There, there, Ron

I am the honoree of an attempted hatchet job by Ron Rosenbaum in – what’s the name of that site? Salon? no, Slate (I always get them confused). I’ll spare you his three pages of bluster (O, for the days of scarce space on paper) and get to his point: He’s mad because I’m not acting sufficiently mournful and respectful at the demise of his friends’ journalistic careers (and perhaps his own). I’m “increasingly heartless” about these “beautiful losers.”

Sadly, Rosenbaum doesn’t debate the idea and history and fate of journalism, which might be productive or at least provocative. Instead, like a pissy third grader, he attacks me. Because of my opinion, he says he doesn’t “like” me anymore. Take that, Jarvis! You can’t sit at my lunch table ever again! He reminds me of that same third grader who, when he doesn’t study for a test and sees the results of his inattention, whines, cries, and stomps his little feet, declaring, “It’s not fair.” No, kid, life ain’t.

What I’m really doing is holding journalists responsible for the fate of journalism. How dare I? Rosenbaum says, “Not only does he blame the victims, he denies them the right to consider themselves victims.” As if victimhood gets us anywhere.

For the record, here is the nut of what I said in a blog post and Guardian column that inspired this attack. I was responding to efforts to absolve journalists of responsibility for the fall of journalism and its vessels by Paul Farhi, Roy Greenslade, and Adrian Monck:

My purpose in rebutting Farhi, Greenslade and Monck is not to flagellate journalists but to empower them. To take responsibility for the fall of journalism is to take responsibility for its fate. Who’ll try to save it if not journalists? There’s not a minute to waste whining.

But sadly, Rosenbaum doesn’t discuss that. He whines and prefers to mock me for going to conferences, advising news companies, and teaching journalists (helping to train more of them, not end up with fewer of them). I’m not sure what he’d rather have me do: Sit in my room and mope, sitting shiva for the past? Refuse to discuss the future of journalism? Tell newspapers when they call asking for brainstorming to fuck off and die? Would that be in solidarity with my hack brethren who did too little to transform journalism in the last 13 years of the web?

Just this morning I attended – busted! – another conference where I talked over coffee and croissant with chief executives of four newspaper companies as they brainstormed new models for news. I ran a conference at CUNY last week in new business models for news. I am starting an organization at CUNY to find, explore, and share best practices in new business models for news. I teach a course in entrepreneurial journalism in hopes supporting small sparks of innovation. Full disclosure: I also advise or invest in a number of related startups including Daylife, Publish2, 33Across, Black20, Brightcove, (and haven’t made a penny on any et). I hope the profession – or someone – finds ways to save journalism.

Whether we save all the journalists today is entirely another matter and not my goal. Rosenbaum believes that makes me heartless. I think it makes me realistic. And we need some realism in this business. If Rosenbaum really wants to dislike someone, he might turn his spitballs toward my friends Scott Karp and Seth Godin, who declare that “the market and the internet don’t care if you make money.” There is no divine right for newsroom jobs. Nor is printing and trucking an eternal verity of the field. There is, instead, a need for journalism. That’s the problem to solve. That’s the opportunity to follow.

At the Foursquare conference this morning, I heard the voluble Sam Zell of Chicago say what he’s said before – he’s a realist. A few old hands in the industry shook their heads about him. I asked them to name three disrupters inside the newspaper business today. They failed. Whether Zell is your disrupter of choice, at least he’s asking the questions, challenging the assumptions.

Rosenbaum accuses me of “living the good life” as a consultant, professor, blogger, blatherer. I wish. When I worked for Advance and Conde Nast, I made many times what I do now. So why the hell did I leave? Because I wanted to be more a part of the future and believed I could best do that by working with students who will be that future, by helping companies from the outside with one other perspective, and by joining in and sometimes prodding the urgent discussion about new and sustainable models for news.

Of course, you’re free to argue with what I say and call bullshit on me. I wish you would (and many of you do). That would be productive. Sticking your tongue out is not. Rosenbaum also complains about the aphorisms, blog headlines, and PowerPoint lines that emit from here. Fine, but they sometimes travel better than three pages of bile and bluster. “Do what you do best and link to the rest” may be cute but it also starts discussions.

Let’s have that discussion, Ron.

If Rosenbaum had reported about my reporting, he would have avoided some errors in his piece. (We’ll see now whether, like a good blogger, he corrects them.) He says that I recently heard and repeated a speech by Paulo Coelho in Frankfurt. Actually, I interviewed Coelho – reporting, that’s called – for my book and a Guardian column in Paris last summer. He says I lived by the World Trade Center on 9/11. Actually, I’ve said often that I was on the last PATH train into the center that day (Google skills would have gotten him that).

He also speculates about the reporting in my book. He wonders – rather than asks – whether I sought access from Google and was rebuffed. I did not and was not. I interviewed many people like Coelho. I chose not to seek official and controlled access to Google and in my acknowledgments in the book, I explain why:

Note that I am not thanking Google. I am grateful for Google’s existence, its lessons, and its inspiration—not to mention Marissa Mayer’s quotable advice online. But I want to note that I did not seek access to Google for this book because I wanted to judge it and learn from it at a distance. My admiration of Google, then, does not spring from any relationship with the company but from its incredible example.

Rosenbaum also speculates on my opinions. He says I don’t “seem to recognize distinctions of value.” What the hell does that mean? Even as he mocks my little law, he cites Gresham’s Law – a brief and quotable aphorism, a chestnut, itself: “Trash drives out value.” But I argue that the internet ends scarcity and enables great creation and with it new value. He complains about my trust in the market — “the same market that created this debacle and came close to destroying the economy.” I say at some level, if you don’t trust the market – the people, us – then you don’t value democracy, capitalism, education, art … or journalism (for why trust, empower, enable, ennoble, and inform the people if we all a bunch of idiots?). “He’s the Sarah Palin of gurus,” Rosenbaum says. “The crowd is always right.” Don’tcha know, it’s often more right than we give it credit for.

“Look,” Rosenbaum concludes, “there’s nothing wrong with Jarvis doing all this thinking and decreeing.” Gosh, thanks, Ron. But if you question my authority to discuss the future of journalism, I wonder who made you the DMV of the discussion.

: LATER: G’bless Paulo Coelho for his response to Rosenbaum in the comments:

Ron claims that I am a New Age guru. Please pass the message to him, as his blog does not have a direct place for comments (it is too complicate to leave any post there): he should sit and meditate, become a vegetarian, say OMMMMMMMM 250.352 times a day, smile while saying “Peace and Love” to strangers, read the Bragavad Gita every morning. Only then, he should sit and start blogging. For sure, his text will improve, his bitterness will dissapear.

: LATER STILL: See Michael Miner’s and Ken Sands’ thoughtful posts on the real issues.

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  • none

    my read was that rosenbaum wasn’t attacking you for your ideas– but for your enormously large ego. it’s the ego and self-promotion that causes people to reject some of your good ideas out of hand. you’d think that at your age and with your level of success, you’d have moved past that– why not start now?

  • Jeff, I have a question:

    You keep harping on the fact that journalists need to find new business and organizational models, and to further that objective you are teaching a course in Entrepreneurial Journalism at CCNY.

    I think that is very cool, but what I don’t get is that if you are trying to teach as many people as possible how to effectively use the internet…why not use the internet to do it? Why not make it open to everyone? Why not create open-ended assignments that people not in your class can work on? Why not, in creating the structure for your class, also create one for all those people who aren’t able to attend CCNY?

    You definitely talk to the talk (and I agree with the vast majority of what you say). But why not also walk the walk? You can’t continually castigate old-media newspaper CEO’s, then make the same mistakes they do.

  • joe O

    the main issue is this discussion at all. That we’re too busy with character assassination attempts rather than an open discussion of ideas shows we’re still not ready to lose the wounded puppy act and get shit done. Neither Ron nor your response has added anything to what’s really important – changing our industry for the better. So to continue your school analogy, I hope to hell you both get pulled by the ears and scolded by the principal – us – as we tell you to grow up.

    I fear I’ll be reading posts everywhere about this instead of the steady stream
    Of ideas I have been seeing lately. Thanks Ron and Jeff for the unwelcome distraction.

  • You know, with all the messenger killing that goes on, it’s a wonder that there are any weathermen left in Louisiana.

    Jeff, it’s pretty common for people to blame their bad news on a visible someone if they can. It’s a shame that he chose you, instead of seeing the opportunity that’s written on the wall in ten foot tall letters.

