News is a subset of the conversation

Here’s a tale that reveals how journalists tend to think of their role in the conversation that makes up news and society.

I think the conversation is happening all around us, with or without the journalists. I teach now that it’s the role of the journalist to add value to that conversation: verification, debunking, facts, reporting, context, platforms, teaching…. The late James Carey defines the role differently. As Jay Rosen explains in the Carey Reader: “The press does not ‘inform’ the public. It is ‘the public’ that ought to inform the press. The true subject matter of journalism is the conversation the public is having with itself.”

But I’m seeing that news organizations think it is their role to lead the conversation (they set the agenda), allow the conversation (you may now comment on our story, now that it’s done), and judge the conversation (see Bill Keller’s sniffing at vox polloi).

That’s why I went theatrically batshit on Twitter against the BBC for holding the first day of a meeting this week about *social media* under Chatham House Rule, which decrees: “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”

That’s a fancy, British way to say “not for attribution.” Or as I said in another tweet, “Chatham House Rule turns everyone into an anonymous source. Precisely the wrong thing for a journo org to do!” That is especially an issue for a public journalistic institution, which should be setting an example for other journalists and their sources.

But it’s most shocking that the BBC would impose this rule on a meeting that is not only about *social media* — I thought all Brits bragged about having a sense of irony Americans lack; apparently not — but worse, one that carried the haughty ambition to formulate “a universally accepted set of verification guidelines for social media material” and “an accepted ethical framework for using sensitive material from social networks.” Don’t they see that one can can longer set true standards for the rest of the world in closed rooms with invite-only guests who are gagged or anonymous and prevented from interacting with that world? Then the outcome becomes a standard only for that small subset of people, which negates its authority as a standard. At best, it’s another club rule.

The arguments back to me on Twitter were mostly that employees needed the comfort of anonymity to speak freely about their employers. My response: The meeting wasn’t streamed. Anyone could request the courtesy not to be quoted or that what he or she says isn’t to be attributed. But the BBC made secrecy the default. Tone deaf. Shameful.

The next morning, at the open and streamed second day of the conference, Peter Horrocks, head of news for the BBC, attacked critics for attacking the BBC for limiting comments on its site to 400 characters (2.85 tweets), calling them extremists and zealots. Horrocks is bidding to control the conversation about controlling the conversation. Oh, my.

But that is the reflex of the journalist: to control the conversation.

Later in the afternoon, by coincidence, I heard from the BBC’s flagship show, Newsnight, asking me to come on to talk about privacy and the superinjunction row in the UK. I told the producer what I had to say about how futile and noxious to my idea of free speech it was for the courts of London to think they could control the conversation and do so in secrecy.

Later, I heard from the producer that “we have booked someone here in London who can make it into the studio, which always works better, and it would imbalance the discussion to have a third person.” Imbalancing a discussion sounds just up my ally. Pity I couldn’t. But that’s fine, it’s their prerogative as it’s their time on their air. But this moment illustrates the point: What journalists have done for a living is manage a conversation.

That is the presumption they now bring to online and the world’s comments.

The problem with comments, I’ve argued lately, is that the form and timing of them is essentially insulting to the public: It says we journalists don’t want to hear from you, the public, until after we are done with our work making content for you to consume. Then the public speaks and journalists don’t listen (because they think their stories are done) and the commenters are insulted and so they insult the journalists and the journalists say that’s the proof that the comments and the commenters aren’t worth the attention. A very vicious cycle. The conversation catches cooties.

The reason the BBC cut its comments down to 400 characters is cost. In a discussion on Twitter with the BBC’s Nick Reynolds, the social media executive who oversees moderation of all BBC social media, that became clear. Comments require moderation and that’s a cost. True enough. But I tried to argue with Reynolds in Twitter that the conversation writ large could also save costs. I couldn’t get it through to him. He kept defining the conversation as comments and “UGC.” I kept defining the conversation as collaboration.

Collaboration is not allowing people to comment. Collaboration is not giving them opinion polls. (Carey, by the way, argued that polling is “an attempt to stimulate public opinion in order to prevent an authentic public opinion from forming,” but that’s another topic.) Collaboration is not enabling them to send in the pictures of the snow on their back porches, something I hate when TV news does it as it condescends — it says the public can’t provide real news or quality images; we’re merely humoring them. “UGC” is bullshit.

No, collaboration is about sharing the work of journalism. Collaboration brings value and can even save costs. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian (he closed the BBC’s conference but, unfortunately, video of it is not online), often talks about the mutualization of news and how opening up its work can enable a journalistic organization to produce journalism it otherwise could not do or afford to do.

