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January 17, 2009

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Jay Rosen

"Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen and others are suggesting things like the entire L.A. market can be adequately covered by 35 people tops, and that that somehow is a kind of 'new reality' of journalism, and we should just take this medicine and we should like it..."

This is a complete fantasy-- in fact a lie. In the particulars and the general impression. I never said it, I never proposed it, I don't believe it. It has nothing to do with me, and you better change it. You didn't bother to check it because you can't check it. It's false. It has no reality. Clear enough?

Chris Boese

Jay, my apologies for the out of context association with those supporting the restructuring of the field of journalism into online-only or primarily online enterprises. My full quotation is here:

"Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen and others are suggesting things like the entire L.A. market can be adequately covered by 35 people tops, and that that somehow is a kind of "new reality" of journalism, and we should just take this medicine and we should like it, and not be utterly outraged at what it would mean for coverage.

When I invoke Jarvis and Rosen, I am not implying that they speak with identical voices, advocate the same things, or even advocate this specific thing. They are just the leading voices for this structural revisioning of journalism that to me seems like a lot of rationalization of things I can't stomach, especially in terms of its ramifications for what the public will get to know about the functioning of its biggest institutions. The disappearance of the already disappearing watchdog. That is my lament. I don't disagree that certain interactive structures and content distribution channels are changing drastically, and largely to get lagging old media in line with the new media forms."

Please note what I said: "When I invoke Jarvis and Rosen, I am not implying that they speak with identical voices, advocate the same things, or even advocate this specific thing. They are just the leading voices for this structural revisioning of journalism that to me seems like a lot of rationalization of things I can't stomach, especially in terms of its ramifications for what the public will get to know about the functioning of its biggest institutions."

I did not mean to imply you said such a specific thing, nor Jarvis. The subject has been bandied about, discussed in forums, and is part of the heated debate, which you and many others have waded into.

I will be happy to make note of your protest within the text of my post. I have followed your writing for many years, and commented on your blog. I am closely familiar with your positions, and your bold stance toward restructuring that you believe is necessary in the field, and agree with a great deal of it.

However, I tend to call out with more urgency the great losses the field is suffering in staffing, something I believe is being glossed over in all the embrace of interactivity. All the interactive forms in the world will not save us from the sheer loss of bodies, of reporter eyeballs in the field, something that remains devastating to me, and I believe will have far reaching and quite ugly ramifications, if the field survives at all.

casuist

Boese: [...] Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen and others are suggesting things like the entire L.A. market can be adequately covered by 35 people tops [...]

Rosen: I never expressed, suggested, or implied what you say I said.

Boese: [...] Please note what I said: "When I invoke Jarvis and Rosen, I am not implying that they speak with identical voices, advocate the same things, or even advocate this specific thing. They are just the leading voices for this structural revisioning of journalism that to me seems like a lot of rationalization of things I can't stomach, especially in terms of its ramifications for what the public will get to know about the functioning of its biggest institutions."I did not mean to imply you said such a specific thing, nor Jarvis. The subject has been bandied about, discussed in forums, and is part of the heated debate, which you and many others have waded into [...]

Can anyone tell me what Boese's response is supposed to mean?

g.

Jay Rosen

The context does not change what I just told you: I said what you wrote is a lie. Get it? I never said LA can be covered by 35 people. I never thought it. It's pure demagoguery-- engineered by you! I never suggested people should accept that proposition and get used to it. You aren't remembering something you heard from me, and you aren't paraphrasing anything I wrote.

If you feel something is being glossed over by certain people, fine. Call it out. Before you make me into an object of your disgust, and encourage other people to be equally disgusted, you better be clear about what I said. This is your fantasy. You need someone to represent a view you want to rage against. I am not going to be that person because it's not my view.

Chris Boese

casuist, since I am Boese, I could reply, if you asked me, instead of posing your question to the world at large.

I am saying that Jarvis and Rosen are two figures playing point roles in calling for (each very different) types of restructuring in the field of journalism, along with many other people. Many are following the debates, many taking different positions, many quite heated, with one consistent factor: the field is going through an utter washout, right now.

Hence, the urgency and heatedness in many responses. We care deeply about this stuff. It matters. It will change the social fabric of our world.

Some take the position that the washout is a good thing, let's make hay with it. Some say, let's make lemonade from lemons. Some rage against it. Some fall somewhere inbetween.

Jay Rosen is someone I greatly admire for being on the leading edge of interactive forms of journalism, advocating for them, and for some of the structural changes they will bring.

Jeff Jarvis, on the other hand, while seeming to advocate for many of the same things as Rosen, I believe takes a much more extreme view on key factors, and I find it difficult to engage some of his more radical ideas.