    If radio make the music business work, we’ve just entered an era where the internet is radio for ideas. And who better to report and make those ideas than the very people just freed up on jobs in a declining industry.

    Hang in there, buddy. The world needs to hear you, most especially those who don’t see the opportunities yet.

    And Al Gore better watch out, because if global warming gets worse, people are going to look for someone to blame.

    • Dan Mitchell

      And five years later, this bit of inane drivel is even more inane and drivelly.

  • Jim H.

    I read Jarvis almost daily and think he offers a lot of good ideas. I also think he comes off as way too thin skinned in his rebuttal. And I think a central point of the post that bothers him has some validity – that he likes taking shots at those of us in the trenches at daily newspapers who have little to no control over what our bosses do, or don’t do, to keep up with the times. Perhaps Jarvis has been in a position of authority for so long he has forgotten, if he ever knew, what it’s like to be down in the food chain at a big corporation.

  • I guess I’m a one trick pony. I keep coming back to the same issue. I’m all for re-inventing the news, but I’ve yet to hear who is going to fund expensive news gathering.

    I’m not talking about a zillion people with camera phones reporting breaking news events, I’m talking about the cost of doing real, slow, investigative journalism.

    To cite one recent example the NY Times dug through various records and found that 90% of the retirees from the Long Island Railroad were also getting disability payments. This led to an ongoing investigation by the railroad as well as the state attorney general.

    If the Times wasn’t paying the salaries of those doing the digging for the weeks (months?) it took to develop this story who would?

    I.F. Stone used to sit and dig through obscure government records to reveal malfeasance, but he lived in near poverty (I think most of his income came from his wife’s job), that’s not a model that scales.

    I don’t expect Jeff Jarvis to come up with the answer to this on his own, but so far we hear little about what comes out of the brainstorming conferences he sponsors or attends. I’m afraid his focus in more on ad revenue than news gathering, despite his focus on “news”.

  • Tucker,
    You are absolutely right and I confess to being behind on implementing that.

    Yes. But I aleady went on long enough. Click on the tags and there’s plenty more in the discussion.

    He was saying I’m dancing on the graves of journalists. That’s the idea in question. He’s wrong.

  • Barry Hollander

    Sorry Jeff — you were pretty successfully mocked, and your comeback has all the power of a “No, you are!” belch from a middle school playground.

    Don’t give up. Sit, think, and try again. Maybe your next post will sound less like you’re trying to convince yourself and more like you’re trying to convince us.

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  • I’m new to your party (blog), so you can thank this guy for something. ;)

    My question is: with all the “experts” in the market talking, why is the print industry faring so poorly? In my opinion, I think it’s because there are a lot of people pretending to know what they’re doing who don’t when it comes to the web. I attend panel discussions with some of the most esteemed people in the business and i’m not the only one who notices that they don’t have a clue about the internet or what to do with it. Adapting to the internet is dead simple: it’s a platform here to replace or modify existing platforms (TV, print, etc.) and it takes a custom, specialized strategy that involves thoughts to your audience, what makes sense and especially user interface. Instead, you see them blindly put in people without the right experience, following experts who are either not experts or have niche expertise, and whatever flavor of the month site is popular, which constantly changes. It’s no wonder it’s failing, and advertising in it. It’s the blind leading the blind, lots of egos, off mindsets.

    If print media wants to look at what is working and how to do this, it can look to retail, or even TV business. Retail aced the web, considering, and actually studied UI to make people sticky to sites, developed a ton of the strategies we all use today, etc. TV is newly disrupted but adapting very well. Yet, in the print business, all the top people I see inside companies are such and such editor of *big print magazine* and that doesn’t matter. The web doesn’t care about your big name anywhere else but your effort on it.

  • What’s most interesting about this conversation is that it is undoubtedly going to take place on this blog, as opposed to The nature of the news organizations just doesn’t lend itself to a conversation of equals. The inter-professional debate continues, I remain amused and the networks keep yacking on about B.O.’s choice of dog…

  • I wouldn’t have known about Mr. Rosenbaum but for your post, Jeff.

    Trolls. Feed. Don’t.

  • rod

    Oh come on… Jeff’s a self-confessed egotist, so you can’t get that mud to stick. And anyway it goes with the territory; who other than an egotist would put themselves and their thoughts on the line so regularly and so openly. It’s just great that those thoughts are so bang on the money so often!

  • nancy hass

    Jeff — I note you ignored Robert Feinman’s question. I’m new to your blog, so maybe you actually have a real answer that you’ve riffed on before. Can you direct me to it? If so, you’re the only one who’s successfully addressed it. The Metronorth example he cites is one of the several dozen I could point to this year alone, It costs $3 million per annum for the NYT to have its Bagdad bureau, and even in the flushest of times, such expenditures were made purely because the Sulzbergers, for all their other various mistakes, thought we should know what was going on in the war. Tell me, please, how that’s gonna work in the new order? I love a good aggregator and a witty blogger as much as the next girl, but don’t tell me you actually believe that ProPublica is going to be sending people to look for Osama Bin Laden if Barack does actually make it a priority? I love the attitude of such ventures, but to suggest that they’ll be able to substitute is preposterous.I don’t care that my own msm job is gone — I can find something else to do — but I do care about who’s going to pay the $$$$$ it costs to gather news. I don’t want “communiity builders. ” I want information. And real information costs $$$$$.

  • I was going to write something about this but decided against it. Attention is what the article seeks, and I don’t want to be a part of that.

    Suffice it to say that this was a whining, ugly and misdirected piece of anger, and I’m surprise Slate published it. It’s not worth deconstructing.

    Pioneers are always the ones who get the arrows, Jeff.

  • If you remember, when last we discussed Slate, they ran a piece that equated linking by RealClearPolitics and Drudge with rampant, unrepentant plagiarism. When called on that stupidity, the author claimed it was a joke.

    Maybe this one is a joke, too.

  • Dave,
    The last time I discussed Slate, I ripped them one. I do not imply a connection.

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  • ChrisPierson

    Wow, talk about acting like a pissy third grader! Jeff, get over yourself! RR’s criticism, while sharp, isn’t personal. He’s criticizing your content. His point, from my perspective, is that your argument that journalists are responsible for the mess print is in is off-base because journalism is what it is regardless of the medium it’s practiced in. Good journalism doesn’t change because it’s done all-electronically; it remains good journalism. Nor does bad journalism suddenly become good journalism when it goes digital. Journalism is what it is–and it isn’t to blame for what is happening to journalists.

    I think Rosenbaum is right to point out your tendency to be mystified by the medium you hype. Mystification been berry berry good to you.

  • Michael Hill

    Methinks the lady, and all that, but the mistake you make Mr. Jarvis is in blaming the journalists. The fact is their product is quite popular and desired. They are doing a good job. It is the money types who can’t figure out the business model. Why you think it’s somehow empowering to tell someone who has just written a great story, well-told, that righted a wrong, and who just got laid off that it’s his fault is beyond me. Kudos to your attempts to find new business models (I favor something along the lines of what ASCAP did for songwriters), but please hold the praise for Sam Zell. There is no creativity in his destruction, just destruction.

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  • Jerry Crimmins

    It’s often said, but worth saying again, one of the reasons newspaper readership has fallen so fast, even while baby boomers should still be supporting newspapers, is that big city dailies they have abandoned or insulted their conservative readers.
    Almost every big city daily today is written by liberal Democrat reporters for liberal Democrat readers.
    This is supported by all surveys. Even without that, my friends badger me about it repeatedly and have for years. Some simply walk away and read only the Wall Street Journal.
    By the way, I remember you well from the midnight shift of the Chicago Tribune in the 1970s.
    Jerry Crimmins

  • Jonathan

    I don’t mind Jeff blaming journalists for the collapse of the traditional media forms and business models — nor do I understand why somebody would be offended by it — but I don’t think he’s having much effect on the future of journalism by doing so.

    I know he thinks it’s a kick in the pants to those dinosauric newsrooms, a clarion call for them to go start re-inventin’ themselves and all, but they won’t. Or at least, not nearly enough.

    As we can all see by now, the impact of the Internet on the media business model is so irrevocably disruptive that there’s really not a lot that news organizations can do, other than ethically disintegrate themselves into the smallest, nimblest units of value — colloquially known as blogs — and cease to exist as larger entities. Incidentally, nobody will care.

    If there’s any charge to be leveled against Jeff, it’s that he probably knows this also, knows that speaking at conferences and consulting to these doomed organizations is entirely pointless, and does so anyway, either out of some ego-feeding desire or because that’s become his way of making a living.

