Jay Rosen and Lex Alexander session was amazing (and a number of bloggers have already commented on it). Daniel's doodle of the two guys is right on the money:
Compare it to the photo:
The session was actually quite tense and contentious, struggling over the ageless question of who has, or deserves, more trust: professional journalists or bloggers...until someone really smart suggested to stop thinking "Who do I trust" and ask instead "Who do I believe". At that moment, everyone in the room relaxed. Words 'trust' and 'reliability' (because that is what 'believe' means in this context) have a similar relationship to each other as 'respect' and 'tolerance'. Reliability and tolerance are words with a single, simple, limited meaning that everyone agrees with. Trust and respect have a shifting meaning, starting out as synonyms for reliability and tolerance, respectively, than sliding into ever more broad meanings, something properly dubbed respect-creep and I would say also applicable for "trust-creep".
Lex described the way News and Record blogs got started and the operating principles they use in accepting and "editing" citizen's contributions (not comments - whole posts): just the punctuation and grammar. The Editor writes more on the issue.
Ted Vaden of Raleigh News and Observer commented on the session. Melanie Sill, providing a great personal example of what is wrong with institutional journalism, jumps on an out-of-context quote by Rosen, as reported by Vaden, with no further verification of the quote, accusing Rosen of doing exactly what Sill did: sitting behind the computer screen and making Ivory Tower pronouncements. Ahhhem (clearing thorat). Rosen was actually there (see picture above). I saw him. He is real - muscle and blood. He said "Hi". Sill was the one sitting behind the computer.... Actually, I still have no proof that Sill is not just a clever piece of computer software that N&O uses to fill its blogs....Get down from the Ivory Tower, Melanie, and show us that you are a human, too.
Anyway, Jay commented on Sill's post. David Boyd exchanged e-mails with Sill on the issue.
Paul and Ed chip in.
In the beginning of the session, Jay stated that the first journalist to figure out how to use blogs right will become famous. Later in the session, someone reminded everyone that most blogs have no journalistic pretensions. At the end, conversation turned to the fact that insititutional journalism is very reluctant to lose control (power) over the information available to the people. Thus, a media-company will closely guard itself against its own journalists who may make an attempt at any kind of transgression that could possibly reduce the company's control. Putting the two and two together, I asked if perhaps the front-page political journalists are the ones who are most closely monitored and that the "first famous" journalist will be someone on the beat who can slide under the radar, someone, perhaps, who writes about sports, a restaurant critic, a science reporter, or someone covering public health and medicine. Jay said that it is most likely to be a reporter covering the local schools, as nobody understands what is going on in schools as well as parents, students and teachers: most valuable resources to a guy on the education beat.
He may be right about it, but I tend to agree with Michael - the "first famous" journalist-blogger will be someone on the beat who does NOT have the J-school baggage and is not immersed in the newsroom culture. Someone who is always on the run, on the beat, and turns in stories by e-mail, never getting soiled by the newsroom culture. Perhaps I can do that as a science reporter for some local newspaper?
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