…though it does have its own special power

The following statement appeared in a leaked memo from a Deputy Managing Editor of the most obsessed-about newspaper in the country:

"People can use it any way they want to. It has no inherent ethical or moral quality, though it does have its own special power."

I invite you to come up with a possible explanation of what "it" is:

a) Wikipedia
b) a blog
c) a Colt .45
d) the new Oral-B computerized toothbrush
e) the 82nd Airborne Division

Seeking the thought leaders of online journalism

Here are my own brief answers to Who’s Respected in Online Journalism? These are quick thoughts, and I have ludicrously high standards, and I have the bias of working on reactionary theories. I’m still most curious to learn what other people think.

Who’s Respected in Online Journalism?

I had thought of going to the Online News Association conference in NYC this past weekend, but I passed and read the commentary online. All I’d wanted to do was just ask some questions of some members. I figured it’s just as easy to ask on the mailing list.

Schooled ya: Community Journalism Still Too Static

In researching Maynard’s Radio Needs a Boost, I wondered how community journalism stacked up against traditional journalism in reporting and amplifying. If community journalism missing clear and present stories like this one, and is content in its own static, than it has a long ways to go.


The New Gatekeepers: The Corrections

Last spring, I spent several weeks, and many hours at a time, putting together an essay which ultimately comprised eight parts and 14,000 words, titled The New Gatekeepers. One of the main themes was analyzing the architecture of the blogosphere, which I observed had stressed “immediacy over thoroughness.” I developed the argument that if we wanted a system to promote different values– favoring throughness over immediacy– we would have develop a different technology to do that. I had hoped to start that here on Civilities. Unfortunately, my argument has been undermined by my having rushed the writing and editing of some of the series. There are five glaring problems which I wish to address.

Summer of Ignorance turns to Fall of Media

I’m returning from my summer break away from writing. As I hinted three months ago, I’d be on a bit of a break for a while– work had gotten pretty intense, and I was in the process of moving across town (which caused two outages of over a day last month: one by my poor planning, one by Verizon’s mistake in fixing my phone line), and then setting up the new place. And I wanted to get some normal sleep.

Normative And Narrative — Styles, Platforms, Usage

There are two fundamental styles of writing which comprise most of the writing around us. I call them normative and narrative, though it shouldn’t surprise me if this has been thought of communications theorists prior. Each style lends itself to a different type of publishing platform. I will explain here what the ramifications are for online publications.

It goes to eleven: stacking on the clutter of "citizen journalism" analysis

On Monday, Steve Outing of the Poynter Institute stacked up the eleven layers of citizen journalism. Stack may be the wrong word– that’s mine– but layers isn’t exactly right, if we are thinking about network communications layers. They’re eleven concepts used to frame a number of concepts related to the new media called citizen journalism, with some helpful examples. But it can use a little more work. Here’s my citizen additions.

Fixing a Blog In Time – Bob’s response

Yesterday I posted the article Fixing a Blog in Time, which was a little experiment in reading a particular blog, and trying to understand how it covered 26 different posts over a period of a little over two weeks. I chose Robert Cox's The National Debate. I did not make fully clear, with each post, how much I was mixing my initial impression of reading it with subsequent understandings. This begs a larger discussion about the tradeoffs inherent in impressionistic news.

Bob sent me the following response via email this evening. I post it in full here with my brief reactions interjected.

How to do online interviews?

Interviews are very underrated in the world of online media, and there’s a great potential for doing more of them. It’s a way to write if you don’t know what to write about. I think also there’s a good way to avoid the self-focus inherent in blogs. An additional person forces an additional perspective into the story. So I thought I’d ask to see what other people in online news are doing in this area.

Interview with Brian Keeler of ePluribusMedia

Several weeks ago, I spoke to Brian Keeler who co-founded ePluribus Media with Susan Gardner earlier this year. Their first project, propagannon, was an offshoot of distributed research done on Daily Kos about the identity of White House “reporter” Jeff Gannon. Susan had brought it to the attention of the Daily Kos diaries after reading about it from David Brock of the liberal Media Matters for America watchdog group. The diaries had been a beneficial crucible for researching aspects to Gannon’s reporting (the site counts tens of thousands of liberal activists as members), but the group soon outgrew the capabilities of the Daily Kos architecture.

Trust in Gatekeepers

Reading Civilities, one might get the impression that I have no respect for the work that Harvard’s does (I happen to have sympathy for Seth Finkelstein’s case), or respect for the “A-List Gatekeepers” (Mike Sanders does not say that, though he uses that quoted phrase), or even respect for women bloggers (Shelley Powers lumped me in with some alpha-bloggers, and later modified that, downgrading me from an onion to a scallion.)

Let me correct those mis-impressions which I’ve just made for myself:

The New Gatekeepers: Reactions

Here’s a summary of reactions to The New Gatekeepers series– and some brief responses back from me. Also see reactions froom delicious as well as Technorati.