    Personally, that just seems like a waste of his time, but it isn’t very offensive.

  • After a long private exchange with Jeff about this piece, that I’d like to remain private, I sent a final thought that seems worth making public.

    No one ever does anything to save an industry until it’s too late. This just happens to be one we can’t live without.

    I have seen this over and over, so many times and I think the news industry, like the software industry and the music industry, is blowing it. But it would be unprecedented for them to accept the inevitable and then work back from there to arrive at the best possible outcome for everyone, without considering their own interests. It seems like it should be possible because very few of the people who have to make it work will have jobs in the new regime, and to the extent there are companies, they will be non-profits, and if they see the importance of what they do to everyone else, they would want to do something to make sure we have a way to get the news, but (key point) it never goes that way.

    I’ve written about this extensively on, so if you want to know more, just click on my name in this comment.

  • Kudos Jeff for taking the positions you are taking. I spent a year at Time Inc after I sold to the company. SI and GOLF had no problem getting their “print writers” to write for the web. However, the pushback in other parts of the company about contributing to digital distribution outlets was deafening. Many “writers” wanted more money when their work appeared on the web sites of their publications. Others refused to contribute additional work to the digital platforms (web, mobile, social, etc.). I’ve seen the same thinking at the educational level from students and professors (I sit on Medill’s advisory board) and in news rooms. Journalists need to save their business. Business people won’t. Business people will cut, cut, cut. But they can’t create the content for the new formats and environments users demand. So if you want to be a journalist, do everything you can do adapt. If you don’t want to adapt, go get another job. Your reader/consumer has changed. You need to as well.

    Jeff, keep mixing things up. Maybe that will speed up the journalism evolutionary process.


    Mike Lazerow
    BS/MS Journalism/Northwestern’s Medill program and Recovering Journalist and Digital Entrepreneur

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  • As Kanye West says: “Love your haters — they’re your biggest fans!”

    Put it behind you and keep doing what you do. I find it hard to believe that Ron Rosenbaum viciously editorialized about your ideas for innovation in the journalism industry. Especially when his most notable contribution to the topic is this blog post about how to save print — PRINT! — newspapers with an ad campaign “about the sensuality of paper.”

    Are you really worried about what this guy has to say about you, Jeff?

  • I’m obviously bias as a big fan and supporter of your work, thoughts etc. I wouldn’t have asked you to be an advisor on my project if I weren’t.

    I know that’s not a big constellation prize – but I think it serves as a counterpoint to Robert Fienman’s comment on this blog.

    What you are doing is helping lead the way for younger journalists. Inspiring us, teaching us, giving us a dose of reality and pointing out the rocks that the journalism ship has hit in the past and as a result is now flooding with debt.

    While we haven’t struck gold yet – at least we are digging.

    Granted you point out, without hesitating, some of the more crappy aspects of being in the journalism industry right now – but one can hardly blame those things on you.

  • jm


    You are correct in your ideas and you are smug and condescending about those. But that’s how you want it.

  • Ron Rosenbaum

    Poor Jeff, so unused to criticism, he’s reduced to sputtering. I said I liked him and his blog because I did, anyway, before he became a meta-bloviator. He’s the one who’s acting childish. (He should read even some of the milder things that people have said about him in private e mails to me congratulating me for taking him on. Has he never been criticized before? or just the second commenter on this post. )

    As for Coehlo I merely quoted his blog entry which quoted something C. said in . Whether J.J. interviewed him or not is irrelevant. In regard to his “reporting” on Google in his book, anyone who reads my column will see I’m having a little fun (okay mocking) his “reverse engineering” idea of reporting. (I pity the CUNY students who are taught that this is “reporting”). Imagine writing about an institution that large without seeking to speak to the people who created it. On one point he’s correct–he was Ground Zero on 9/11, not living near it (something I only mentioned in the first place to evoke sympathy for him–no good deed goes ununished) and I’ll happily ask to correct.

    Meanwhile, Jeff you should realize these are real people–and their families lives–you so cheerfully consider disposable. It’s the heartlessness I was troubled by, and I’d suggest you take a look within and see why you appear so callous.

  • Stan Hogan

    I guess I read the Slate piece from a different perspective. What I saw was this self-anointed

  • @Ron

    I was sympathetic to your article before, trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. But your comment here doesn’t do anything but try to insult Jeff.

    I see your point: Maybe at the end of every blog post Jeff should ask for a moment of silence. But is that his job? Is it his fault if people get laid off? Isn’t that just another form of being annoyingly politically correct?

    Not sure what you are trying to accomplish in the article or this comment other than trying to pick a fight.

    Hey – I loved schoolyard fights too. But in the grown up world nobody likes a bully – even if the person the bully is picking on is a loud mouth that is asking for it.

  • Stan Hogan

    I guess I read the Slate piece from a different perspective. What I saw was this self-anointed savoir being called out.

    I liked that because Jarvis is one of a long line of pontificators who have scolded the newspaper industry for being “too slow” to adapt to the changing media landscape.

    What he and ALL the others have failed to do is point to a successful revenue model. Please don’t say Google, newspapers aren’t search engines looking to expand to content delivery. Newspapers are content delivery experts looking to expand their old money-making ways to the Web.

    No model is out there that supports a big newsroom. No model is out there that finances the great journalism that changes the world and also lets you know what happened at last night’s city council meeting.

    Google and others have fed off our content and grown their own success. We allowed them to do it by following the advice of people like Jarvis who told us we needed to jump head-first into online.

    Well, we have the biggest audience in most of our markets. We’re timely, cool, interactive and financial failures. Jarvis? He wants good money dumped on top of that bad. New message please. We need real help.

  • @Ron Rosenbaum

    Why point the guns at Jarvis? The “real people” you’re advocating for shouldn’t feel slighted by a blogger. They should be mad as hell at the owners, publishers, executives, etc. of the news organizations they work for that got them into this big mess — and also don’t have a plan to get out of it. Perhaps it’s legitimate to gripe that Jarvis sees the trench workers as disposable, but who are the ones TREATING them that way?

    I’ve read more than 7,000 comments from pissed off journalists (shameless plug here) and I can’t recall a one that’s been pissed at Jarvis, but plenty are angry at their employers.

    You want heartless? Take a look at the way the industry treats their own. As far as I can tell, Jarvis has yet to lay off anyone.

  • Glenn

    The crowd, or as we used to refer to them in my company, the potential customers, may not always be right, but they always have the money in their pocket. And in a free society they can spend it on anything they want to. lot of the media guys sound like the buggy manufacturers when the aotomobile came on the scene. “I got it, let’s make ’em have a guy with a red lantern precede them. That’ll make it fair”. Didn’t work then and won’t work now.

  • When that online course is ready, let us know Jeff. I’m in!

  • An online course for reinventing journalism for a web-based information universe. Where do we sign up?

  • Bobby

    Sorry Jeff, but I had the same reaction as Ron, only earlier. You’re a smart guy, but you’ve got a tin ear when it comes to attitude. You may not realize it, but all of your good ideas are couched in a very off-putting, condescending tone. Ok, you’re smart. You’re insightful. But no one likes to read a self-congratulatory blogger who pats himself on the back for being oh-so-much-smarter and oh-so-much-more-insightful than us poor mentally deficient souls, no matter how good his ideas are. Most people who feel the need to do that are usually very insecure or very thin-skinned, or both — you know, the kind of people who bluster and sputter to cover up their fear that someone will accuse them of not knowing what they’re talking about. I think you know what you’re talking about, but damn, man — you need a hug.

  • Mike

    Ron, your article and comments lead to nothing-that is what print newspapers do: you can do all of the expensive reporting from Baghdad you want, but if your “product” is a three page article like the one submitted for slate-it goes nowhere. Oh unless of course a blogger links to it, then an actual conversation can take place and hopefully people can take away something from your work.

    Jeff’s best idea is that the article is no longer the foundation of journalism. That if you want journalism that goes somewhere you need an on-going discussion and analysis of the issues-a way for people to come and go in the conversation, educate themselves and contribute meaningfully-be it in words, audio, or video.

    So instead of writing rants off of the top of your head that will be forgotten tomorrow-why don’t you fucking create something?

  • A bailout for journalism is in the works

  • bigyaz

    Mike: Yeah, news is a conversation and all that — so you’ve been following Jarvis long enough that you can spout his nonsense.

