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Citizen Journalism Expert Jay Rosen Answers Your Questions 42

Posted by Roblimo
from the mainstream-media-is-quaking-in-its-boots dept.
We posted Jay Rosen's Call for Questions on September 25. Here are his answers, into which he's obviously put plenty of time and thought. This is a "must read" for anyone interested in the growing "citizen journalism" movement either as a writer/editor or as an audience member -- and please note that Rosen and many others say, over and over, that one of the major shifts in the news media, especially online, is that there is no longer any need to be one or the other instead of both.


1) Where do you see newspapers' role in this?
by Stick_Fig


First off, my credentials: I'm the former employee of an experimental newspaper, Bluffton Today, located in Bluffton, South Carolina. It's an exciting place, let me tell you. The focus has been on reverse publishing but at the same time tempering blogs with traditional journalism. The staff still writes articles; they still edit heavily. They use the web only to the degree where it doesn't dip into libel and slander and builds on its strengths. My question to you is, do you think Bluffton is on the right track? It felt like, in the 15 months I was there, they definitely were, but I'm a biased party. I left thinking, "If only newspapers did more of this..." I know what I'm betting the farm on in my career, and it isn't tired, boring, traditional journalism. It isn't the straight and narrow of blogs, either. Rather, I feel that it's important to look at both sides and find how they can work together, because God knows there's some 60-year-old editor somewhere who won't look at Bluffton as anything more than a gimmick. I'm gonna be that guy in the newsroom fighting the good fight to get more untraditional voices into the the paper in more places than the editorial page.

Rosen:

Bluffton Today (Bluffton, SC is near Hilton Head Island) did several things that were important to try in 2005. They said the editorial engine would be the online edition; it would "produce" the printed paper. This is the opposite of how newspapers did things for the first ten years of their Web lives. They just re-purposed the content from the print edition, and called that an "online newspaper."

By reversing what's primary in production you change head sets in the newsroom because a professional newsroom engineers everything--including the talents of its employees--around the production ordeal. The "daily miracle" it was once called, because making the newspaper required such a fantastic act of just-in-time coordination. Many things had to be routinized for the miracle to occur. (Including ideas about journalism and the user's place in it.)

Steve Yelvington of Morris Digital Works, who worked on the Bluffton Today site, called it an "inversion" because content would flow from the Web to print rather than vice versa. The editorial engine should be the more interactive one, in which more of the community can participate. The goal was a virtuous circle. "Community conversation feeds professional journalism. Journalism feeds conversation. And around, and around." I think there is something to that idea.

How well it works is for people in Bluffton to address. I like that Bluffton Today tried to go Lessig on the news industry. It ditched the read only platform and re-built on read/write. Yelvington said at the launch: "Everyone gets a blog. Not just staffers, but everyone in the community. LeMonde (France) and the Mail and Guardian (South Africa) are doing this, too." Giving everyone a blog may be an obvious idea. But it's a different track. "Everyone gets a photo gallery. Everyone can contribute events to a shared public community calendar...." The site was built on Drupal technology. It had free classifieds. It was different.

If the experience of doing Bluffton Today has tempered some of that initial boldness, that's as it should be. I'm not surprised that the staff still writes articles; they still edit heavily. A web-to-print, highly-interactive, low barrier to entry, read-write, everyone-contributes newspaper is still a daily production headache. Articles, photos, headlines, and ads have to come together. Unedited, the site would have almost no value, although it can have unedited parts with high value.

"It isn't tired, boring, traditional journalism. It isn't the straight and narrow of blogs, either. It's important to look at both sides..." I agree with that, Stick. My new adventure, NewAssignment.Net, is a hybrid site for that reason. (Pros and amateurs collaborate on reporting projects.) In January of 2005 I wrote Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over for the same reason.

Bluffton today was a first wave attempt at innovation. Today initiatives like that face some second wave facts. Bringing capacity online does not itself create activity, so if you're counting on user activity, you better come with more than nifty new capacity. Create more writers and suddenly you may need more editors. "The conversation feeds journalism, journalism feeds the conversation" is a powerful idea, but we are several steps away from knowing how it works to create a live, intelligent filter in the newsroom.

There's just a long way to go. But yeah, you were on the right track working for those guys. Deeply so.

2) How to Get More Respect
by NewYorkCountryLawyer

I am convinced that online media have made a huge contribution to getting out the truth when the corporate media are seeking to suppress the truth. While there are a growing number of people aware of this phenomenon, reports in the 'blogosphere' just do not get the same respect and currency received by reports in the 'major' or 'corporate' media. What do we, as a community, need to do to enhance the respect internet journalists receive in the world at large?

Rosen:

Well, "suppressing" the truth is not how I see the failures of modern journalism, or of our current press. I think it's bigger than that.

Bob Woodward, who is in the news this week, is at the top of the reporting game, an industry unto himself. In two books, Bush at War and Plan of Attack, he failed to tell the truth about the Bush White House because his methods were not up to the obstacle they met: an administration that had broken through all the reality checks normally placed on a president and his closest aides. One by one these measures came under abnormal stress. The policy-making process used by presidents got subverted. The normal channels for sounding out opinion were just disowned. The intelligence community came under extreme stress when asked to supply facts for a decision already made.