At the BBC conference, Esra Dogramaci of Al Jazeera gave an impressive presentation of the networks’ use of social media to collaborate. Then the BBC moderator quizzed her about whether social media would “drive the agenda” of the news. And a BBC staffer fretted that by providing cameras and training to protestors in the Arab Spring, “aren’t you now intertwining yourselves with the protestors?” The moderator asked whether Al Jazeera’s mission of “giving voice to the voiceless” encourages the revolution. Another BBC staffer suggested that by providing the means for the people to talk, Al Jazeera may be subversive. Dogramaci replied, most articulately, that Al Jazeera is on the side of the people and if that is subversive, then so be it.

In what Al Jazeera does, we see the seed of a new definition of journalism and its role in the conversation: as a service to it.

There is yet a further extension of the model in what Andy Carvin has been doing on Twitter covering the Arab Spring (he also spoke at the BBC event). What strikes me there is that Andy does not start or enable or even necessarily serve the conversation, as the conversation is going on with or without him. The witnesses to news are telling the world what they are seeing. Andy observes it and plucks out the good and reliable witnesses and he passes what they observe on, adding value along the way: vetting, questioning, debunking, context, explanation, assigning….

News, then, begins to take on the architecture of the internet itself: end-to-end. At one end are the witnesses sharing, at the other the readers reading and interacting, asking their own questions, having their own say, passing on and recommending what interests them. No need for a gatekeeper. No need for a distributor. No need for a central hub. No tolerance for controllers. The conversation is occurring on its own.

Journalism is sometimes a subset of that conversation. It can add value. It can serve. But it should not think of itself as the creator of the conversation, the setter of the agenda, though that is what I see in so much of the BBC’s worldview as demonstrated at events this week. They might have learned that better if instead of a meeting, they held a conversation.

The conversation is news.

: MORE: Adam Tinworth wonders why a group of big-media people deserves the protection of CHR but the larger group doesn’t. Ah, the Brits and class.

: Here’s the BBC’s explanation of its decision re Chatham House Rule.

  • http://wewillraakyou.com Wessel van Rensburg

    I heard Rusbridger also mentioned that the Guardian is moving away from the term social media in favour of ‘open media’.

    I can understand the issues they have with the term social media. What is your thoughts on that? I know social media is not a perfect term, but open media is neither. Is Facebook open? Is Tencent or Weibo open in the sense that they mean?

    Does the term social sit uncomfortably with journalists – scared that notions of objectivity & professionalism are threatened by it?

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      I have only so much tolerance for nomenclature fretting, to be honest.

      I have been thinking that social media is not good as, you’re right, it makes life into media. (My standard joke is that we in media see the world, Godlike, in our own image. It’s not media. It’s life.)

      And social should be redundant.

      So what do we call this? I’m not sure. Collaborative journalism? That’s limiting, too. Journalism as an open platform? I like the idea but it doesn’t roll off the tongue. Mutualization? Naw.

    • http://annlytical.com/ Ann Danylkiw

      Hi Wessel,

      Publicly created contributions is a suggestion from Matt Adams at Blast Theory, UK I wrote a blog post on it recently, and a discussion followed, if you’re interested: http://annlytical.com/blog/2011/4/14/final-obituary-for-the-user.html

      Adams says that “there is a pejorative undertone to user” and that it’s important to use new language because communication is culture, especially in a digital contributory culture we need to be aware of “how we talk to one another.”

  • http://nickreynoldsatwork.wordpress.com/ Nick Reynolds

    I’m afraid Jeff has misunderstood what I said on Twitter.

    I did not say that the reason that comments on BBC News stories were limited to 400 characters was down to cost. I made the point that moderating and managing comments costs money and that any decision about comments or conversation had to be one which was a judgement call about editorial benefit versus cost,

    I do understand Jeff’s point that colleboration is not the same as conversation. However I disagree with him that it necessarily reduces cost. It simply removes the cost from one place and just puts it somewhere else.

    You could of course crowd source all your newsgathering by doing it all on twitter and via other social media. You could then reduce the number of journalists who are paid staff.

    This model depends on:

    a) twitter having to bear hidden costs of publication and moderation – does twitter make money? what happens if twitter goes bust?

    b) citizen journalists doing newsgathering out of the goodness of their hearts

    I don’t think this model is sustainable in the long run.