    The Web has no shortage of places where people can link to news stories (all produced elsewhere), bloviate about them and exchange opinions– sometimes even substantive ones. But you (and Jeff and others here) still are not answering the question: Who’s going to do real journalism? Newspaper content (print and online) are being read by more people than ever, and we’re losing our shirts.

    There’s lots of know-it-alls to say “I told you so” and “You dinosaurs just don’t get it,” but it’s all just more of Mr. Jarvis: lots of talk, no results.

  • Rosenbaum,
    You don’t have even the common blog courtesy of linking to this reply.

  • I worked in the mainstream media for 14 years. I now work for an online non profit that does meaningful, in-depth journalism. That’s where this is all going. It’s the only way.

  • Jeff, I agree w/ what Bobby said above:

    “You’re a smart guy, but you’ve got a tin ear when it comes to attitude. You may not realize it, but all of your good ideas are couched in a very off-putting, condescending tone.”

    No, it’s not your job or obligation to have a heart or be nice. But when your tone is so off-putting that it overshadows your message or turns people against what you say just b/c of the way it’s said, maybe you need to reconsider. Sure, you can tell those in your audience who feel this way to deal with it, but that’s kind of like newspapers telling their audiences, “We only do print. Deal with it.” How’s that going to pan out?

  • Ron claims that I am a New Age guru. Please pass the message to him, as his blog does not have a direct place for comments (it is too complicate to leave any post there): he should sit and meditate, become a vegetarian, say OMMMMMMMM 250.352 times a day, smile while saying “Peace and Love” to strangers, read the Bragavad Gita every morning. Only then, he should sit and start blogging. For sure, his text will improve, his bitterness will dissapear.

  • Jonathan

    @Ron — Jeff’s tilting at windmills is impotent and goofy (and possibly cynical), but at least it’s interesting.

    Your sob-job is wayyyy lamer. Go away.

  • AnnB

    I’m a fan of both JJ and RR.

    I read this blog because JJ is plugged-in and interesting although sometimes I do indeed feel there’s no there there, just another conference.

    And the fads, the fads: Hyperlocal,, Facebook, Twitter, and then they just all just fizzle out.

    There are no answers here just information and conversation that may or may not aid in finding the answers.

    As for the commenter who told RR to go do something, oh, but he has. You should read his books.

  • MikeS

    I don’t mind you opinions, Jeff, but rather the incredibly long drawn-out way you convey them. It’s a good thing you’re on the web … I bet you couldn’t write to length like real journalist have to.

  • Comment

    Rosenbaum’s Hitler book was interesting, but his Shakespeare book was a bit weak. As far as this feud goes – who cares?

  • Mike

    Bigyaz: What do you mean real journalism?

    Here is an example from above from rfeidman above in the comments that I am sure fits your definition of “real”:

    To cite one recent example the NY Times dug through various records and found that 90% of the retirees from the Long Island Railroad were also getting disability payments. This led to an ongoing investigation by the railroad as well as the state attorney general.

    That’s great and all, but why is it the responsibility of the NY Times or any newspaper to dig up bullshit like this?

    Here is a quote from Walk Lippman from “Newspapers” written 80 years:

    “ The theory (of democracy) sets up the single reader as theoretically omnicompetent, and puts upon the press the burden of accomplishing whatever representative government, industrial organization, and diplomacy have failed to accomplish. Acting upon everybody for thirty minutes every twenty fours hours, the press is asked to create a mystical force called Public Opinion that will take up the slack of public institutions”

    He later continues:

    (The press) at great moral cost to itself, encouraged a democracy…to expect newspapers to supply spontaneously for every organ of government, for every social problem, the machinery of information which these do not normally supply themselves. Institutions, having failed to furnish themselves with instruments of knowledge, have become a bundle of “problems”, which the population as a whole, reading the press as a whole, is supposed to solve.”

    My words now:

    My guess is you want a more responsive, well run gov’t. And apparently to get there you want newspapers to report on things, and then for those things to magically to get better. You and people like Ron’s wet dream is for Obama to read their article and be so moved that they will be driven to action. And thats the best case scenerio. Thats the expert, closed approach of the past.

    What I am saying is maybe instead of spending a month reporting on something and then running one article that I may or may not read, why don’t you build something that interested people can engage with and actually solve problems with?

    The Long Island rr and everything else needs to run itself, and when a problem there arises we need citizens who are informed and can solve the problem themselves. We can’t depend on the New York times to report on everything-they cant do it and we can’t expect them to.

  • B. Nelson

    …the paper itself had been produced by a number of writers from various New York dailies, including a couple from the New York Times itself. The project had taken about six months and had been funded by a large number of small donors.

    The New York Times said it was “in the process of finding out more” about its imitation.

  • Replace “print journalist” with “auto worker” or “investment banker” and Ron wouldn’t have had any issue with Jeff’s writings about cutbacks. It’s ironic to me that people such as Ron expect some level of mourning and deference for journalists when they don’t show any for other professions. For a profession that prides itself on hard-hitting zingers, there’s an awful lot of whiners when they are on the receiving end. I respect journalists no more or no less than auto workers or countless other professions under wrenching changes. I’d rather move on to solutions than wallow in nostalgia.

    So what is Jeff is crankier than the average Joe. It may not be my style but it’s easy to see past that to plenty of sound insights and he’s walking the talk. For those who’ve commented on him opening up his courses, there’s some merit to that but if you go to, there are links to the presentations at the “New Business Models for News” on video as well as follow-on interviews.

    As one of the “business guys” running a small “pro-am” journalistic enterprise (i.e., a blend of pros and amateurs) after having worked at a large enterprise, the vast majority of Jeff’s points nail it. For those who’ve given up on the notion of an economically viable model for journalism, they needn’t despair. Without the benefit of a foundation or a large corporate backer, we’ve managed to make our hyperlocal sites profitable and are scaling them up now that we’ve begun to crack that nut. I’ve found that our motto of “we make mistakes faster than anybody else” sets us apart to some degree in this risk-averse business. I could list many reasons why most local online journalism fail beyond their risk aversion. It’s quite basic. They’ve failed to understand and articulate the value of their audience to the community and advertisers. They’ve also failed to give them new ad tools that ensure their success. We’ve done those two things reasonably well and businesses are happy to pay for access to our community. The level of innovation on the revenue side of the local journalism business is pathetic from what I’ve observed. The fact that Jeff is shining a light and spreading the word on innovation is something to be applauded and sets him apart. So what if he’s a bit caustic in the process. It gets his observations and insights attention in an industry that needs a huge kick in the behind.

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  • Chris

    It is possible to simultaneously believe …

    1) That Jeff always has a lot of sharp insights and has kept coming up with them for many years;

    2) That Jeff has become progressively more infatuated with his stature and that his opinion of his own brilliance and deep significance just keeps growing;

    3) That print journalists need to hear the tough insights Jeff offers; and

    4) That Jeff hasn’t come close to a coherent answer to the question of where revenue is going to be found to sustain anything close to the level of journalistic thoroughness to which we’ve grown accustomed.

    I live in California, a megastate with an extremely poorly run state government that has grown steadily more dysfunctional. Nevertheless, over the past five years, the print journalists covering Sacramento have been cut by at least half. At important hearings on things like overcrowded prisons or failing schools, hearings where the future of the state is being shaped, sometimes there are no journos in sight. Before long, the Sacramento Bee, the L.A. Times and AP may be the only ones with regularly staffed bureaus in the capital of the nation’s largest, richest state.

    This is not healthy. For all Jeff’s smarts, I’ve never seen him offer a single insight into how this sort of common journalistic decline will be addressed — or at least a single insight that I thought had a practical chance of success.

  • o-shift

    Chris — great comment, dead-on accurate.
    Regarding revenue: Even if you do all the right things as a neighborhood/city blogger provide the community, the networking, the coverage, they can’t come close to making a living. The ad market is brutal. Google doesn’t have a working ad model for blogs that get 80% of their traffic local. Ad prices deflated. These local blogs have to sell ad space door to door and hope for the best. It’s brutal.

    Jeff: If you want to be helpful, point to ways that show how a local blog with 100K visits — 80% local — can make enough to money to pay medical insurance, rent and food. If you want to be useful, solve that problem. Because it’s all crap otherwise.

  • This is my first time to this blog and I’m glad I’ve found it. On the one hand, Mr. Jarvis, your “blog persona” (for I’m assuming it’s not your entire 3-D identity), is a bit condescending and, from that standpoint, requires a thick skin in your readers. Not everybody has that. They can thank you, however, for giving them another subject for an article in Slate or wherever else they get the big bucks.