February 11, 2006: The number-one ranked site for "The New Gatekeepers" is no longer this series but a thousand-word essay with that title that Tristan Louis posted last Friday. I have a lot of respect for Tristan as a guy who has contributed a lot of critical thinking and original research on Internet and media over years. And we correspond somewhat, not as much as I do with Seth, but I would have figured that he might have Googled the title, to see whether it has an active promoter of it. Dave Rogers was first to comment to Tristan’s piece, sending him the link to this series.

The New Gatekeepers, Part 8: The Future

This piece brings the New Gatekeepers series to a close. I sketched out a future vision in the previous part, which I believe could happen, sometime. In the meanwhile, I will write about the future as it has happened over the past four months.

The New Gatekeepers

To read the headlines, or the bloglines, one might get the sense that the bloggers have arrived on the scene to challenge the “gatekeepers” of the big media. This is an essay in eight parts to examine this theme.

The New Gatekeepers, Part 7: Solutions

This is an addendum to the New Gatekeepers series (formally, part 7). In the series, particularly part 4, I described that the need for gatekeepers is a result of discursive postings; in order to minimize the influence of gatekeepers, we need aggregatable declarations.

The New Gatekeepers, Part 6: A Summary

Before I get to the solutions, I’ll spend some time summarizing what has been discussed in The New Gatekeepers series, this being part 6.

People around the world have discovered their voices, and enjoy seeing their work published online for others to read. The tools they use are quite often blogs, and thus they call themselves bloggers. And by the bubble of blogging, the format been hyped as a panacea for solving the problems of the media, of business, or organizations. It just doesn’t follow.

The New Gatekeepers, Part 5: The Problem of Crowds

Fifth in the series on The New Gatekeepers.

It’s been over two weeks since the that last part of this series. This gap in time can be partly rationalized by my hoping to build up some anticipation for this next part. We’re going to look at epidemics, cascades and the problem of crowds.

The New Gatekeepers, Part 4: The Alternative

Fourth in the series on The New Gatekeepers.

A wonderful set of coincidences happened this weekend; I decided to take a break from writing, and then a beautiful woman flew into town and we happened to met, and we decided to go out Saturday night. Pretty quickly I had to find something to go see and a restaurant to dine in. Your dividend from all of this, dear reader, is an illustration about the different circumstances where gatekeepers are necessary or not: from theater shows to dining options.

The New Gatekeepers, Part 3: Their Values

Third in the series on The New Gatekeepers.


There are a number of values associated with, and celebrated in, the blogosphere: Freedom. Anonymity. Immediacy. Talking. Breadth. Ego. Involvement. Serendipity. But we may view them in different light when we consider what values they displace:

The Wayward Blogs

In the last 4 months, I’ve written 60 articles. These fifteen are ones that I feel follow the style of Liebling. After the first piece, a rather sober analysis about media mistrust, I started diving headfirst into news stories. I looked at why stories broke they way they did. Like Liebling, I avoided jumping to the conclusion that some all-powerful conspiracy was to blame; instead these stories represent cirumstances where average people just ambled along, sticking with old habits, making simple mistakes, not listening to others. And it’s not just the press that’s wayward these days; it’s the new blog-press, too.

The New Gatekeepers, Part 2: Who They Are

…where I learned just who the new gatekeepers were, and why people are suspicious of their roles.

Second in the series on The New Gatekeepers.

The New Gatekeepers Part 1: Changing of the Guard

A stark look at the challenge of the old gatekeepers– and the possible emergence of new ones.

First in a series on The New Gatekeepers.

The Tipster Network

Proposing a scaleable solution for sending tips to publishers.

Last month, I wrote that publications, traditional and online, have a primary responsibility to demonstrate that they are responsive to their readers, and that a majority of the questions along these lines should be concerned with how they handle tips. This month Jay Rosen recognized the problem in the midst of a PressThink discussion and spelled out some guidelines for sending in tips (e.g., “Write a post in PressThink’s major areas of interest that gets other people talking, and makes an original point or two.”) This is a good start. Here’s a longer proposal for how it can be done that meets goals of accountability and fairness.

Promoting Women Bloggers: A Timeline of Relevant Discussions

A review of Internet discussions over the last two years regarding promoting women’s voices in blogging. This is not a complete list, but a spotlight on some of the more well-known participants and discussions. This was part of the analysis Promoting Women Bloggers.

Comparative Studies of Blogs and Other Online Journalism

This page contains a number of research projects I’ve undertaken in order better study blogs and other online journalism comparatively.

Media Legitimacy: The Core Responsibility of the Media

The ideal of journalism is to be responsible to the truth. Whether individual journalists or publications meet that ideal is often debated, but they all, at a basic level, have a definitive responsibility– to their readers.

Legitimacy: How responsible are you to your readers?

This should be the central obligation of any publisher: legitimacy to the readers, the audience, the constituency. Whether it takes priority over responsibility to the public at large, or even the truth, is a separate, though necessary, discussion. Here we try to help anyone new to publishing consider– questions to ask in assessing how well they are serving their readers. It’s absolutely necessary as the number of readers grows. Call it the Media Contract. (read a longer introduction on media legitimacy)

Garf to Graff: Take Press Room Blogging to the Next Level

Stuck at the Gates

“Jeff Gannon” was originally outed as a conservative operative in the White House press room one year ago. Why did the story take so long to break?


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