A Congress controlled by the same party was expected to go along, which meant accepting the president's definition of reality. Oversight got evacuated. The normal tensions with the press were driven deeper: keep them back, keep them out, tell them nothing, tear them down. If someone does break a story from inside you immediately punish and isolate anyone who spoke to the reporter. You make them disown their words. You make them repent.

This is the story Woodward missed because he got inside it, so to speak. Ron Suskind, one of the few in Washington who did not miss that story, called it "the retreat from empiricism." To me, it's the big narrative yet to come out about the Bush White House. Attack Without a Plan was too crazy to be credible to Woodward. So he wrote Plan of Attack instead. I haven't read his new book yet, just the reviews and excerpts. But from early accounts, State of Denial is his attempt to get back the ground he lost, despite having the best access.

Woodward didn't "suppress" the story. Rather, he couldn't imagine it. Those are the kinds of failures that interest me. Sometimes things are suppressed. Often, the truth eludes professional journalism because no one thought to look for it. I welcome your question, What do we, as a community, need to do to enhance the respect internet journalists receive in the world at large? My first answer is: we have to look for it.

You know how, when you've really mastered something and there's a news account of it, the news story will invariable get several (basic) things wrong? Eliminate the several things and respect will rise. If you want to inform the world of something, grok it before you rock it is a good simple rule.

Correct ourselves early and often. Correct the reporting in the major media, early and often. Fact check your own ass first, then your neighbor's. We should major in transparency; the "major" media will take a minor in that. Diversity of outlook in the reporters ultimately improves the reporting. The blogosphere has advantages there, especially as it does more reporting.

I think we have to accept that Big Media, which isn't going anywhere, is society's default legitimacy-distribution machine. But that doesn't mean it works well. The machine itself can lose legitimacy without exactly falling apart. If you're an upstart publisher of news and you suck at it, Big Media will try to ignore you. If you're an upstart publisher of news and you're really good at it, Big Media will try to ignore you. Then when you assume the shape of a writes-itself story--first bloggers to go to the political conventions!--Big Media will over-cover you, spreading a small bit of understanding over lots and lots of stories. Six months later it's time to debunk the trend they missed, then over-hyped and finally misdescribed. It's not personal. It's protective. It's also cheaper than figuring out what's going on.

We can win a lot of points for Net journalism just by being the opposite of that.

3) What about mob-rule journalism?
by Chas


What sort of safeguards are in place to do fact-checking and prevent false/obviously slanted mob-rule style reports from being propagated as fact?

Rosen:

People hear phrases like "an experiment in open source reporting" and they see it immediately: What's open to the wisdom of the crowd is vulnerable to the actions of the mob. Wanting to be helpful, the volunteer may slant reports without realizing it. Through the portals marked "citizen," the paid operative can also go. How do you prevent all of that?

To me this is a puzzle with many pieces. It won't have one solution; it will take many overlapping systems working together. I can't tell you--yet--how we're going to build a fact-checking and verification system into NewAssignment.Net. But I can tell you that the site will fail without one, so we'll have to try to figure it out, with help from a lot of people. To simply pass along unchecked reports received from strangers over the Net would be fantastically dumb. To discount the possibility of people trying to game the system would be dumb, too; the more successful the site is, the more probable the gaming is. Not to mention spam, duplication, all kinds of junk.

What sort of safeguards are in place? Here are my answers so far. You tell me what is missing or cracked in this foundation:

One: The editors are full time on it. Assignments flow through editors several times before they are published by NewAssignment.Net. That's the pro-am way. It's an editor's job not to be gamed, not to publish bum facts. Everything that goes out has the editor's name on it. It's not an answer to everything--this reliance on "good editors"--but it's a proven system, a simple one, and a start.

Two: Users Self-Police. I'm not sure "community" is the right word for the eventual users of New Assignment. People use that term too loosely, in my opinion. But if NewAssignment.Net develops a base of active, loyal and intelligent users, it's not unreasonable that they can help police the site, especially if they understand that verifiying information and preventing fraud are basic to everything we're trying to do. And so a second answer, after editors, is a culture among users: catch errors, catch mistakes, catch fraud and manipulation. A mob mentality has to be met by something stronger; if you attract the right kind of users, that can happen. It would be foolish to think it will just because you're counting on it.

Three: Given enough eyeballs, all facts can be checked. I think there is every chance of developing a special subgroup of users who are effective fact checkers of the larger base of contributors, including new and casual contributors. One thing we are definitely going to do is see whether retired journalists and ex-journalists will volunteer to work with other natural born sticklers and operate our fact-checking system, which not only has to work, but eventually be better than industry standard. I don't know yet what that system will look like, or how systematic it will be. One of my advisers is interested in this puzzle and working on some ideas, assisted by a professional fact checker who emailed me offering to help. That's how we are going to solve this. Social scientists call it "muddling through."