    Better people than me have explained why Chatham House Rules were used for #bbcsms – see this:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/journalism/blog/2011/05/bbcsms-chatham-house-rule.shtml

    For some background about changes to BBC News blogs see this post:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2011/05/our_next_step_in_news_blogging.html

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Nick, break out of already-old assumptions. Crowdsourcing brings all kinds of assumptions of managing herds — crowds, that is. Think of new ways. Let’s discuss that.

  • http://nickreynoldsatwork.wordpress.com/ Nick Reynolds

    “Andy observes it and plucks out the good and reliable witnesses and he passes what they observe on, adding value along the way: vetting, questioning, debunking, context, explanation, assigning….”

    Haven’t journalists always done this, well before the advent of the internet?

    Eye witnesses are notoriously unreliable.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Man, you’re sounding jaded. Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable. Then why the hell do you seek them out and quote them and put them on TV and radio for news stories? You are betraying a shocking lack of trust in the public you supposedly serve.

      Yes, journalists have always done this. But now they have new ways to do this. And now — shock — we don’t need journalists to do it all as they are no longer gatekeepers to the sharing of information.

      I need a whiteboard.

      • http://nickreynoldsatwork.wordpress.com/ Nick Reynolds

        Journalists seek out eye witnesses because they are one but only one potential source of information. You overestimate the gatekeeper role of journalists – they like to think of themselves in that way but they’ve always been dependent on others to do their jobs. They were never really as powerful as gatekeepers as you like to think. Their skill often lies in more in writing an sentence that someone else might want to read (which is a surprisingly rare skill) rather than a gatekeeper.

        See this old blog post from me:

        http://nickreynoldsatwork.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/wikileaks-the-stalker-affair-and-the-press/

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          I don’t like to think of them as gatekeepers.I hear too many of them liking to think of themselves that way.

  • George Mason

    Good topic, thanks for bringing it. If it changes things, it’s news. But if journalism be merely a subset of the conversation, what are the others? The conversation gave us everything from the Iraq War to Donald Trump. As Dylan Ratigan said, “arithmetic and facts” should matter. But, yes, when TV news gives us the “we’ll tell you why, coming up,” one hopes the Rapture will carry away such gatekeeping nonsense. But I still think that when we make journalism, in any rhetorical way, somewhat of a servant of some “wisdom of the crowd” conversation, we get Fox News.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      Well, then, you might as well forget this thing called democracy. And while you’re at it, free markets. And for that matter, reform religion. And why bother with journalism and education if the world is filled with a bunch of fucking numbskulls, eh?

      I start with more faith and less snottiness about my fellow man.

      • George Mason

        Regret provoking the f-bomb rant. Definition of terms and maybe my faulty assumptions, so will purchase and read the Carey. But I worked in local TV news and I recall a lo-and-behold news consultant coming to town to tell us, “news is what people are talking about.” In other words, you newsroom folks, just merely “put flesh on it” for that night’s newscasts. That was in 1985. Hence the personal context of my, what, misinformed and “snottiness” view of whatever this “conversation” is supposed to be and how much attention it is supposed to merit? But, yes, I’m Al Jazeera and twitter and all sorts of post-1985 stuff, yikes even TWIT, and I’ll work on it.

  • http://nickreynoldsatwork.wordpress.com/ Nick Reynolds

    The crowd is not always wise.

    The question is:

    Is the pain (cost of crowd sourcing, comments, social, call it what you will) worth the gain (better journalism)?

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      My point is, Nick, that if all you do is comments and UGC and don’t respect it, then the answer is pretty likely no. But that’s a stacked deck.

      What I’m trying to say is that there are more and better ways to interact with and collaborate with the public that can indeed add considerable value.

      I am also trying to say that the world doesn’t need you to have a conversation.

      The question you should be asking is not how the public adds value to you but how you add value to the public.

      • http://nickreynoldsatwork.wordpress.com/ Nick Reynolds

        I am well aware that the world doesn’t need me Jeff. I’m reminded of this every day.

        The problem here is that there is still a wider public that uses the internet but doesn’t do social or citizen journalism (and probably never will). That’s what the judgement call is about: does this kind of conversation create better journalism for everyone and what’s the value and cost.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          You don’t need or want everyone to collaborate. That’d be chaos. See the Wikipedia rule: between 1-2% of its users make it.

        • Sina Motalebi

          In an open collaboration, such as the case of Wikipedia, it’s up to participants to chose whether they want to collaborate so it’s likely that your 1-2% would be more diverse and representative of the various different and even contrasting viewpoints in the society. Even if one camp dominate the conversation it will naturally attract the other camp to enter the game en force in order to take over “its share” or alternatively set up a parallel collaborative conversation which eventually make the general media sphere more representative- at least in the view of the ones who chose to participate.

