“The terms of authority are changing in American journalism,” Jay Rosen observed in a long conversation after the opening day of BloggerCon.
For more than a decade Jay Rosen has been a frustrated advocate of people-first, bottom-up “public journalism.” The premise of his project (and his book, What Are Journalists For?) was that, as an act of civic conscience, major media might abandon the celebrity circus approach to covering, for example, presidential campaigns. The idea was laughed at, left for dead after the 1996 season. Yet Jay Rosen never quit, and the spirit burns bright on his blog, PressThink. Today, strangely, he believes we’re in sight of real public journalism–not as a matter of corporate or professional conscience but because: the tools of journalism are being democratized; the costs not just of blogging but of digital radio and television are suddenly minimal; “amateurs” from the Baghdad Blogger to Instapundit have shown a flair for the game; audiences seem to love the new entrants; and major media institutions are having their own independent crisis of confidence and credibility. Jay Rosen’s reading of the New York Times’ internal review of the Jason Blair scandal was that “the Kremlin model doesn’t work anymore,” either with staff or readers. Change is in the wind.
Here’s the summary quote about The Blog Effect:
“Blogs are undoing the system for generating authority and therefore credibility of news providers that’s been accumulating for well over 100 years. And the reason is that the mass audience is slowly, slowly disappearing. And the one-to-many broadcasting model of communications–where I have the news and I send it out to everybody out there who’s just waiting to get it–doesn’t describe the world anymore. And so people who have a better description of the world are picking up the tools of journalism and doing it. It’s small. Its significance is not clear. But it’s a potentially transforming development… I like [it] when things get shaken up, and when people don’t know what journalism is and they have to rediscover it. So in that sense I’m very optimistic.”
Jay Rosen, who runs the journalism program at New York University, has taken his lumps for his reformist vision in the past. His fresh hope is founded on something more than idealism. Listen here.