Four: The site itself has to make verification easy. I mean in the way it is built and meant to operate. For example, editors have to be able to sort the raw from the initially verified from the double checked. This is one of the challenges for the developers of the New Assignment site, which will be Chapter Three. It's a new partnership--here's an about page for them--formed by Zack Rosen, who is my nephew, one of the originators of Dean Space and the co-founder of CivicSpace on the Drupal platform; and Josh Koenig, a co-founder of DeanSpace who started Music for America, a non-profit. They are both Drupal developers, active in that community. The third partner is Matt Cheney, who is trained as a librarian and worked as a researcher at National Center for SuperComputing Applications.

They're going to build the site with open source tools. Josh Koenig has a post up about the New Assignment project. It promises an Open Practice model: "posting tutorials, video screen casts, interviews, and write ups as our own work progresses and as we research others." Verification and fact-checking have to become open practices themselves. The developers understand that.

Five: The one percent rule.. Experience suggests a small slice of users will do most of the volunteer work. According to the one percent rule in social media, which is more of a tendency than a law, "if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will 'interact' with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it." This bears on the verification puzzle because we're not talking about "checking" vast hordes of people. If regular contributors provide most of the contributions, their reputations for reliability can accumulate at the site. In a well-designed system that will happen.

Six: How have others solved the problem? You tell me: has creating a reliable system of volunteer contributors ever been faced before on the Web? Did it prove unsolvable? I would expect NewAssignment.Net to look at prior cases first and find the key lessons.

4) Money
by truthsearch


Do you believe that as money flows into civic journalism that it'll change the equation? Obviously there are some people who's primary goal is to become famous and/or make money through more open journalism. Will the large community of contributors flush out those with less altruistic intentions? I guess I'm really asking will civic journalism be self-correcting as it gets bigger? Or is there a way it may become just as corrupted as much of the current mainstream professional journalism?

Rosen:

I doubt there's any incorruptible system, just different kinds of pressures, with greater and lesser freedoms for the journalists involved. We can certainly hope for a self-correcting system, but it's not likely to happen on its own.

There's nothing wrong with seeking recognition for great work. People who want to be become famous or make a salary through the more open forms in Net journalism aren't the enemy. Not at all. But they are going to have to work with users under conditions that build trust and permit collaboration. It's hard for me to see how the bad actors will succeed at that, but I am not discounting it, either.

Here's a site called Sportingo. It says it's a "new type of sports media company," which is "focused on telling the story from the fans' perspective." Users can write articles, which will be "professionally edited." They can rate and comment on articles written by peers.

Sportingo will own all the content published on the site. There are no plans to pay contributors. The company is for-profit. Tal Rozow, the marketing manager, told me that that "Sportingo authors aiming for a professional writing career will be able to benefit from having by-lines appearing on our website." He said he's confident that a strong network of independent sports writers will emerge at the site, and maybe that will happen. But I'm not sure it's a system designed to build trust among all the players involved.

Everyone I have consulted about open source projects of any kind has stressed one thing over and over: the importance of understanding what would motivate people to contribute to the gift economy of the project. You have to get that right, they say. Ultimately I believe a non-profit foundation is a more secure one. If there are profits and they are extracted by the owners, not distributed to co-creators; that's a problem. If there are profits and they go into doing more and better journalism, that's different.

5) What's wrong with other extant examples?
by crush


I'm assuming that you evaluated and rejected some of the other high-profile citizen journalism outfits that predate the founding of your own project. Off my head I can think of:

* The Indymedia network is one of the longest standing examples of an attempt to have a large citizen journalist network.

* The Pacifica Network (especially the Democracy Now show)

* The New Standard

What was it that you found lacking in the above and why did you decide to start a new project instead of reforming and adapting one of the above? Do you think that your decision to accept corporate sponsorship (which is rejected by the Pacifica Network) will see your organization's focus inevitably drift toward the anodyne ineffectiveness of e.g. NPR?

(And of course, how could I forget WikiNews?)

Rosen:

There's nothing "wrong" with these prior examples. I admire them all. I was especially pleased to see that the New Standard met its do-or-die fundraising goal last week. That site is an experiment with reader-supported, totally independent, strenuously-factual reporting. High standards of verification are meant to prevail. I think the New Standard has a lot in common with professional journalism, except it rejects the political economy of commercial news media entirely. It's run as a collective among those who do the work. I am thrilled that it will remain around, because we need to try lots of solutions to how to fund serious reporting. Just as I'm thrilled that Independent Media Center and its collectives around the world keep humming. I agree with Chris Anderson that what blogging begat--citizen journalism--Indy Media begat, too.

I didn't "evaluate and reject" the New Standard, Indy Media, Pacifica and Wiki News. Nor is it my place to decide they need fixing. They don't. The people who founded those organizations deserve a lot of credit for creating something new and daring-- and genuinely alternative. They inspired me. So did lots of others. (New West, for example, or Witness.org.) NewAssignment.Net is really about a single proposition: that if journalists and networks of users can report stuff together that neither could easily do alone, the public sphere will benefit and the site will build trust. I think there's room for that.

