Capturables from Rebooting the News #10

Just arrived to the office. Lots of stuff I feel like unloading.

On my way here I listened to episode 10 of Rebooting the News. I think it was one of the best shows in the series so far (among the first 10, that is – I have some catching up to do).

Jay Rosen makes two very pertinent connections between the tech world and journalism. The first connection is about bug catching, a very common and appreciated practice in software development, but very under-utilized and unappreciated in journalism.

In software development, everyone acknowledges that you cannot ship a perfect product. There will always be bugs and users are actually thanked for pointing them out. In journalism however, the expectation is that journalist check and double-check before they publish, and then ship a "perfect" product. If a reader points out a mistake or contradiction, typically the journalist either doesn't respond at all, or responds in a defensive fashion. Jay explains it as tribalism.

Blogging seems to allow for a less defensive attitude. Blog posts are perceived as less finished or less perfect, and bloggers seem more willing to correct and update their copy, while acknowledging readers' feedback.

It's an interesting phenomenon to point out and certainly something that needs to be addressed in the "new news system".

The second connection Jay makes is about usability. Why are geeks not better at making things easy to use? Dave Winer says it's because it's so damn hard to do. And it requires a great sense of empathy – the ability to put oneself in the users' shoes. He mentions Martin Scorsese and Marlon Brando.

Jay sees a nice parallel in that journalism is about making it easy for users to user their own democracy, lowering barriers to participate without much prior knowledge. (This is so true and elegant!)

What else? The Church of the Savvy. That's Jay's description of the undeclared religion of the press. Above anything else, journalists will value, remain loyal to and defend their savvy-ness.

Jay's inspiration of the week is Elvis Costello's recording of Nick Lowe's classic, 'What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding'.

Note-to-self: action points:

  1. Check out Jay's tumblr blog – I didn't know he had one, and I was wondering why Google Reader hasn't served me any blog content from Jay lately (I've subscribed to PressThink);
  2. Check out blogtalkradio, which is what Dave is using for these podcasts. I need to figure out a way to produce podcasts easily and economically.

[REPEAT from June 1: Dave built a dedicated site for 'Rebooting the News', at He also created an RSS feed of this podcast series, at And a package of the first ten episodes which he uploaded as a torrent to Mininova at He announced all of this here:]

And don't miss the FriendFeed room either!

Jay Rosen’s most linked-to post, ever

In the first episode (audio) of his podcast series 'Rebooting the News' with Dave Winer, Jay Rosen calls this post, 'Audience Atomization Overcome: Why the Internet Weakens the Authority of the Press', the most linked-to post on his blog, ever.

Jay wrote:

"(…) Take a sheet of paper and make a big circle in the middle. In the
center of that circle draw a smaller one to create a doughnut shape.
Label the doughnut hole “sphere of consensus.” Call the middle region
“sphere of legitimate debate,” and the outer region “sphere of
deviance.” (…)"

Jay argues that journalists in the U.S. will not step outside of the agreed boundaries of what is considered "the political debate". If your coverage stays between "what the Republicans are saying" and "what the Democrats are saying", you're safe.

This phenomenon is not confined to the U.S.

“Rebooting the news” | Dave Winer’s and Jay Rosen’s podcasts

[UPDATE, June 1, 2009: Okay, Dave built a dedicated site for 'Rebooting the News', at He also created an RSS feed of this podcast series, at And a package of the first ten episodes which he uploaded as a torrent to Mininova at He announced all of this here: So, I think my work is done. :-) ]

I'm sure Dave Winer would suggest a better way of doing this, but I'm not a geek and still wanted to collect all of Dave's and Jay Rosen's podcasts on "rebooting the news" in one view. Subscribing to the RSS feed of Scripting News ( helps but shows all of Dave's other posts as well.

See also: Rebooting The News – A FriendFeed room to discuss the weekly Jay/Dave podcast about news and tech

So here comes:

Rebooting the News #10 (May 24, 2009)
Blog post:
"(…) We got this one folks! (…) Topics include: Maureen Dowd of course, the Church of the Savvy, One year of Twitter for Jay. Why is user interface so damned hard? 10 years since Edit This Page. And an inspired choice for Inspiration of the week, Elvis Costello's recording of Nick Lowe's classic What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding.
One of the best Reboots yet, imho.
PS: As usual subscribe in your podcatcher or iTunes. (…)"

Rebooting the News #9.5 (May 19, 2009)
Blog post:
"(…) A 15-minute test-cast that turned into a mini-episode.
Jay asked me to explain why it was so important that the NYT has a River of News.
We're now using the full-blown BlogtalkRadio system, this was just a
test to make sure we knew what we were doing after Sunday's disaster.
However the feed stays the same, you can follow us in your podcatcher or iTunes. (…)"

Placeholder podcast (May 17, 2009)
Blog post:
"(…) I screwed up and lost this week's Rebooting The News podcast.
This brief three-minute solo cast explains what happened and expresses apologies to Jay and everyone for this screwup.