    True, it is not fair to blame writer/journalists for the failing business models unless you expect them to become the business people as well (and I can see that is precisely what you expect; I wholeheartedly agree).

    The problem is not the journalism, or even the subject matter, but the the apparent difficulty everyone has had with any attempt to reconcile a blog with a newspaper with a “news content website” and to make it profitable. Earth to idealistic, concerned journalists – why do you care about profits? You should care about getting the news out there, whatever way you can!

    There is a way to do this and it is what I will pursue once I take my leave of People magazine (do not discount me for my past associations: fluff pays the rent).

    Knowing full well that there is no way any Internet news aggregate will have a revenue stream approaching that of print products in their heyday, everything will eventually become not-for-profit (which suits me, as a journalist who cares about writing for the public interest, and less about profits).

    Everyone knows that the big media companies “got into” news because it was making money, and not because they had any interest in the Jeffersonian ideal of Democracy’s 4th Estate. It makes sense that those companies would not try their hardest at reviving print. They want the next quarter’s profits, not a sustainable public service. We have to find a way to sustain the public service, by whatever means necessary.

    That means don’t rely on the suits. Folks, we are going to have to do this ourselves. Learn HTML, CSS, and brush up on your skills in perusing legal documents while you’re at it, you young ones. Get a BlackBerry that’s not paid for by “the man” and get to that investigation.

    You’ll find that if you produce a good product, you’ll attract readers, who’ll attract advertisers.

  • dieselm

    The newspaper/magazine business as it stands is about attracting advertising.
    The only notable growth in the media business is Google.

    What google has as much connection to reporters as Samsung, a memory manufacturer, has to manufacturers of film, audiotape, videotape, file cabinets, compact discs, or paper.

    It’s apples and oranges. From a market standpoint, writing better articles or doing better journalism is akin to making higher quality videotape or less-grainy faster developing film. Interesting, but ultimately pointless. But it’s even worse than that. The quality of journalism is falling even as people are less willing to pay for it.

    In theory, an independent media serves as a check on power. But we’ve long since lost that. So I don’t know what to do.

  • Avner Kashtan

    Mike: I feel that your response shows a lack of understanding of the power – and responsibility – of journalism. Investigative journalism isn’t meant to make the government suddenly notice a flaw and fix it. The purpose is to alert the population, the readers, to malfeasance and corruption happening behind the scenes, so they can demand of their elected officials to act on it. It’s not a direct part of the democratic power structure, it’s a tool to give the voters the information they need to exercise their power wisely.

    You say “we need citizens who are informed and can solve the problem themselves” – but how do you expect them to be informed?

    You say “We can’t depend on the New York times to report on everything” – but can a purely voluntary, grassroots “citizen journalist” movement cover everything?

    I don’t want print newspapers – there’s nothing sacred or holy about the physical medium. What I want is the norms and standards of print journalism translated to the digital world, and that’s something that seldom gets mentioned.

    This is also what Rosenbaum was complaining about. The journalists are not at fault here – they did their journalism work, which is as relevant as it would be had their newspaper published it online. Jarvis seems to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, equating journalism with newspaper-publishing.

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  • While I sympathise with anyone who loses their job, there’s a lot to be said for running down the old media, cruel as it may appear to those still clinging to it.

    As someone who’s teaching journalism, Jarvis would be wrong to be doing anything else. I, for one, was saved by the new media evangelists and am grateful to them for it.

    About four years ago I was in the final few months of my MA in Journalism, which even then was a course taught by dinosaurs, with only the occasional concession that “the internet is the future” and a patchy module on online journalism.

    It was only when I started blogging that I realised that print journalism was going nowhere fast, mainly due to bloggers of Jeff Jarvis’ ilk.

    Had I stuck with print, as friends of mine did, I too would be looking over my shoulder every five minutes and would probably be on here bitching, desperately, about how Jeff Jarvis hasn’t found me a new economically viable career.

    Another reason I ditched the traditional media was that I naively believed in the idea of the fourth estate, but found the old media model didn’t live up to its own hype.

    If the old media didn’t exist for profit, and actually was some sort of public institution responsible for protecting society from the state, I’d describe it for the most part as being severely corrupt and vertically controlled by a handful of monopolistic megalomaniacs, in spite of the fact that there are indeed many wonderful people trying to do great things within it.

    New media could go the same way, but at least this time around there’s an army of people willing to resist it (the various internet freedom groups and legions of bloggers). Why? Because the people, for all their faults (most of which they share with the mainstream media), are now the media. The Time ‘Man Of The Year’ cover that told us that ‘You’ are the man of the year wasn’t just a bit of clever marketing bluff, it identified a simple truth.

    Jarvis’ ego, as he’s mentioned on numerous occasions himself, is one that needs feeding. But at least he’s honest about it. How often does a newspaper editor admit to his own ego in say, an op-ed piece?

    And how often will you see brackets in a magazine saying [Full Disclosure: We take substantial advertising payments from that company and therefore might be swayed in our reporting on such and such]?

    That said, bloggers do shamelessly self-promote, in the same way each and every media channel, whether old or new, does. Let’s face it, you’d be an idiot not to.

    As for the fads, welcome to the new media landscape. The fads aren’t just a transition phase from old to new, they’re going to be a permanent part of the landscape. And all of us, whether we’re from the new media or the old media, will have to try and adapt to the next one, because that’s where the readers will be.

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  • John, Sterling, Va.

    Once newspapers’ content was made available for free in the Web’s early days, nothing was going to put that horse back in the barn. Even if paid online subscriptions had taken hold, the technology then allowed for too many back doors to get to it for free anyway. The New York Times tried a little with TimesSelect, but had to give up, and that was putting only a few items like the op-eds behind a paid wall. People still would copy op-eds like Paul Krugman’s and post them elsewhere anyway. The Wall Street Journal is a notable exception because its content is/was specialized for an industry that wanted it and could afford it/write off the expense.

    It’s Craigslist, Freecycle and the superior functionality that auto, real estate and jobs Web sites have that unintentionally is killing newspapers. When newspaper classifieds were the only game in town, papers could charge a ton for a spot of agate type that in physical dimensions was about 1 1/2 inches wide by an inch or so deep. There’s nothing that can replace that lost revenue — certainly not the Web when a banner ad can go for about $20 per 1,000 impressions. Let’s hear solutions to that conundrum. Hello?

    So what will we be left with? Are reporters supposed to work for nothing out of the goodness of their hearts? I guess, the way some alleged “experts” talk. Meanwhile, government and corporate malfeasance can expand almost unabated because so many newspaper watchdogs are disappearing, especially at the state and local levels. As newsrooms shrink nationwide, their traditional oversight roles are evaporating, replaced by a greater reliance on the AP (and many challenged papers are even deciding they can’t afford the AP.) They are not and will not be replaced by so-called “citizen journalists” who, if they have to work for nothing, would be motivated by their own agendas, rendering their work suspect — as if there isn’t enough suspicion of bias in the press. That potential to undermine the healthy functioning of our democracy is for me the scariest part of all.

    With what’s at stake, newspapers’ death spiral is nothing to gloat about. So stop kicking them while they are down and start being constructive allies with positive ideas for their salvation. I only wish I had the answers.

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  • boqueronman

    I’m just a consumer of news, not a practicing professional. Therefore, here’s a couple of observations from the audience. There’s a lot of talk here about the understanding, or ignorance, of the internet. That’s a medium, not the message. In a 150 page comprehensive business plan of how to reform the news business, that issue probably wouldn’t take up more than a small part of one chapter. Also, anybody remember “objectivity?” I used to remember when the sick pony of print journalism, the NYT, was a respectable newspaper. There was news and there was editorializing. Yes, it’s quite clear that reporting cannot be purely unbiased. But it is clear to news consumers, if not journalists, that the borders between entertainment, editorial positions and news reporting have been blurred and, thanks to the last election, have now largely disappeared. Regaining lost ground should be part of a recovery plan. Thanks for the comment space.

  • Barry

    Jeff, I would like to see you respond to what I interpret as a main part of Rosenbaum’s critique of your work, which is that your tone has become, of late, so gloating and arrogant that it begins to detract from the mission we are all on, ie, figuring out what happens next for journalism. Even if you’re completely certain that Rosenbaum has nothing to teach you on the more “substantive” issues, I think you would do well to reflect on his criticisms of your tone. Titling your response “There, there, Ron” is not a good start.