My decision to accept $100,000 from Reuters means we'll have an editor who can test the possibilities in networked journalism, as Jeff Jarvis calls it. My job is to make sure that Reuters has no influence on that person. The company has said it will have no editorial control, and no claim on the content. I agree: it won't. I think we can persuade users that it works as advertised. But people are free to draw their own conclusions about what the gift means, and I'm sure they will.

6) Plagiarism and Ethics?
by goombah99


Lately there's been a few incidents of Plagiarism in the news, not to mention some wholesale ethical breaches of faked stories (e.g. Blair at the NY times and "a million Little pieces"). But the thing is, the reason those are news is that they are both exceptional and something that is specifically drummed in to any professional journalist not to do. Indeed, breaking this taboo is probably even more of a sin to the the fellow journalists than to the general public because of this entrenched ethic.

Yet we know that on college campuses, where we can measure the phenomenon, plagiarism is comparatively rampant. So evidently the common man cannot restrain himself.

It seems to me this is a serious issue for any new journalism form with a low barrier to entry and a high degree of anonymity for the author. How does this ethos get enforced in such a realm?

A related question is the ethical division of commentary and news. We know that's become a problem in the media for some outlets where management has a thumb on the content. But the traditional news organs, especially newspapers, still refrain for the most part. Indeed, the NY times just went so far as to remove the typeset justification from any article that contained any sort of analysis or opinion, reserving the justified typesetting for only traditional factual journalism stories so the difference is apparent to the reader from the start. How do we reinforce that ethos in the untrained journalist?

Rosen:

When people plagiarize they do it for a particular self-interested reason: to meet a deadline, get an unwanted task out of the way, get their full time salary with limited work. These motivations will probably be rarer in the New Assignment model. Why volunteer for a project only to cheat at it?

"The common man cannot restrain himself." Sorry, I don't trust that kind of language. Beyond that making stuff up is not a way to develop a base of users on the Web; people aren't that dumb! You speak of a "low barrier to entry and a high degree of anonymity for the author." But for most users the higher the anonymity factor for the author, the higher the barrier of trust.

What some people can't seem to get over is that other people can say any damn thing they want on the Internet! How can you trust any of it? is their natural reaction to all open systems. Closed systems--and professional journalism is one--develop trust in one way. Open systems have to do it a much different way. Expecting one to look like the other is unreasonable.

We aren't going to learn much about this puzzle by asking how the "common man" can be trained to imitate his betters in the news media. I refer you to sociologist Raymond Williams, who once said, "There are no masses, there are only ways of seeing people as masses." It is these ways of seeing that are retrograde. But they show up in the most surprising places.

7) Scale
by FuturePastNow


First, I'll admit that I haven't read much about citizen journalism other than Jeff Jarvis' [buzzmachine.com], but as a non-blogger thinking of getting in to it, I was wondering:

Much of the discussion seems to be about getting out from under the control of "gatekeepers" like publishers and media owners. Yet, while the internet is less concerned with money, it has its own form of currency: popularity, in the form of the link.

Doesn't this just turn the highest-traffic sites into new gatekeepers? Especially as the number of blogs increases, the gap between "rich" and "poor" expands?

I suppose what I'm really asking is, it's hard enough to get noticed today- how will someone just starting out get noticed ten years from now?

Rosen:

Ten years from now? Jeez, I have no idea what the world of media access will be like then. But anyone who is just starting out in self-publishing should consult Clay Shirky's Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality, so as not to become prematurely disillusioned by discovering its truths later on.

Certainly there are new gatekeepers. (Slashdot itself is one. But does it work the same way the old system did?) Traffic-wise, there's still rich and poor. (But is this list as static as that one?) Hierarchies have not gone away. (And who said they would?) Inequality has not disappeared. (But did you really think it could?)

You still have to fight to be noticed, good work can still go unnoticed. Life online is not entirely fair, or completely different. There's a new attention economy to replace the old. The sooner we reconcile ourselves to these common sense conclusions, the easier it will be to see what is actually different today.

Here are some things that stand out for me: Amateurs have joined professionals and they own a part of "the press." An audience that was once connected "up" to Big Media but not across to each other is now connected both ways. The cost for like-minded people to locate each other and collaborate has fallen dramatically. The tools of media production have been widely distributed, and broad distribution of content is no longer impossible for small, upstart producers. For professionals, they're not required to affiliate with Big Media in order to operate as a journalist, though most will. They can be stand alones and independents. The people formerly known as the audience (as I call them) are now a productive force to be reckoned with, and Big Media has just started that reckoning. The Net has new ways of distributing attention, which have taken their place alongside the old.

Still, there's a long way to go before we can say that our media system has been made more democratic, responsive and responsible.