Sorry!! (…)"

Rebooting the News #9 (May 10, 2009)
Blog post:
"(…) Jay and Dave talk about paying for the news, Ted Nelson as inspiration, "Giant Pool of Money." (…)"

Rebooting the News #8 (May 3, 2009)
Blog post:
"(…) Topics: Jay opted out of Twitter's Suggested Users List, he explains why and we discuss. His choice for Inspiration of the Week is Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo. (…)"

Rebooting the News #7 (April 26, 200)
Blog post:
"(…) This week's 40-plus minute podcast with Jay Rosen and myself. (…)"

Rebooting the News podcast for April 19 (April 19, 200)
Blog post:
"(…) A bit of housekeeping — the podcast now has a name — Rebooting the News. Perfect name, cause it's got the technical side with rebooting, and boot is the first part of bootstrapping. And News is what it's all about. (…)"

This week's podcast with Jay Rosen (April 12, 200)
Blog post:
"(…) I spent 40 minutes this evening talking with Jay about news, tech and the future of journalism. As always it was a great learning experience with the NYU journalism professor. (…) At the end of the show I promised to create a room on FriendFeed to post links to stories we'll discuss on future shows. (…)"

Jay and Dave ride again! (March 29, 200)
Blog post:
"(…) Four weeks in a row, the clicking and clacking blogging brothers talk about the reboot of journalism, the news of the week, and a new $1.75 million fund for investigative journalism that Jay is advising. (…)"

Click and Clack the Blog Brothers (March 22, 2009)
Blog post:
"(…) Really enjoying this. Today it was more laughs and less serious. (…)"

Can Twitter save the news? (March 15, 2009)
Blog post:
"(…) Jay Rosen, this week the question of Twitter as an environment for journalism came up. If the outlets of MSM are in trouble and if Twitter is rising, can it fill some of the role vacated by MSM? (…)"

Interview with Jay Rosen (March 8, 2009)
Blog post:
"(…) It's a good idea to check in with Jay on where journalism is at every once in a while, which is what I did this morning. I'm going to try to do these more regularly with people who are on the Friends Of Dave channel, like Jay. We start off talking about curmudgeons, then on to rebooting journalism, Meet The Press, the broken government, and everything related. Jay is really smart, spends a lot of time thinking about things I really care about. I thought the interview came out great. Hope you all listen. 40 minutes. (…) Jay is a professor of journalism at NYU and was my choice as Blogger of the Year for 2008. (…)"

Dugg: PressThink: Migration Point for the Press Tribe | Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen explained on June 26, 2008, why he believes that in the new territory across the digital divide, hybrid forms of journalism, which combine properties of open (amateur) as well as closed (professional) editorial systems, will be the strongest.

(Apology: while I hope this doesn't constitute a breach of "fair use", I struggle to paraphrase Jay's essay in a more compact fashion).

"(…) The First Amendment says to all Americans: you have a right to publish what you know, to say what you think. That right used to be abstractly held. Now it is concretely held because the power to publish has been distributed to the population at large.

(…) The land that newsroom people have been living on—also called their business model—no long supports their best work. So they have come to a reluctant point of realization: that to continue on, to keep the professional press going, the news tribe will have to migrate across the digital divide and re-settle itself on terra nova, new ground. Or as we sometimes call it, a new platform.

(…) And like reluctant migrants everywhere, the people in the news tribe have to decide what to take with them, when to leave, where to land. They have to figure out what is essential to their way of life, and which parts were well adapted to the old world but may be unnecessary or a handicap in the new. (…) This creates an immediate crisis for the elders of the tribe, who have always known how to live.

(…) Today, the press is shared territory. It has pro and amateur zones. (…) Part of it is a closed system—and closed systems are good at enforcing editorial controls—the other part is an open system.

(…) Open systems are good at participation, community formation, and locating intelligence anywhere in the network. They are good at sharing, and getting good at surfacing the good stuff. The two editorial systems don’t work the same way. One does not replace the other. They are not enemies, either. We need to understand a lot better how they can work together.

[UPDATE, August 28, 2008:

In his next blog post, on July 8, Jay Rosen pointed to an interesting additional reference, from Stowe Boyd:

"(...) What the newspapers' management fail to understand is the end of mass:
people simply do not hold with mass identity now that they are free to
find human-scale identity, and once they find it, they will not go
back. Newspapers and other mass media is falling first and fastest
because we are rejecting the ersatz, mass belonging that they offered,
as part of the expansion of the industrial Western democratic ideals. (...)"


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Dugg: PressThink: Filter the Best Stuff to the Front Page: A Demo | Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen wrote on June 16, 2008:

“(…) OffTheBus and NewsTrust.Net ran a little test two weeks ago. It’s a crowdsourced week in review feature for high quality John McCain coverage, June 2 to 9. Here’s the background and results. (…)”

What I find more interesting about this blog post than the content of the experiment or indeed the ensuing US-centric political flame war in the comments is the concept of the experiment, as well as Jay’s reference to Dave Winer’s rivers of news, and the concern that filtering may not keep pace.

(…) The mission of NewsTrust—it’s nonprofit and non-partisan—is to be a “guide to good journalism.” The site offers a “range of tools to help you find and share” the best work.

(…) Sites like NewsTrust take it for granted that expansion in media space
is a good thing. But filtering and forwarding systems must keep pace.

(…) In this connection, I point you to NewsJunk.Com, a new site. Dave Winer, with some co-conspirators, created a river of news intended for serious users of political coverage. It’s designed to be radically inclusive and selective. (And fast.)

(…) Ethan Zuckerman, co-founder of Global Voices Online—a
“find new voices” project that’s working—said he was concerned that
tools to organize the flow and make it practical for people to use were
not keeping pace with expanded opportunities to publish.

(…) For a more intelligent and flexible filter we can trust in pro editors
to adapt to the Web. We can turn to bloggers (they edit the Web for us
and always have.) Or we can try the participation route, also called
social media. (…)”

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Dugg: PressThink: Introducing NewAssignment.Net | Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen wrote on July 25, 2006 about his idea for NewAssignment.Net ("an experiment in open-source reporting"):

"(…) Assignments are open sourced. They begin online. Reporters working with smart users and blogging editors get the story the pack wouldn't, couldn't or didn't. (…) There's $10,000 to test it, courtesy of Craig Newmark.

(…) The site uses open source methods to develop good assignments and help bring them to completion; (…)"

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