  • Michael Litos

    We’re near 70 comments, and this could not be more frustrating.

    How does Jeff’s “persona” or skin thickness even matter? Shouldn’t the key point be the discussion and the issue? How Jeff responded to someone’s attack is irrelevant, and even his biggest fans have to admit there are posts that are less useful than others.

    I’ll tune in tomorrow, thanks. Perhaps interjecting the personalities is part of the problem. So people have big egos. So what?

    Oh, and sign me up for the web course.

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  • Michael Litos,

    You’re absolutely right. The snarky discussion about snarkiness gets us nowhere at all. (Barry: This isn’t about me. It’s about journalism and journalists and newspapers and thus the nation. Even I wouldn’t talk about me this much.)

    I am working on a post that will try to sum up where I think the industry needs to go and another on publicness. In the meantime, I have work to do (which is to say, meetings to attend, including one I just left on the fate of newspapers.)

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  • symptomatic

    “Those aren’t fish you’re downsizing…”—well, Ron has a point, though he reads Jeff’s argument in the bluntest way possible.

    That said, the spectacle of Rosenbaum—who’s made his name as a journalist by writing almost exclusively on the topic of What Ron Rosenbaum Thinks About X (or, more precisely, What Ron Rosenbaum Thinks About Ron Rosenbaum Thinking About X)—calling out another writer for an excess of ego is one of the most hubrilicious entertainments the Web has seen in a long time.

  • Andy Freeman

    > I live in California, a megastate with an extremely poorly run state government that has grown steadily more dysfunctional. Nevertheless, over the past five years, the print journalists covering Sacramento have been cut by at least half. At important hearings on things like overcrowded prisons or failing schools, hearings where the future of the state is being shaped, sometimes there are no journos in sight. Before long, the Sacramento Bee, the L.A. Times and AP may be the only ones with regularly staffed bureaus in the capital of the nation’s largest, richest state.

    > This is not healthy. For all Jeff’s smarts, I’ve never seen him offer a single insight into how this sort of common journalistic decline will be addressed — or at least a single insight that I thought had a practical chance of success.

    While it is true that CA is going into the crapper and the number of journalists covering the state govt has gone down, there’s absolutely no reason to believe that increasing the number of journalists covering the state govt would help CA.

    Journalists have been cheerleading for the things that are driving CA down. Occasionally, like the police lieutenant in Casablanca, they notice gambling (example – the NYT story that a publically run system is being gamed) but they never stop cheerleading for the “root causes”.

  • Symptomatic,

    This is all finally made worth it for the word “hubrillicious.”

  • Ron,

    Are you ever going to link to my response? It really is common blog courtesy.

  • The fact remains that the rise of Craig’s List and the decline of print removes the revenue stream for much of real journalism, but we still need somebody keeping an eye on the day-to-day machinations of our governments. Blogistan gets all excited about elections, but has very little interest in the day-to-day stuff.

    So leaving the poor, unemployed former journalists aside for the moment, exactly how is our democracy supposed to survive the death of reporting?

  • Basil

    “Meanwhile, Jeff you should realize these are real people–and their families lives–you so cheerfully consider disposable.”

    The cheerfulness is the issue here. It’s hard on regular workers when an industry has to shrink. It’s also generally not their fault.

  • Basil


    “how is our democracy supposed to survive the death of reporting?”

    Anything that can be done for free eventually will be. The force of people performing skilled tasks that are usually paid without remuneration has proved to be reliable. It’s built operating systems and encyclopedias.

    Reporting is a task that requires experience and skill, but not more than programming or editing a encyclopedia. Democracy will be fine.

  • So where exactly is the Wikipedia of reporting on the California Legislature, Basil?

    Certainly we do have crappy open source software and a crappy online encyclopedia, but these projects are supported by monied interests who donate money and labor to them.

    I don’t see anybody willing to sponsor reporting in the same way.

  • Basil

    The work will happen when there’s a need for it. For example: Groklaw sprang up because of a gap in the market for information at the time.

    In general, I’d say that the market for reporting will shrink, but never disappear. If there’s a profit to be made on reporting something specific, there will be a company that will do it. California Legislature will be served the same way it is currently until the profits disappear (if they do), at which point someone who follows it will take up the task.

    What do you postulate is crappy about open source software? It’s not for everything, but what it is used for, it does quite well.

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  • symptomatic

    @richard bennett

    “I don’t see anybody willing to sponsor reporting in the same way.”

    I don’t know how well it’s working, but ( is trying a new approach.

  • Todd Melnick

    Founding editor of Entertainment Weekly. There are surfers and there are tillers. Jarvis is a surfer. Were we all surfers the world would die.

  • Larso

    I think Ron has a point. I’m no expert on the topics discussed here (which is why I read this blog), but I feel like the tone of Jeff’s writing has become more self-aggrandizing at the cost of insightfulness over the past four years that I’ve been reading it. Maybe Ron goes overboard with the invective towards the end of his piece, but Jeff’s sarcastic response is unwarranted and unbecoming.

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  • Mel Toddnick

    @Todd: Doodd, untwist your Melnickers for a second, if only so that you have a hand free to fill out your application to metaphor school. “There are surfers and there are tillers”? As any half-smart LOLcat would say, “O RLY?”

    Ad hominem attacks are, as Larso would have it, “unwarranted and unbecoming.”

    BTW, tillers are just turning the same old dirt over and over. Where’s the law-librarianly glory in that?

  • Zenvendof Zeno

    As someone who is in another rapidly changing industry, having the same kind of situation every time some new tech or terms come along (I am in Software Industry, Web 2.0, AJAX, whatever the latest buzzing words) there will be people who brilliantly pitched the new gospel and people who believes in the legacy who decries it. The truth (my 2 cents naturally) probably is some where between the two.

    I believe traditional media will continue to exist but it will evolve to where the market is (multi platform or otherwise), there is a large portion of demographics who still perfers to pick up a news paper and read it, even through it’s increasingly become bite sized for “consumption”.

    Thanks for the education to both on this topic.

  • All these newspaper people talking about all of this great journalism that’s been created are really only talking about one or two newspapers doing all of this wonderful reporting. Okay, we’ll let you keep the New York Times and another paper of your choice. But in the years leading up to the Internet and certainly during the explosion of digital media in recent years, a majority of newspapers in America weren’t putting out award winning, deeply researched, expensive reporting. They were putting out crap while the publishers racked up record profits. While these same knucklehead publishers continued to choose money over quality journalism, the news consuming public found a new home on the web. Print is now dead, it will never return to what it once was. You can take exception with Jeff’s style, but you can’t deny that what he’s saying is true. For those who keep demanding to know, right now, how will all of this new journalism be paid for, I want to ask another question: Will you be prepared when the answer hits you in the face? The process of moving to all digital news platforms is already happening. If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a lot of layoffs in the newspaper industry lately The newspaper infrastructure is being dismantled right before your eyes, but sadly many of the newspaper crazies that have commented on this site continue to want to fight battles that have been long lost.

  • EB

    @robertdfeinman & @nancy hass both ask essentially the same question:

    How is the expensive, and impactful, journalism (eg: iraq, investigations) that newspapers have traditionally done going to be funded in the new media world?

    They seem to imply (and correct me if i’m wrong here) that, if the new world doesn’t have a plan for funding that kind of journalism, then the new world is wrong. Or that anyone advocating that we dive into the new world is… misguided?

    Here’s the thing, though — the question is irrelevant.

    It’s irrelevant because the old world is dying, and it is going to die irrespective of whether the new world has figured anything out or not. This is a fact all of us who care about journalism have to come to grips with.

    The good news is that, eventually, new forms *will* emerge to fill the old world’s place. The new forms will perform just as important journalism as the old world. We will learn about what’s going on in Iraq. Wrongdoing will be exposed.

    What new forms? you might ask. Where are they? Show them to me.

    So here’s the thing. They haven’t been figured out yet. They will only emerge through a long series of experiments. That’s how innovation works. You try something, throw it up against the wall, see what sticks, learn from what worked and what didn’t, and then try again. But the thing to remember — and maybe this is hard to grasp for folks who haven’t worked in an industry where innovation is de rigeur (that’s not intended as a slight, just a description) — the fact that we haven’t *yet* figured them out doesn’t mean we never will. We will.