          On the other hand, a selective collaboration, when you nominate a group of Citizen Journalists, provide them training and equipment, and enter a collaboration with them, is as representative as you make it so. It is very likely to be either limited to your network of contacts or the ones who are engaged in same conversations as you (even though with a different or contrasting point of view.)  so at the end of the day, the ones whose voices have been really unheard (at least by you) will remain unheard.

          I was involved in such a collaboration with Iranian journalists and citizen journalists a few years ago: I was running a collaborative online magazine/workshop with 150 contributors from all across Iran who were trained via online courses, and some of them were equipped with audio/visual devices. The participants were selected from more than 2000 applicants who applied to participate in response to a public call on the highly visited BBC Persian website. We did our best to diversify our shortlisted participants based on their location, age, background, etc. The participants would engage in conversations in the private part of an online workshop to collaborate on development of the stories and make a decision about the editorial agenda, including the selection of the stories to be published. 

          Furthermore the pubic would engage on multiple-thread conversations around the published stories which not only would have an input to the editorial agenda and generate new story ideas, but also would help to identify and “recruit” new contributors/trainees.

          In a short time, the site managed to offer a wide range of stories (and engaging conversations around them) which were not only unaccessible to international media but also were overlooked by Tehran-centric media inside Iran, including the stories by a young girl in a small village without any Internet access- she had to take a short trip to a nearby city to sit in a Internet cafe and participate in the project.

          But nevertheless, despite all the efforts to ensure an inclusive collaboration and diversify the contributors’ base, when an audience survey was conducted (and I’m as sceptic about ’scientific’ marketing researchs as anybody!) it demonstrated our editorial offering appealed most to “male diaspora audience in their mid-thirties” which incidentally was the exact description of me as the editor/trainer of the magazine/workshop!

          If I have the chance to do the project all over again, I would definitely go for a total open, nonselective collaboration- even though that would mean we had to stop at an open source training and avoid equipping as it would need some sort of selection, or in the other word, commisioning process.

          With all the good intentions, when we say “giving voice to voiceless”, in my view it means magnifying the voices of the ones whom WE think should heard louder. It also, I believe, has a condescending undertone- the “voiceless” are not voiceless, their voices are unheard and it’s as much due to our neglect to listen as it’s due to their disadvantages. 

          Taking side with people sounds fine, but except for exceptional moments in the history, when an anomic movement unites the society in hope to reach a common goal, people are fragmented in numerous blocks, with dispersed interests articulated in diverse and sometimes conflicting voices- that is democracy in my view, as dictators are the ones who want to see “the people” as a homogenous backdrop behind them, only to claim that they’re standing by the side of people.

          More often than none we stand where we are or where we want, and define the ones around us as “the people”; the ones whose stories we have heard. Taking side by them means we would miss out on hearing the other stories- the stories of the ones who we do not know so we don’t include in our definition of “the people.”

          In the heat of a popular uprising it doesn’t seem as a big dilemma, however most of the time you just need to give it a year or two to see that the voices and the interests have not been as unified as we thought- but we will never be able to see this if we had already taken side with part of the society.

          A couple of years after the protests in Iran, there are lots of stories from the other side which even though I can not relate to or sympathise with, I can understand and find authentic, and I hope bringing them into the conversation can create a more clear and inclusive image of Iranian society as it is, not as I know or I want it to be.

          It’s not just the voices of oppressed that we haven’t heard, there are also the ones whose voices have only been heard in the coordinated chants for oppressors, but their true stories have not been covered even in the state media- as these are the stories that only will reveal in an engaging conversation, not a propaganda monologue.

          I believe a conversation will only thrive if there’s a wide collaboration to bring opposing viewpoints to face each other- and not necessarily to reach a common ground.   

          If a “big media” organisation with its huge reputation leans towards one side of the conversation, it will not enrich it- but will derail it and terminate its dynamic flow- My limited position of power as an editor/trainer was enough to (unintentionally) swing all the conversations of our website towards my interests, a big-brand organisation can do a lot worse.

          We don’t need to take side by the people. We just need to make sure that their conversations will be heard. 

          Where the obstacles (economic, cultural, or political) suppress the conversation, we can build platforms to boost the conversation without setting the agenda.

