Rebooting the News #53

In Podcast on May 25, 2010 by Jay Rosen

Gwen Ifill responded to Jay’s suggestion in the Washington Post that “Washington Week” on PBS had run its course after 43 years. Here’s what Jay said: “What is exhausted is the premise of the show: Five insiders (journalists) display their understanding of what other insiders (politicians) did this week for an audience of wanna-be insiders (the show’s assumption about viewers)…”

Here is what she said back

…Occasionally, I glance around and discover I am the best person to tell (or refute) a story. That happened last week when a journalism professor from New York University used the pages of The Washington Post to take a baseball bat to the head of one of things I love best – “Washington Week.”

My first instinct was to ignore it. Fighting against blogs is a lot like trying to stop oil escaping from a blowout preventer – it can go on forever. Hitting that “send” key can get you in deep.

But, upon reflection, I realized that I could use the opportunity to make the case for some of the things I hold most dear about the work I do.

The professor, who apparently also functions as a self-appointed media critic, was one of a dozen folks asked to contribute to the Post’s Outlook section for a special “spring cleaning” feature about things they would toss out….

I defend anybody’s right to comment on the news of the day – whether it is Chris Matthews or Bill O’Reilly or Larry King or Jon Stewart. I even defend the NYU professor, however misguided he might be.

But we don’t all have the same job to do.

I’m not very funny (not intentionally anyway). I’m not very loud. And I hope you never know my opinions. But the reporters I know are very smart. They know why things happen. They know how they happen. And, on a day to day basis, they challenge and question everyone they meet and everyone they cover. Then they, and we, allow viewers to make up their own minds. How’s that for a novel concept?

If what the professor wants is more yelling, there are plenty of places for him to go….

Jay: Notice that she couldn’t even name me, link to what I said, or paraphrase it. And she turned my Washington Post Sunday opinion piece, which ran in the print edition, into a blog post! “Fighting against blogs…” she said.

The Replaceniks! There are people out there claiming Dave is one. And they’re citing this post from Scripting News as proof. “I said that fifteen years ago I was unhappy with the way journalism was practiced in the tech industry, so I took matters into my own hands. And then dozens of people did, and then hundreds followed, and now we get much better information about tech. It will happen everywhere, in politics, education, the military, health, science, you name it. The sources will fill in where we used to need journalists.”

Jay: So Dave… are you a Replacenik? The term means those who either believe that bloggers, citizen journalists, amateurs can easily replace professional journalists or who keep talking about this prospect as if it were constantly being proposed by legions of writers and critics.

Dave: “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

Jay: In other words, “If professional journalists fled the scene or their model collapsed, we wouldn’t have no news. The sources would fill in.”

Dave: Yes… “I read articles in newspapers… and I go, ‘Man, I will miss the day when this stuff isn’t being produced– if that ever happens.” But I also think the new system will have many advantages over the old one. “I think in some ways we will miss what we have.”

Jay: “Based on what you said I have to conclude you are not a Replacenik and Jason Pontin is full of crap.”

Heard of Google’s 20% time? Journal-Register Company CEO John Paton is giving 25% time to a select group of newspaper staffers at JRC, and equipping them with the technology they need to help push the company forward toward what Paton calls “digital first.” (Jay and Jeff Jarvis are on the advisory board.)

Dave: You know where they should start? “What information do our customers want on a regular basis that they are not getting?” Somewhere in there may be a lot of money.

Jay: In other words, you think they should start on the demand side.

“The online equivalent of white flight.” That’s what Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times said about The iPad and app store last week. The Times gave it the title: “The Death of the Open Web.”

Dave: “How would you fact check the statement, that the open web is dead?”…. “They used to say by the time something appears on the cover of Business Week, it’s time to sell.” That’s how I feel about these articles in the New York Times Magazine. “None of this is news!” Take Steve Jobs and his imperious ways. Doc Searls had that story in 1997.

Dave attended a party at Steve Case‘s house on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the founding of AOL. “It was a re-union from the 80s. A chance to see old friends from the tech industry…”

Jay spoke to the World Bank. Well, to the communications officers of the World Bank about four strategies by which powerful people and institutions try to cope with public scrutiny.

1.) Hiding from the press and declining to appear to in public at all.

2.) Impression management, also known as public relations.

3.) Transparency and openness.

4.) Secrecy by complexity amid opaque and sprawling systems.

Here’s the show; we hope you like it; please comment if the spirit rises in you.

4 Responses to “Rebooting the News #53”

  1. Heh, I love that tag line. Jay Rosen – “Self-appointed media critic.”

  2. Hello there! Interesting show. I just discovered it today and listened to a few episodes as I went about my day. I have, thus far, only one critique. (How presumptuous of me!)

    One of you has an instant messaging program or an email alert or something that goes “pling” during the episodes. I find it irritating. I think my roommate has the same whatever-it-is, so every time I hear it my brain starts going into whatever Pavlovian thought process I seem to have attached to it.

    Or, alternately, just ignore me and continue to produce your thoughtful program.

  3. […] the JRC’s ideaLab concept endorses is the best way to create value in a news organization. In the most recent episode of their Rebooting the News podcast, Rosen and Dave Winer discussed the idea — and Winer […]

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