    At this point, people usually ask: But who’s going to *fund* these experiments? Answer: The experiments are already happening. Everywhere. ProPublica is an experiment^ (I actually don’t think it’s going to succeed long-term, but it doesn’t matter. They’re going to learn some very useful things in the process). Talking Points Memo is one giant experiment. Huff Po and Huff Po/Off the Bus are experiments. Politico, and now Politico 44, are experiments. is an experiment. is an experiment. and and are all experiments. There are tons more going on, and there will be tons more in the future.

    The next question is usually: But these guys, these experiments, they can’t do everything that newspapers have been doing. What’s going to happen to all the local coverage? The investigative reporting? The international coverage? A lot of important news is going to fall through the cracks.

    Yes, you’re right. They can’t. Stuff *is* going to fall through the cracks. We *are* going to go through a period where stuff that used to get covered doesn’t, because there is no outlet to do it. Is it regrettable? Absolutely. But is it nevertheless inevitable? Also yes. There’s nothing to be done about it — except to participate in the experiments going on to find the new forms. The more people participating, the more experiments taking place, the faster the learning, and the quicker we find the answers.

    Bemoaning the fact that the new world has not figured out how to do all the journalism that newspapers used to do is not a useful response to our current plight. Diving in, and participating in the search for new forms, is.


    ^ By “experiment”, I don’t mean that these aren’t serious enterprises. I just mean that they’re one person or group of people’s stab at figuring out new ways of delivering the news. They’re guesses about what might work. And as such, they’re experiments.

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  • Avner Kashtan

    Jeff Jarvis: There have been many questions raised in these comments, both personal (about your attitude) and topical (about the role of citizen journalism vs. funded journalism, the difference between the journalist and the publisher, etc). Yet, you respond to none and only make repetitive demands to be linked to – a common courtesy, no doubt, but not much more than that. Will you respond to the issues as well?

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  • Trampoline

    Jarvis is smug, unctuous, and not nearly as bright as he thinks he is. Same goes for Tom Friedman, and Faith Popcorn (remember her?), and whoever wrote “What Color Is My Parachute.” These gurus serve as courtiers, and nothing more.

    It’s true that the media companies are badly managed. They always have been, but only recently have they been going out of business. The idea that the reporters themselves are to blame is preposterous: For someone who (like all courtiers) wants to “listen to the market,” Jeff Jarvis is strangely willing to ignore the most fundamental of Adam Smith’s fundamentals.

    The specialization of labor, and the trading of its fruits, occurs throughout a modern economy, and that includes within organizations. Reporters trade their output for the business skills of their managers. Unfortunately, reporters have gotten the shorter end of that stick recently. They probably always have, and it’s only a particularly challenging environment that is exposing how bad the trade has always been.

    But the idea that reporters are also required to be publishers and promoters is foolish. Some people, maybe not these ones but someone, is going to be better at publishing, and someone else is going to be better at reporting, and someone else is going to be better at copy editing, and so on. Jarvis, ignoring the fundamental principle of specialization of labor, lumps them all together and blames the reporters for the publishers’ sins.

    This tells me that Jarvis knows nothing about reporting. I don’t have his resume in front of me, but I’d be willing to bet that he hasn’t committed any journalism in a mighty long time, because if he had done so then he wouldn’t be visiting the publishers’ sins upon their staffs.

    Or maybe Jarvis knows about reporting, but has decided that the courtier’s task right now is to kick reporters while they are down. Next, he will move on to blaming the auto workers on the assembly lines for General Motor’s inability to design cars that people would be willing to buy, or Ford’s disastrous and money-losing acquisitions of Jaguar and Volvo.

    This is the task of a courtier: To ride on someone else’s coattails until the day where they look around and see that the king has died and the court needs new courtiers. Karma’s a bitch, Jeff, and she’ll get ya.

  • Since you’re wondering… I was a reporter for many years (Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, back to the Detroit Free Press), a writer for many years (People, TV Guide), an editor for many years (Chicago, San Francisco, and Sunday editor of the NY Daily News), and in my last life I spent 12 years in charge of starting and running web sites for 28 papers in America for the Newhouses at Advance.

    I’m well-experienced with reporting and with newsrooms and I’m even more acquainted with trying to get newspaper people to look to the future and build for the web. My frustration in hitting the wall is why I left to teach students who really will be the future. After I left, I have to say that I have seen considerable change in attitude and openness to doing new things. My fear is that it is too late, way too late.

    There are leaders in this business — like John Robinson at the N &O and Jennifer Carroll at Gannett and Jim Brady at the WaPo and Dwight Silverman at the Houston Chronicle and Ed Silverman at the Star-Ledger, ranking from editors to reporters who did learn and try new things — and there’s no reason that the majority of newsrooms couldn’t have as well. But they didn’t … until it was too late.

    But blaming them is not my point. In my Guardian column, which I quote above, I said that journalists must be responsible for the future of journalism and so they can’t abdicate their responsibility for the past; it goes hand-in-hand. I say all this because I want them to see that responsibility and take it seriously and act aggressively — while they still can.

  • Trampoline

    And Jeff, when was the last time you actually did any reporting?

  • For my book, for various Guardian columns. And by the way, who are you? Are you a reporter?

  • symptomatic

    Perhaps the time has come to take refuge in Godwin’s Law [].

    Someone should just come right out and compare Jarvis to Hitler (whom Rosenbaum has already so helpfully explained for us all). Then we could knot this thread with a nice, tidy -30- and, agreeing to disagree about whether/to what degree/if at all working journalists were complicit in the erosion of their industry, move on to some more productive discussion about what we can possibly and profitably (in both the financial and non-financial senses) do now.

    And @Trampoline? Now that Jarvis has shown us his, are you willing to show us yours?

  • You’re reminding me of too many conversations I had in newsrooms since 1994:

    * Editors who refused to allow their stories to appear online except when forced and only after they’d been printed.

    * Reporters and editors who, very often, said that they wouldn’t link out to anyone else because they were the ones who owned trust and they wouldn’t trust anyone else.

    * Editors and reporters who refused to be trained in the simplest tools of online – blogging.

    * Editors and reporters who wanted only to put up PDFs of their newspapers online.

    * Editors and reporters who hated comments from readers and wanted them all killed.

    * Editors who tried to insist that their brands be nowhere near any online content or interactivity.

    And so on. All reporters and editors? No. The vast majority? Absolutely. Do I hold them responsible? Yes. Do they now hold themselves responsible? Yes. Is it too late? It very likely may be; it certainly is for many of them who are out of jobs and whose papers may soon die.

    But again, that’s not the point of my piece. I’ll say it once more: They need to take responsibility for the past to have responsibility for the future. I want them to have that responsibility. I do trust and respect them. But they can’t sit back and play victim; that will get them and us nowhere. They must take charge of the fate of journalism, nothing less than that. I’m not putting myself in that position. I’m putting them in that position.

  • Trampoline

    Jeff, I am talking about reporting not opinionating. There is a difference.

  • Trampoline

    All of the sins you’ve listed are decisions that belong with publishers. And none of them are relevant to what has killed the journalism business, which is a combination of falling circulation and declining ad revenue. “Linking out” wouldn’t have solved any of this. To say that it would is a dodge. It serves the purposes of a courtier with a book to sell, but nothing else.

    As for my background, it doesn’t matter. I could be the King of Jupiter or the head of the World Bank. None of it would matter for purposes of this discussion.

  • symptomatic

    I, too, have worked in big-media companies where the rank and file refuse to learn about and/or engage with digital media (by which I mean blogs, forums, video, or anything else beyond the page).

    @Trampoline, if you are indeed such an expert, throw down. Your background *does* matter, for it gives the rest of us in this discussion some sense of whether you’re arguing from experience or just pissing windward.

    I’d say you’re already all wet.

  • Mike Manitoba

    Let’s make it easier. Jeff, list five stories you’ve broken in the last ten years.

  • Trampoline (and again, who are you?),

    Linking out gets you links back, which gets you Googlejuice, which gets you traffic, which gets you audience, which gets you Google ads, which gets you revenue. I learned that clearly at, which is the only salvation in The Times’ P&L.

    And, no, it was the editors and reporters who yelled at me: “We’re not going to link out. nobody trusts them. People trust only us.” Oh, yeah?

    Right now, Trampoline, I’m not going to trust you until you have the balls to say who you are.

  • symptomatic

    @Mike Manitoba, I’m not being a shill for JJ. I’m just doing what I’d do (and have done) as a reporter and editor:

    Make it easier for all of us by listing five stories *you’ve* broken in the last ten years (with links).