8) What impact would this have on national elections?
by StressGuy


The Electoral process seems to be more of a "marketing contest" and marketing takes bags and bags of money. There's commercial time, signs, billboards, radio, etc. Let's face it, a commercial is, at most 90 seconds to tell me why I should vote for you - hardly enough time. So, all we see are glittering generalities or, all to often, "don't vote for the other guy" spots.

If "Citizen Journalism" takes off, do you see this as a way that candidates without the massive financial resources normally required to sustain a traditional campaign could actually compete? Could this make the "third party candidates" a credible threat? Could this actually serve to "level the playing field"?

Rosen:

We should be cautious here. I think the most we can say is that a system that was almost entirely closed and self-sustaining--in which a handful of people raised the money, took the polls, handled the candidates, made the ads, narrated the campaign and talked about the candidates on TV--has been disrupted. The people who ran it are not as confident as they once were in their ability to manage things and get the outcomes they want. Their party has been crashed, but it's not "over." Nor is it "ours."
It's possible that insurgent candidacies--not backed by current players in the system--will have an easier time of it in the years ahead, just as insurgent news providers have more of an opening now. That's as far as I would go on the leveled field.

9) Dilution of Protection
by ObsessiveMathsFreak


How long before corporations and wealthy individuals start employing goons, lawyers and wiretaps, a la HP, to threaten and intimidate citizen journalists with no real legal recourse? If faced with this, should a citizen journalist just back off and let the guilty win? How can the protections now enjoyed by the fourth estate be extended to citizen journalism without diluting them?

Rosen:

As a matter of law and public policy, I think "fourth estate" protections should focus on significant acts of journalism, not people in pre-fab categories or the kind of organization that surrounds the giver of news. All those who are engaged in the act of informing a broader public of what's going on deserve to be under the First Amendment umbrella that protects the press. The press itself is composed of amateur and professional wings.

But that's no answer to goons with lawyers who threaten to sue. Citizen journalists are definitely vulnerable there, which makes you realize why we have big media organizations in the first place. We have to be more creative. Robert Cox, head of the Media Bloggers Association (I am a founding member of the group) has shown that "an orchestrated campaign by bloggers to defend a fellow blogger in what appears to be a frivolous lawsuit" can work. That's encouraging but not a complete answer, either. Legal intimidation will happen, and I'm sure there will be times when the bad guys will win.

10) Blogging
by From A Far Away Land


When asking a primary source for information, I find that telling them I'm doing so to create a report on my blog tends to make them clam up, or continue to be unwilling to provide information that ought to be publicly available. What technique or phrases should I use to convince the interviewee that I both have a legitimate use for their information, and the right to obtain it?

Rosen:

Sometimes you have a right to obtain information from a primary source. Sometimes it's not a matter of your rights but their decision to recognize you and cooperate. If search costs are high for making an informed decision about whether to trust a blogger who shows up with questions, sources will seek to reduce costs by using reputation and even stereotype (bloggers: ugh) as proxies.

I don't think there's a proper technique or a magic phrase that will solve this problem. There's only one solution I can see. Send the guy the URL for the "about" section of your site. That page ought to persuade potential sources that legitimate use will be made of their information. It should tell them what you are up to, and why. The site itself, the reporting and commentary there, is the best reason any source has to cooperate. Ah, but how do you convince them to take the time and look?

There's at least one way. Break a story so that the source's world is talking about it and next time around the source will speak to you-- and go to your About page. I asked Dean Wright of Reuters what the biggest obstacle for NewAssignment.Net will be when it launches. "The same one that the more minor players in the mainstream media have: getting your calls returned," he said. "Then when you complete a project and publish, you may find that other media outlets are reluctant to pick up your stories." The only answer to that is "do some compelling projects that cannot be ignored."

NewAssignment.Net will try to take that advice. It will do stories developed by users into assignments that are given to journalists. It could also do stories developed by journalists and divided into parts for users to assign themselves. (Mechanical Turk meets the Center for Public Integrity.) I hope it will do stories where teams of users and journalists figure out the division of labor together.

Sometimes the network will be the knowledge producer, the journalist the enabler. Other times the journalist will be the producer, and the network the enabler. Pro-am journalism is not inherently better than am-pro. Amateur users could in some cases do it all themselves, with editors watching and giving the green light in stages. Different combinations beg to be tried. It's unwise to say in advance that we know how it will work, or that it can't.
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Citizen Journalism Expert Jay Rosen Answers Your Questions

Comments Filter:
  • Coverage (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hijacked Public (999535) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @10:37AM (#16292399)
    Everyone gets a photo gallery

    A thing I have noticed a lot of, probably due to my profession, are traditional media outlets asking for digital photographs to be emailed to them for help with covering events. Which I have always thought was silly.

    I cannot understand why anyone would email a photograph to a company to help them out. I know why they do it, to see their name in the paper or hear it mentioned on the news, but I don't understand it.

    In the case of Citizen Journalism outlets I can understand the motivation. Maybe question the economy of hosting snapshot collections for 'everyone', given the usefulness of your average snapshot, but this is certainly a much better model.

