter in a very long — 300 to 400 years — history of the
    enfranchisement of people: to speak freely, to own property, to worship
    freely, to move freely. “That’s what self-publishing is: it’s
    enfranchisement of people in the media.”
  • The point is not that everyone will do so, it’s that everyone has the opportunity to do so, if they want.
  • The idea is that people can handle the world themselves. “They are competent to understand the world. “
  • Invoked Whitman and Jefferson
  • Lew Friedman is our resident researcher: a social scientist that
    asks questions that journalists normally wouldn’t, and knows how to
    apply tests that they wouldn’t

Lew Friedman

  • “I am a sociologist, and I play one on TV.”
  • It’s how I see the world
  • We’re in a world that consists of networks and institutions
  • The world that Jeff and Jay have described is a world of networks. Anyone that can connect can join, and it’s a fluid world.
  • Institutions are different: they’re filters of knowledge, talent
    and power. A set of people, rules and professional routines. The press
    is an institution. It has become systematically disconnected from the
  • The problem: networks may be extremely open, but they may also be
    extremely fragmented. People can connect, but there can be ways that
    they can connect that make little difference.
  • Power Laws: those that have more, get more.
  • The world of web sites mirrors the network world and the world of
    publishing. There’s a concentration of power. Jeff said that it wasn’t
    true in the blogpshere: he’s right and he’s wrong:
    • Right: A blogger doesn’t have to have all the readers — just
      enough to support what s/he is doing. New knowledge can be formed where
      ideas keep ideas and people out.
    • Wrong: The blogosphere — populated largely by people like
      myself: the symbolic analyst class — people who produce and analyse
      symbols and interpret them for other people. We work at jobs more
      privileged than other people. We need the institution of the press to
      make sense of the world, to distill it. Not everyone knows about blogs.
  • Journalism: “a conversation of democracy”
    • A sphere in which many people talk amongst themselves, and in a smaller degree, to the world at large
  • My hope: to find the relationship between the two spheres.

Every time I hear talk of spheres, I am remind of Gideon Strauss, who talks often of spheres and “sphere sovereignty”.

  • Hoder: Question to canadian bloggers — why aren’t blogs as popular in Canada as they are in the US and UK?
  • David Akin: It’s not that — it’s that it isn’t a big story among Canadian journalists
  • Jim Elve: It’s the fact that we have 10% of the population of the
    US. The market is smaller, so getting x hits here is like getting x
    times 10 hits in the US

  • Gil: For a long time, a lot of us have been trying to create a
    vigorous public square — with a bazaar of info with a lot of vendors
    that retained a civility. We now see fragmentation of the media where
    consumers are choosing their vendor based on whether that vendor
    supports their world view. Isn’t blogging a further fragmentation
    rather than part of a solution to create a public place?
  • Jay: Blogging in and of itself does not solve any problems. It’s
    a matter of what happens when you “sow seeds on fertile ground”. It’s
    what happens when you empower people. It’s the further evolution of the
    media. 3 million people decided that they wanted a page so that the
    whole world could see. Fragmentation? Echo chamber? Yeah. I’m tired of
    it too, and it happens everywhere. The blogosphere is an elite.because
    its people have the skills to use it.
  • Jeff Jarvis: To turn it around, fragmentation is about control.
    Fragmentation is people getting what they want means that. It’s bad
    news for big media. It’s a good thing for consumers.
  • Marti
    Stephenson: Technology has allowed the people to become the press. We
    have been accused of hogging the spotlight. One thing I learned: we
    know more together than we know alone. One concern: a danger that
    blogging become a facility for people to react than come together — to
    fall victim to the same problems that befell media. Invoked James Cox
    from Dayton, Ohio. Are bloggers simply saying “my opinions are right,
    and I’m going to tell you what they are” or are they conversing and
    learning? We must keep true to those roots that keeping people talking
    and learning from each other is what’s important.
  • Nikhil
    Moro: There seems to be confusion between our understanding of blogging
    and participatory journalism. Blogging is a tool of participatory
    journalism, but blogging is not journalism — you cannot define a large
    group of readers…
  • Jeff: Not true — a mass audience is not
    the point. You can do journalism and serve only 10 people. It’s no
    longer the mass market as a mass of niches.
  • David Akin: Isn’t journalism a process?
  • Jeff Jarvis: If it informs the world, it’s journalism.
  • David Akin: The root words of journalism is “journal”. It’s a
    regualr, repeated process. Why do bloggers want to be called
    journalists? Readers decide who journalists are.
  • Jay Rosen: The title “journalist” gets you access. Oftentimes,
    information is witheld from the general public and made available to
    members of the press. I don’t try to define blogging as journalism in
    the abstract, but on a situational basis. It’s not so simple as a yes
    or no question.
  • David Akin: We had an interesting discussion. Is Michael Moore a journalist? Is Bill O’Reilly?
  • Unknown person: Is a journalist accountable? Is a blogger
    accountable? Journalists have all kinds of written self-policing
    mechanisms — do bloggers?
  • Lew Friedman: What was journalism but people writing on
    broadsheets in coffeehouses. That evolved into the press as we know it
    today. If people read you, you’re a journalist. There is a certain
    sense that there are institutions that have resources and credentials
    and are held accountable to certain standards of truth. That, in some
    sense, is the line separating journalistic institutions from bloggers.
    Bloggers are not accountable to the same rules even thought they speak
    in the same public sphere as journalists. This isn’t necessarily bad —
    it speaks to the public right to free speech. The blogosphere expands
    the public sphere and therefore citizen’s right, which I think is
    marvelous. The public is that space in which citizens come together and
    make the rules.
  • Jay Rosen: Reputational capital divides the institution of the
    press from the bloggers. A new blogger starts with zero reputational
    capital, but a new journalist at the Globe and Mail inherits the reputational capital built up from the Globe’s
    long existence, even though s/he has not yet contributed to that
    reputation. Bloggers can build up their reputational capital — but in
    a way that’s different from the way traditional sources get theirs.
  • Len Witt: many of us have cast blogs as an “evil empire”, a “screaming rabble”. It’s no more evil than a town hall meeting.
  • Marti Stepehenson: Bloggers have the same relationship to their
    readers that traditional journalists do. You can have the best public
    service blog in the world, but if it doesn’t create conversation,
    you’re in the same boat we were 15 years ago.

  • Jack Rosenberg: Are weblogs about the public sphere, or small groups?
  • Jay Rosen: They are about the public sphere when they ask the big
    questions. They widen the group of participants in the discussion of
    matters of the nation.
  • Lew Friedman: The fragmentation of the public sphere is not the
    fault of weblogs: the media institutions and parties are not holding
    people together anymore. Public journalism in “the old days” was about
    building and sustaining public participation.

  • Len Witt: This conversation was all possible because of a weblog.
  • Jay Rosen: Thos eof you with weblogs had better write about this conference, otherwise you’re not doing your job!

4 replies on “The Wrap-up Session”

My God, you are a machine. Very impressive. When I do my summary post (not this morning) I’ll just link here for people who want a transcript. 🙂 Very well done.
Ian Welsh

Heh. Likely not. Although your use of it was certainly warranted. (Excuse me while I shudder for a moment.)

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