    In other words, show us your clips.

  • Well, Mike, I think I can get extra credit for starting a magazine and a dozen market-leading web sites that altogether created a few hundred jobs.

    There’s also this:

    And this:

    And this:

    And this:

    And this:

    And this:

    And this:

    And this:

    Woodstein, it’s not. But there are a few clips done in spare time.

    And you?

    We could keep this game going but it’s quite pointless. The better discussion is about the future paths of journalism.

    Let’s see your ideas, accomplishments, clips, anything.

  • Yes and my teeth are crooked. Let’s talk about the issues or get lives, shall we?

  • “Warren,” whoever you are, you don’t know what you’re talking about. “Teetering on bankruptcy”? Sources? Attribution? Facts? Reality? I’m done playing your game now. You’re not talking issues. Good night.

  • Trampoline

    symptomatic, I’m just pissing windward, like Jeff.

    Jeff, I am the King of Jupiter.

  • Trampoline

    By the way, Jeff, how long has Google existed, and what happens when Google decides to change its formula?

  • What happens when the monopoly newspaper in town decides to change its coverage? The risk is there and similar.

  • Oh, and your identity matters to your credibility. You, like other snipers here, don’t have the conviction of your words to stand behind them. At least Rosenbaum did. I have said often and will say once more that I give less credence and trust to what you say as a result. So it does matter who you are.

  • Chris

    Rick Hancock’s comment shows the ignorance of the conventional Jarvis wisdom crowd in this debate:

    “All these newspaper people talking about all of this great journalism that’s been created are really only talking about one or two newspapers doing all of this wonderful reporting. Okay, we’ll let you keep the New York Times and another paper of your choice. But in the years leading up to the Internet and certainly during the explosion of digital media in recent years, a majority of newspapers in America weren’t putting out award winning, deeply researched, expensive reporting. They were putting out crap while the publishers racked up record profits. While these same knucklehead publishers continued to choose money over quality journalism, the news consuming public found a new home on the web.”

    This either presumes that this debate is solely about national journalism, or that local journalism that isn’t spellbinding and groundbreaking isn’t worth doing and won’t be missed. To repeat what I wrote above …

    I live in California, a megastate with an extremely poorly run state government that has grown steadily more dysfunctional. Nevertheless, over the past five years, the print journalists covering Sacramento have been cut by at least half. At important hearings on things like overcrowded prisons or failing schools, hearings where the future of the state is being shaped, sometimes there are no journos in sight. Before long, the Sacramento Bee, the L.A. Times and AP may be the only ones with regularly staffed bureaus in the capital of the nation’s largest, richest state.

    This is not healthy. For all Jeff’s smarts, I’ve never seen him offer a single insight into how this sort of common journalistic decline will be addressed — or at least a single insight that I thought had a practical chance of success.

  • Chris,
    A fair challenge. I am working on a post summarizing what I think is a possible scenario.

  • In response to Chris (No last name given), if I’m showing my ignorance then EVERY journalist should consider being as dumb as you say I am. Since leaving traditional journalism three years ago and becoming an entrepreneurial multimedia journalist I make more now than I ever had working for the “Man,” I have way more independence to work on the stories I want to work on and because I’ve learned how to use just a few basic multimedia tools like blogging and audio-video editing I’m pretty much employable for the foreseeable future. So, if a Black man living in New England can make a decent financial living doing this; of course I’m going to be optimistic about the future of journalism. Now, back to what Chris (No last name given) said about my first comment. My comment was in response to several earlier posts that cited great journalism produced by mega newspapers like the NYT. The NYT, WashPo and few other papers will probably survive and maybe even thrive financially in the coming years. But let’s be honest here, many daily newspapers just plain suck. Just because you work for a newspaper doesn’t automatically mean you’re producing great reporting. If you want to say that all online journalism isn’t yet up to par to some quality newspaper operations, fine. But it’s also true that many newspaper reporters also suck at what they do.
    Chris, (no last name given), it sounds like you are an intelligent person who is deeply concerned about how your government is being run by politicians and also how they are being covered by journalists. Instead of complaining and calling me ignorant, what are you prepared to do? It’s not clear if you are a journalist are someone who cares about journalism. Either way, it doesn’t matter. What’s preventing you from reporting on the activities of state government? You don’t need a license to be a journalist, in fact you don’t need a newspaper to be a journalist. All you need is a desire to speak truth to power, an ability to ask clear and concise questions and most of all be transparent and ethical in your reporting. We all agree there is a market for great reporting, my broader point is that we don’t have to wait for the corporate media masters to get their acts together to ensure our continued existence. The web has allowed us to better fend for ourselves. Whether you want to take part in this revolution is totally up to you.

  • I’m now instituting the rule using sparingly before: If all you do is come to insult, I will kill the comment. Say anything you like in strong disagreement about issues, great. But drive-by snipings add nothing. If you did it at my home, I’d get you off my property. This is my home. And if you have a complaint, well, note Rosenbaum’s nonlinking policy first.

  • Trampoline

    Ah, now Jeff defines his critics as “snipers” and will commence deleting their comments at will. I am shocked, just shocked.

  • “Warren,”
    Note the date: July. The paper reached agreements with employees and all unions and will continue publishing at Advance., the online site, is a different company under the corporate roof and there was no discussion of sale of it. I worked on the online side.

  • Trampoline, whoever you are,
    Have a blog of your own? Care to write there under your own name? Have the guts to? Links would then appear here. But that’s not as much fun as just sniping, is it? You’d have to have something of substance to say. Happy to talk about the issues with you. Not going to tolerate attacks for the sake of them. Why should I? Why would anyone? You might have more credence in this discussion if you had the guts to say who you are.

  • Trampoline

    Jeff, my identity shouldn’t be an issue. I haven’t raised any topics or made any claims that would make it relevant. If it would make you feel better, I could invent a name and a biography, but I don’t see the point. As for tolerating attacks, well, maybe in one of your new media cheerleading seminars, you could discuss the tendency of the blogs to be echo chambers, as opposed to the dead-tree media that try to incorporate dissent.

  • Well, Tramp, I would call this dissent on a blog. Hmmmm.

    (Note that newspapers, too, would not allow themselves to become vehicles for anonymous personal attacks.)

  • Your identity is an issue because it speaks to your courage to stand behind what you say. I do. Rosenbaum does. You don’t.

  • Trampoline

    How would knowing my name change anything? You wouldn’t give my opinions any more credence. You’re a self-described egotist with a point of view, and it’s not going to change. You know that, I know that, and anyone who reads your blog knows that.

    By focusing on my name, and your labeling of those who don’t buy into your self promotion, you are merely dodging any discussion of the substance of your ideas, such as they are. This is a tactic of con men since time immemorial. Jeff, you think you’re good, but you’re actually boring and unoriginal. I’ve seen your movie many times before.

  • Knowing your name would at least confirm that you have the courage to stand behind your insults. But you don’t. So how much attention do I pay to your insults? You guess the answer.

  • For example, seeing that you have the same IP address as someone named Charley who who was upset that I supported Hillary Clinton, we can see perhaps where at least some of your animus comes from. That’s relevant. Haven’t you heard that one of the ethics of blogs is transparency? I’d say your other views are relevant to our opinion. You know all mine.

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  • Trampoline

    Jeff, my cable provider assigns “dynamic I.P. addresses,” so this “Charley” person could have been anyone. I couldn’t possibly care less who you supported for president.

  • It’s relevant either way. Tranasparency breeds trust. Opaqueness breeds distrust. You don’t trust me and my readers to know who you are. So why should we trust your opinions? We cannot judge your self-interest.

  • Trampoline

    Jeff, it’s funny to see you evade the subject. Why are you so afraid to discuss your ideas? Here’s why: You’re clearly none too confident of your point of view, or you wouldn’t spend all of this time with all of this pointless dodging.

  • Evade which subject? I lost your antecedent in this thread.

  • Trampoline

    See my comment at 2:18 p.m. Jeff, you keep dancing around. It’s becoming more than a little ludicrous.

  • All you did at 2:18 is insult me. What do you expect me to say? I have other things to do now. I hope you do, too.

  • Jeff asks: “So how much attention do I pay to your insults?”

    By my count from the above comments, you pay him about 284 words-worth of attention. Which, I think, might be a little too much :)

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  • ban

    By focusing on my name, and your labeling of those who don’t buy into your self promotion, you are merely dodging any discussion of the substance of your ideas, such as they are. This is a tactic of con men since time immemorial.