    • Well, if your photo makes it into print with an attribution, it's not just the satisfaction of getting your pics in print -- it's also another published item in your portfolio. For someone looking to develop their photography or photjournalism career, it can really help -- like having your name, in the code, associated with a FOSS project when you're applying for a corporate developer position.
      • Speaking as a professional photographer, who has had other photographers in his employ, I can assure you that a newpaper clipping of your voluntarily submitted snapshot isn't going to impress me much. Nor would I be impressed if you presented it as part of your portfolio and by way of notation communicated to me that your local news station had used it as part of their story on the local pie eating contest.

        Unless, of course, it is an excellent photograph on its own. In that case I would not need to rely on
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Red Flayer (890720)
          I work in print (magazine) publishing -- and I can assure you that published images do indeed help get to the portfolio review stage for consideration for editorial use, regardless of where published. We use a mix of established and young (& therefore cheap) photographers.

          Also, a lot of young photographers end up shooting for us at a loss in order to get into the magazine -- for FOB stories, we only pay a very small page rate (no expenses) that doesn't come close to covering the expenses of even a sma
    • by daigu (111684)
      There are people that create software [fsf.org], beta test software [microsoft.com], classify images [google.com], submit bug reports [adobe.com] and do a whole host of things that benefit companies. They do it for a wide variety of reasons. One of the best reasons is because often when we help, we are making the world we live in a better place to live and we are helping ourselves.
    • by yelvington (8169)
      Human nature is to compete for scarce resources. Print space is scarce, and people actually compete to get into it. A great example is JPG magazine [jpgmag.com].

      But the Bluffton Today photo galleries are not about that. They're intended to let people share their local, community photos with their physical-space neighbors. I know you can do that with Flickr pools, et cetera, but the local audience there is fairly limited; the newspaper can do a much better job in that particular case.

      From my standpoint, facilitating the
      • I know competition. I also understand photographers wanting to have their photos seen, many very good ones pay for the ability to do so at places like PBase.com. I've had photos published in Lens Work without any direct compensation from the publishers of Lens Work.

        Reagardless, PBase and JPG Magazine and Lens Work are all a world apart from getting your snapshot printed in some sidebar of your local newspaper. The latter is not going to bring you any significant notoriety in the world of professional photog
    • by Raenex (947668)

      I cannot understand why anyone would email a photograph to a company to help them out.

      Why do people submit Slashdot stories? Slashdot makes money, and I bet most submitters get no compensation, despite the Slashdot community griping about the occasional ad-whore.

      The answer is people want to share; it's just human nature. If you're sitting on something that you can't sell yourself, then why not give it to somebody who can? You get the kicks knowing that other people are seeing something you helped

  • Self-correcting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_skywise (189793) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @10:38AM (#16292419)
    "If someone does break a story from inside you immediately punish and isolate anyone who spoke to the reporter. You make them disown their words. You make them repent."

    Okay, but what do you do when a reporter "gets the story wrong"?

    "I haven't read his new book yet, just the reviews and excerpts. But from early accounts, State of Denial is his attempt to get back the ground he lost, despite having the best access.

    Woodward didn't "suppress" the story. Rather, he couldn't imagine it. Those are the kinds of failures that interest me. Sometimes things are suppressed. Often, the truth eludes professional journalism because no one thought to look for it."

    Ahh... you punish and isolate the reporter and force him to repent...

    Got it...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by OakDragon (885217)

      One theory is that Woodward had to do something to get back in the good graces of his peers [bloomberg.com]. Myself, I'm not sure what to make of him.

      It's not like I read his books.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Most citizen journalists (CJs) have unknown credentials. We simply cannot consider some anonymous writer to be equivalent to, say, the phalanx of experienced reporters at the "New York Times".

      Yet, CJs do serve a useful role. They can aggregate information provided by reputable sources: "The Economist", "Washington Times", "Wall Street Journal", etc. This aggregation takes the form of Web links to the relevant articles.

      Also, the CJs can do analysis. In fact, most blogs are chock full of analysis in

    • Maybe I am slow, but I honestly don't understand what you're getting at with this post. Are you saying that Bob Woodward got it wrong with the first two books, or that he's gotten it wrong with his third book? Or are you suggesting that it's unclear which is wrong?

      Reading your post again it seems like you might be suggesting that Rosen's opinion of Woodward is similar to the Bush administration's opinion of its critics. But that comparison doesn't make sense to me. The influence that Rosen exerts is inf
  • Moo (Score:2, Funny)

    by Chacham (981)
    If this was more open journalism, could i edit his answers?
    • by spun (1352)
      You know, Chacham, the whole point of the Internet is that no one knows you're a cow. It kind of spoils it if you start every post with "Moo." ;-)
      • by Chacham (981)
        heh.

        Most people seems to write it before [slashdot.org] the body is written, or worse, make it part of the body [slashdot.org].