          Furthermore, where the conversations are contained in disjointed and dispersed circles, we can build the bridges to allow farther reach collaborations (that’s why I think judging BBC’s level of interaction by the length of the comments can not do justice about an organisation which has the potential -and reputation- of boosting inter-sectional conversations in just below 30 languages.)

          All I’m saying is not to belittle the fascinating work the likes of AlJazeera are doing- but I believe the global conversations will be better heard if also some media organisations stand aside from the activist/participatory route. The price of collaboration should not be set as their divorce from their identity and standards.

          P.S. The comment is maybe more related to the correspondence on Twitter rather than directly to the post. However as it’s long since I had a blog, I took advantage of your generosity. Thank you so much for allowing me to write a comment way over 400 limit but I think my prolonged late night comment stands as an evidence for the need to limit the length of comments!

    • Karl

      The crowd is not always wise. Then again, the BBC is not always wise. In fact, the BBC has a long history of institutional biases — left-wing, anti-Israel, anti-Christian, pro-Muslim, etc. All of this was documented in the Balen Report, which the BBC — in its wisdom — went to court to suppress. Apparently, the penchant for secrecy, the arrogance and the bias goes on.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/denysyeo Denys Yeo

    Jon Morrow wrote a powerful guest blog on ProBlogger this week called: “How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise, and Get Paid to Change the World”. It is the kind of article that could have been written by a NYT writer. That would have been OK, but in this case it gains of lot of its impact because it is written and owned by Jon. Within the first few days of being posted it has attracted 397 comments. These comments are part of a direct conversation with Jon, and feel real.

    How would a journalist add value to that?

  • Kelley Rickenbaker

    I think the fundamental divide in understanding here comes from the difficulties some folks are having in recognizing the state change that’s occurred in mass communication itself. On the one hand, we all grew up in a broadcast world – the world of one voice speaking to many. The owners and controllers of mass media outlets and output thrived on scarcity, if you owned the printing press, you could call the tune, (or define the debate or support the candidate or whatever.) Serious and professional journalism found a respected home in that environment, not least because there was money to be made there. It is even today a rich and powerful place, the world of broadcast.

    But “broadcast world” is no longer the only destination in town. As most of us see, the internet is disrupting the “one to many” communications model, as thoroughly and as completely as it has disrupted so many other industries. The state change is simple to understand, but profound in its implications. “Many to many” is the way the new architecture works. The internet truly enables a direct conversation – a million conversations. The rules of engagement today for journalists with the public are changing and morphing into something new. And growing good and profitable journalism on the internet is a huge task requiring everyone’s best efforts to figure it out. Lots of people get this – many of the voices at this conference surely do, (Rusbridger, Carvin…) I’m just guessing, but I suspect that Jeff’s frustration derives perhaps from what he sees as an inability of some at the BBC to understand what they’re living through, along with some unwillingness on their part to admit that the old ways of doing business are pretty much toast. The good news is that they’ll figure it our sooner or later. They won’t have any choice.

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  • http://www.modernmediajapan.com Terri MacMillan

    interesting discussion. I’m not a journalist or an academic. I’m just a regular working class person, not privileged, in the Western sense, to any great extent.

    I know that my attention, and my time, at 53, is limited. So, I want to read news that doesn’t waste my time, that talks with me, not to me. I don’t care if it’s long or short: that’s not relevant, as I can read and I love to do so. I care that it’s well written, conversational and clear. And if I want to comment, it’s nice if there’s a place to do so: otherwise, I’ll share it with my communities and comment there.

    I care that the research I don’t have time or expertise to do is done thoroughly, with fairness, and with a bias that is clearly stated (because I think ‘unbiased’ is nonsense if a human being is writing).

    And, finally, I don’t care if it comes from Informed Comment, the BBC, the New York Times, Jeff here on BuzzMachine, The Root, TBogg, or any other source for whom I’ve built up a sense of trust.

    For those of you in the rarified airs, perhaps my opinion may be useful. Of course, YMMV:-)

  • http://Www.annrbrocklehurst.com AnnB

    Hmm. I’ve been wondering about this idea that Jeff keeps throwing out that journalism exists to serve the public.

    Does it? Couldn’t you say that about any industry?

    Surely journalism is about providing truth or news, which some members of the public choose to consume and/or use and/or act on.

    Sometimes good journalism is actually about ignoring pretty much everyone including the public.

    As much as I love the give and take of the Internet, there is something that rubs me the very wron way about this serve-the-public definition of journalism, but I haven’t quite put my finger on what it is.

    • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

      I don’t understand. The public is customers. If you don’t serve customers, you don’t have a business or a reason to be.
      Now I do hear journalists who don’t care what the public needs and care only about the stories they want to tell.

      • http://Www.annrbrocklehurst.com AnnB

        Yes of course you have to serve th public but defining yourself as serving the public isn’t really helpful in formulating where journalism should go.

        Google, for example, says it exists to organize the world’s information. In doing that, it serves the public but it’s not it’s raison d’être. And while Google does give the public great free products, it pretty much doesn’t want to hear from them after that.

        Also, consider Apple. Can you imagine Steve Jobs saying Apple should serve the public? No. He says Apple should create fantastic innovative products. That’s how it serves the public.

        The NY Times used to aim to provide all the news that was fit to print. Again, this was how it served the public.

        Saying journalists exist to serve the public doesn’t work for me. Surely what they do is an updated version of all the news that’s fit to print.

        And I also think there’s an exception-proves-the-rule quality to many of the tales of public/citizen journalism success.

        All that being said, I think the 400 character limit is tremendously dumb. and alienating and unneccesary.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          I think you are splitting semantic hairs. When I say public in this context I mean customers as Google means the word: If you don’t serve the people who use you well and answer their needs you will not survive. Google does, indeed, serve the public. Apple is highly customer focused. The Times wants to be read by the public. I’m not enjoying your semantic game.

        • http://Www.annrbrocklehurst.com AnnB

          It’s not meant to be a semantic game. It’s meant to help define the mission of a news organization in the digital era. I would be interested in hearing from news organizations that have redefined their missions.

      • http://nickreynoldsatwork.wordpress.com/ Nick Reynolds

        The public is not only customers. This is a narrow definition of the public for news. If many of the investigative reporters of the past had simply served up customers what they were prepared to pay for they would never have broken any new stories. That kind of journalism is difficult enough to fund on a traditional model yet alone a digital one.

        • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

          Well, if the investigative reporters were doing things that the public and people in it didn’t need done then there’d be little point. See my response to Ann.

      • Andy Freeman

        > If many of the investigative reporters of the past had simply served up customers what they were prepared to pay for they would never have broken any new stories.

        I’d like to see some evidence for that claim. AFAIK, the public is just as interested in “Mayor caught taking bribes” as “Headless body found in topless bar.”

        That said, I’ll concede that more people are interested in the weather, sports, and entertainment news.

  • http://alexandraschmidt.com/ alex

    What’s missing from the utopian future vision of news, unimpeded by old modes, is the fact that constructive convo’s do not just happen freely on the wildly chaotic and crowded Internet — they rely upon existing platforms with mouthpieces and infrastructures in place. Let’s not forget what established platforms bring to the system by virtue of focusing and editing the chaos. There is a value to editing, absolutely. I’m a “new media” (or whatever) believer, but I’ll argue that to the end.

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  • miquel_urmeneta

    This post about conversations has reminded me about an essay I wrote some months ago for my masters about ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’, a classic (that will never die).

    I add a link to the doc in case it helps. http://bit.ly/kZLbnR

    Regards from Barcelona (Spain)

  • Andrew Hough

    I really enjoyed reading this article. The comments were interesting too, particularly the BBC guy showing what he thinks of the public–and most journalists think.

    I could not agree more that the big story, tiny comments format is condescending to the public, and marginalizes people who want to participate in their democratic culture and conversation. I’m happily surprised that a journalism professor at a fancy school has this level of respect for ordinary people.

    It’s an astute observation that journalism is really about controlling a conversation and setting an agenda rather than sharing information. This has become true to a larger and more alarming extent now that media companies are increasingly connected with other major corporations and increasingly owned by fewer people.

    If the people could talk back, and the flow of information was end-to-end instead of top-down, that would be real democracy. Unfortunately the media companies and the business community they belong to will not allow this.

    Journalists certainly do function as gatekeepers, or more precisely the institutions of education and media do. To have a voice is to have power. It is unfortunate that there is no shortage of hacks with degrees who have been taught to have contempt for the public.

  • john

    jeff as can be seen quite clearly from the dated atrrogant colmments of nick reynolds you can see why leaving this man in charge of bbc social media that it has resulted in one of the biggest pr disasters in the bcbcs history. messageboards have been destroyed and blogs neutered and apparantly he has his own moderation team who remove posts that he may find upset him..shocking.

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  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Horrocks misspoke. I checked with the guy in charge of moderation, who’s also in these comments, and he pointed me to the link I included in my post. It’s 400 characters.