Between those two, however, are many shades of gray which are part of the debate, far outside the Luddite reactionism of many in the traditional press, and that is a space I find most interesting in terms of interactivity.

BUT, none of that can be accomplished if there is a drastic attrition and destruction of the career of journalism by practicing, veteran, professional journalists. We need those people. We need them badly. I doubt that Rosen would disagree with me there at all. I think it is more my late night writing style that he primarily disagrees with, and for that, I do apologize.

Chris Boese

Jay,

I'm sorry to have written something you say mischaracterizes your position so strongly. I will happily remove you from that sentence altogether, for it was not (and never would be) my intention to claim you made that statement specifically, nor to claim that Jarvis made it specifically.

You say it is a lie to claim you said it. I did not claim you said it, nor would I ever intentionally lie. That is a strong reaction against my integrity which I will object to.

I do understand how online writers do feel the need to guard their positions carefully, even if they are not being literally quoted as saying something, and I am happy to change the text so that your name is not even mentioned in the same sentence as those words, and will only be referenced as a leading advocate for the (necessary) restructuring in the field.

Again, please accept my apologies for any distress this unintended association may have caused you.

jeff mignon

It can't be done by 35 journalists. But it can be done by a mix of pro and semi-pro. We have real life examples. Do you know that 70 to 80% of the content of a local and regional newspaper in France is written by semi-pro? And that for 40 years. Details here:https://mediacafe.blogspot.com/2009/01/local-newsroom-1-70-to-80-of-french.html

jayrosen

By all means take me out of it. I don't want my name anywhere near the proposition you linked me to because I don't think you based it on anything I have said. Jeff Jarvis can speak for himself, but I don't think you're basing your suggestion on anything he said, either.

To get an idea of what I really think, read this post:

https://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2005/03/29/nwsp_dwn.html

from four years ago attempting to warn people in the newspaper industry that there signs of profit-taking before letting the patient die. There you will find me observing that the things we would expect to see from an industry that is attempting to survive we are not seeing:

"No R & D rush. No large investment in the future. No siren call to find the new model. And yet the Project for Excellence in Journalism report says that in 2004, daily newspapers (the ones still making money) employed fewer reporters and editors. They also squeezed in more ads per page, and less news. Not only are we not seeing the big investment in an online alternative, there are signs of a withdrawal before the great divide.

"'There is more evidence than ever that the mainstream media are investing only cautiously in building new audiences,' the report states. 'That is true even online, where audiences are growing. Our data suggest that news organizations have imposed more cutbacks in their Internet operations than in their old media.'

"Getting it yet? Growing audiences, lower budgets. Pulling back when you should be stepping forward. The harvesting of the newspaper’s monopoly position has apparently begun. The assisted suicide is underway..."

That was in 2005. If you want to call that "advocating for a re-structuring," you may, but this isn't right, either. The re-structuring of the newspaper industry is something that is happening with or without our voices. I'm trying to point out what is happening--as I did in 2005--and point the way to what needs to be re-thought.

But I don't consider that a simple question. If someone asks me, what's the new business model for news? as people occasionally do, I am pretty consistent in telling them we don't know, this is a serious problem right now, no one has the answer. Certainly Sam Zell and Seth Godin don't.

Cheers.

Lisa Williams

Chris: I think you're right about the restructuring, but way off base in terms of where it came from. It certainly didn't come from Jay or Jeff; it came from Washington.

During the 90's, limits on how many papers, radio stations, and TV stations a single company could own were lifted. Capital flooded into the industry to create giant chains, which the investors then "flipped." (See https://bit.ly/dMXC).

People like Jay are just addressing the aftermath, and had nothing to do with the causes or the implementation of the restructuring, which are entirely driven by public policy and large investors. What each are doing, in the form of Daylife and OffTheBus, are engaging in small-scale experiments that might give us some insight into how to proceed. I don't think Jeff or Jay would claim that either of these experiments come anywhere close to providing a solution to the problem of replacing what's currently being destroyed in the vast simultaneous crackups of major US media institutions, and I've never heard them claim that.

What I have heard is a ton of other people claiming that they said it, though.

I also run a web/media experiment. Like Jay, people often attribute to me an optimism I don't have and never expressed about that aftermath simply because I come from the web side of the rapidly-dissolving border between the news industry and the high-tech industry.

I think the thought process goes like this: "She seems to be doing okay, so she must think it's going to work, right?"

Wrong. I have no idea if it's going to work, if by work we mean provide some civic utility and make enough money to give someone a regular paycheck and a dental plan.

One of the things I tell anyone who asks is that anybody who makes the jump from journalism to an entrepreneurial career is that they'll have to give up the pleasures of mastery and certainty. Being an entrepreneur means feeling stupid on a regular basis, with no one to blame but yourself.

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