        So, moo [slashdot.org] has become my favorite [slashdot.org] usless subject for comments [slashdot.org].
        • Interesting. I try not to make my title a part of the body. That's annoying. I have done it on occasion, but usually I then repeat the title in the body. Mostly, that's for jokes, if you can fit the joke (or most of it) in the title and then give the punchline. But if I'm writing a comment or journal entry, I write the title first. I know what I want to say, and how to summarize it before I start. Sometimes, though, the title isn't a summary so much as an attention grabber.

          Moo is particularly appropriate fo
          • by Chacham (981)
            Moo is particularly appropriate for a null subject, although it should more properly be spelled Mu. Unless you are going for a Friends Joey-esque moo, as in a moo point, you know, like a cow's opinion? The point is moo.

            Heh. Very cute. :)
  • Rosen suggests that the story everyone missed is how this government has distorted reality by bullying journalists, amongst other things. This has got me thinking...

    Bush thinks that the "war on terror" is so important that some of the very principals that our legal system is based on can be ignored.

    It has been a principal of government in the past that the intelligence services are not used on the general public to influence their opinion or voting intentions (at least not in the USA, they can influence peo
    • by Erwos (553607)
      It's not a matter of principle - it's a matter of legality. NSA and CIA (who are the two "big" intelligence agencies) are expressly prohibited _by law_ from operating against US citizens. The FBI could, I suppose, but do they even have resources to do it?

      So, if either the NSA or CIA ever did do such a thing, they would be in hot water, legally - at least as far as I know.

      -Erwos
      • by pubjames (468013)
        So, if either the NSA or CIA ever did do such a thing, they would be in hot water, legally - at least as far as I know.

        Yes, I know. Torture is/was illegal as well. My point is that if Bush thinks he can ignore laws about torture, then he may think he can ignore laws preventing the intelligence agencies operating on US citizens.
        • by Erwos (553607)
          Do you have direct evidence of the president ordering this torture? If so, the friendly folks at the Washington Post might want to take a look at it.

          -Erwos
      • Who said anything about the NSA or the CIA being used to influence people? The Bush administration has been caught paying reporters to print stories [truthout.org] so many times now, I've lost count.

        But Bush ordered the NSA to be used for domestic spying [washingtonpost.com] and that's against the law, why not for disinfo, too?

        Below, you ask when Bush ordered torture. Are you trying to be disingenous, or or you really that naive? He wouldn't order any particular use of torture personally! But if you think he hasn't ordered torture, you haven'
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      Personally I wouldn't be shocked if a scandal broke that various journalists were part of a clandestine "psyops" operation to influence US public opinion with relation to Bush's policies.

      I don't see why you would expect anything so outwardly illegal. Why would you need a national intelligence agency to do this? The system is already set to be gamed. And there's a whole slew of people who know how to do it. After all, there's not really that much of a difference between the messages "stay the course" a

    • Video news releases [wikipedia.org]
      Armstrong Williams [usatoday.com]
      Judith Miller [ajr.org]

      Look for yourself, you'll find more.
  • by BeeBeard (999187)
    We missed the chance to ask him if he's ever had just 25 minutes to plan and write something!
  • The Need for Lawyers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by linguizic (806996) * on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @11:17AM (#16292961)
    Legal intimidation will happen, and I'm sure there will be times when the bad guys will win.
    To me this illustrates the need for good lawyers. It's the corporate lawyers that really give lawyers a bad name, and try to smear other types of lawyers as "do-gooders" or "ambulence chasers" (granted there are a few of those). But the above comment shows that there is demand that needs to be met. There should be some profit in that, even if it isn't as much as representing a big corporation. I live in the same town that John Grisham practiced law in, and nearly everybody is a lawyer here, but nobody seems to be picking up on the fact that protecting freedom of speech can be somewhat profitable as well allowing you to look at yourself in the mirror.
    • by T.E.D. (34228)
      To me this illustrates the need for good lawyers.


      Damn. I have mod points, but where's the option for "-1, Funny"?

      How many times have I thought, "If only this country had more lawyers..."?
  • by greppling (601175) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @11:28AM (#16293145)
    Disclaimer: I am living in the US right now, but only since 1.5 months (but have been visiting plenty of times earlier.) So feel free to dismiss (or mod down...) what I write for a lack of knowledge of US media.

    I think the success of blogging has a lot to do with the anglo-american etiquette of journalism. The separation of factual reporting and analysis and opinion has gone a lot further here than in the German media (picking Germany as a comparison only because that's the comparison I know well, of course).

    A good journalist knows a lot more, and got a lot more impressions, than he can transpire in a strict reporting of fact and current news. In the US, it is considered professional if the journalist restrains himself from transmitting any of these, and instead restricts himself on the mere facts. In a German newspaper article on, say, the situation in Iraq, you will instead find a lot of impressions on the actual situation "on the ground"; the journalist wouldn't be reluctant to include snippets from his own daily life or his situation if they help illustrate the overall situation, and he may explain why he himself feels optimistic/pessimistic/... about future developments.

    Of course, this is getting close (or crossing) the border between facts and opinions, and that's why (as far as I can tell) it is left to op-eds or magazines (Atlantic, New Yorker...) in the US print media. An American journalist would only include a, say, pessimistic view on the future if he can quote someone for it.

    Now replace "situation in Iraq" with any inner-American topic, on which many more people will have insights beyond the current facts and news. With so much of the US main media restricted to factual reporting, there is a lot more space for bloggers, who aren't bound by this strict etiquette, who can pick up views for which you can't find a quote by someone sufficiently official, who can enrich factual reporting with their own insights...

    Btw, this isn't meant as criticism of US media, just an observation.

  • I mean, what with all the grinding, and all.

    The Dean connections, the Q&A about a method of journalism that turns into a multi-paragraph administration-bash, and so on. It's interesting to see discussions of truthiness and fact checking bump up so hard against the idealogical tone being used as examples in the discussion. There's no question that non-traditional channnels of communication are vital to shedding light on media manipulation/limitations (see Dan Rather's clumsiness as initially exposed b
  • Because this article is about Citizen Journalism, I'd like to perform a civil action and report to those of you who may not be aware of a significant upcoming event. This coming Thursday, October 5th, there will be a national walkout/strike/protest demonstrating against the Bush administration.

    These demonstrations are being held in almost every major city in the United States on the same day, If you are interested please read this website for more details [worldcantwait.net]. Here is a listing of local events [worldcantwait.net] if you are inter
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by andphi (899406)
      Quoth the Poster: Mods, considering the nature of this thread topic (growing "citizen journalism" movement) please be kind.

      Why? You're off-topic. Citizens' journalism should not be equated with citizens' activism. Simplify the terms and you get what ought to be axiomatic: journalism should not be equated with activism. The inverse is also true. A journalist's function is not to opine, to analyze, or to lobby. It is to inform - to go places I can't and collect information I might find useful, without violati
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by crush (19364)
        Agree completely. In fact I'd see that post as the kind of thing that makes sites like indymedia unreadable and ushers in the necessity for editorial controls of the type that Jay talks about. Some indymedia stuff is good, but it's swamped with crap spewed out to every available blog, webpage, indymedia by cult-like promoters of "the cause" (no matter what the cause is).
      • journalism should not be equated with activism. The inverse is also true. A journalist's function is not to opine, to analyze, or to lobby. It is to inform - to go places I can't and collect information I might find useful, without violating any standards of ethics, law, decency, or essential privacy.

        I agree that journalistic integrity is a difficult issue. But even the most renowned journalists look for stories that resonate with them personally; that's how they decide if a story is worth telling. They a
        • by andphi (899406)
          Quoth the poster: The primary aim of this demonstration is to bolster support for the upcoming house and senate elections on November 7th.

          That makes more sense, both in terms of aims and timing. Thank you for the clarification on both counts (journalism and the specific protests planned for Thursday). I understood regime change to mean "immediate (dis|re)placement of the current Executive," rather than trying to shape the Legislative (possibly as a counterweight to the Executive), so the whole idea made ver
        • by andphi (899406)
          Also, I hope I didn't negatively impact your karma. If I did, I apologize, though it sucks that I can't restore yours by losing some of mine.
    • Off-Topic (Score:2, Informative)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)
      WTF does this have to do with journalism?

      Please, mods, -1 Off-Topic!
  • by crush (19364) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @12:05PM (#16293681)

    It was interesting to read the very detailed answers given to the questions, but I couldn't help feeling that Jay didn't fully address the second part (and to me the more important) that I asked: namely how will it not be the case that accepting corporate sponsorship (in this case Reuters' $100,000) not inevitably lead to control of the organization.

    Jay answers this by saying that he'll make sure that there's no undue influence brought to bear on the editor. That misses the point that Chomsky (yes, I know hate him if you must but he makes some good points) & Herman make about media censorship, which is that the people that occupy positions in which they know they're funded by big business are RARELY directly censored. Instead most of the time they self-censor [chomsky.info] (see paragraph 4). The Pacifica Radio Network [pacifica.org] made the decision to avoid government or corporate underwriting explicitly because they realised that any normal, reasonable person is influenced by the source of their funding and has it hovering in the back of their mind.

    I like the idea that Jay proposes of having professional editors sorting the wheat from the chaff but believe that although the site may have initial success and credibility it will inevitably be slowly co-opted because of the process of media hegemony detailed by Chomsky and Herman.

    B.t.w. anyone idolizing Bob Woodward should think about this [counterpunch.org] perspective. I think he and Seymour Hersh are prime examples of how well intentioned individuals are unable to make an effective difference within a corporately funded system.

    • You have raised some good points. Another area of concern

      One thing we are definitely going to do is see whether retired journalists and ex-journalists...

      Why the emphasis on former journalists? There are many unknown writers on different blogs who are just as good (if not better) than some journalists today. Riverbend [wikipedia.org], for example.

      Her weblog entries have been collected and published as Baghdad Burning ISBN 0-606-04113-3 (with a foreword by investigative journalist James Ridgeway) and in March 2005 wer

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