Popular in Course
verified elite notetaker
Popular in Business
This 96 page Document was uploaded by an elite notetaker on Monday December 21, 2015. The Document belongs to a course at a university taught by a professor in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 28 views.
Reviews for Blogging--Journalism--and-Credibility-Battleground-and-Common-Ground
Report this Material
What is Karma?
Karma is the currency of StudySoup.
You can buy or earn more Karma at anytime and redeem it for class notes, study guides, flashcards, and more!
Date Created: 12/21/15
BLOGGING, JOURNALISM & CREDIBILITY: Battleground and Common Ground A conference January 21-22, 2005 at Harvard University Sponsored by: The Berkman Center for Internet & Society (Harvard Law School) The Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics & Public Policy (Harvard Kennedy School of Government) and Office of Information Technology Policy, American Library Association. Report written and compiled by: Rebecca MacKinnon 1 Contents: 1. Executive Summary .. 3 2. The Idea . 6 3. The Blogospheres Reaction and Pre-Conference Debates .. 7 4. The Conference ... 11 5. SESSION 1: Jay Rosen: Bloggers vs. Journalists is over .... 11 6. SESSION 2 (lunch): Judith Donath: Online social behavior and the implications for news .. 19 7. SESSION 3: Bill Mitchell on the ethics of journalism and blogging . 21 8. SESSION 4: Jeff Jarvis: The business model 25 9. SESSION 5 (dinner): David Weinberger speech ..28 10. SESSION 6 (Saturday morning): Brendan Greeley: podcasting, credibility and non-text media ..30 11. SESSION 7: Gillmor and Wales: Looking to the future . 32 12. SESSION 8: Wrap-up .38 13. SESSION 9: Open Session . 40 14. Aftermath .42 15. Final Feedback .46 16. Appendices a. Papers i. Rosen .49 ii. Mitchell & Steele ..63 b. Schedule 82 c. List of Attendees . 84 d. Useful links .. 96 2 Executive Summary "Blogging, Journalism, and Credibility: Battleground and Common Ground" was a conference held in late January at Harvard, at which a group of 50 journalists, bloggers, news executives, media scholars, and librarians sat down to try and make sense of the new emerging media environment. Since the conference, the resignation of CNN’s Eason Jordan and the Jeff Gannon White House incident have shown how powerful weblogs can be as a new form of citizens’ media. We are entering a new era in which professionals have lost control over information not just the reporting of it, but also the framing of what’s important for the public to know. To what extent have blogs chipped away at the credibility of mainstream media? Is credibility a zero-sum game in which credibilitygained by blogs is lost by mainstream media and vice versa? Conference participants believed the answer, ultimately, is no. Bloggers and professional journalists alike share a common goal: a better informed public and a stronger democracy. So now what? By the end of a day and a half of discussion, the following "take-aways" emerged: • The new emerging media ecosystem has room for citizens’ media like blogs as well as professional news organizations. There will be tensions, but they’ll complement and feed off each other, often working together. (See Session 1 and Jay Rosen’s essay in Appendix A1) • The acts of "blogging" and "journalism" are different, although they do intersect. While some blogging is journalism, much of it isnt and doesnt aim to be. Both serve different and valuable functions within the new evolving media ecosystem. (This theme recurred and was reinforced in all sessions.) • Ethics and credibility are key, but extremely hard to define. There are no clear answers about how credibility is won, lost, or retained for mainstream media or bloggers. It’s impossible and undesirable for anybody to set "ethical standards" for bloggers, but it’s also clear that certain principles will make a blogger or journalist more likely to achieve high credibility. Transparency is key but isn’t enough. Credibility also depends on a relationship of trust that is cultivated between the media organization or blog and the people it aims to serve. (See Session 3 and Bill Mitchell’s paper in Appendix A2) • Many media organizations now see blogging or the use of some formof participatory citizens media as a way to build loyalty, trust, and preserve credibility. They are still experimenting with ways to do that. Examples include: o Relationships between local newspapers and local blogger communities One example is the close relationship between the Greensboro News & Record and community blogging site, "Greensboro 101" (See Session 1) 3 o News organizations such as MSNBC are starting their own blogs within their own websites, some written by their own journalists and some by guest bloggers. (See sessions 3 and 4) o Some news organizations such as Minnesota Public Radio are working to build databases and communication systems in order to tap the expertise of audience members who do not blog, but who would like to help with stories. • New experiments in citizens’ journalism are emerging. They include: o Wikinews: an all-volunteer, distributed effort to build a new site. (See Session 7) o Dan Gillmor’s grassroots journalism project: an effort still under development to harness the best of citizens’ efforts with quality editing and reporting by experienced journalists. (See Session 7) o Jeff Jarvis’ hyper-local citizens’ media project: a news project that uses weblogs to target very specific local niche audiences.(See Session 4) • Opening up online archives of news stories for free public access may make business sense in addition to bolstering credibility and audience loyalty. Right now, most newspapers and news agencies only make their content free on the web for a couple of weeks, and then it goes behind a paid firewall, lost to bloggers for linking. The predominant view at the conference was that by making archived content free, not only will news companies provide a tremendous social benefit and thus gain credibility, but the traffic they will receive through links to their archived material and the ability to place advertising on that content will likely make up for the lost archive access fees. (See Sessions 4, 7, and 8) A number of questions remained unanswered, including: • Are blogs (or wikis) the best wayto distill and help people make sense of the grassroots conversation bubbling up or do we need to create new and better tools? • What will the new business model be? Nobody knows yet. It’s likely to emerge organically by media path breakers. • How can we make the conversation more inclusive of socioeconomic groups that are not currently involved in blogging, have little internet access, or whose lives do not involve much internet use? • How much of this conversation is relevant only to the US, and how much is relevant to the entire world? 4 Final conclusion: Strengthening the public discourse, and strengthening democracy, is indeed the common ground shared by professional journalists, bloggers, wikipedians and others involved in the creation of grassroots media. The conference established two important things: 1) that this common ground does indeed exist, and 2) that all are eager to work together. The goal is to create a better society and better means of giving citizens both the information they need and the forums of discourse required to hold their leaders truly accountable. Now we need to figure out how to achieve that goal. This conference has helped point us in the right direction, but the journey has only just begun. Please check the conference weblog at: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred for more materials and updates. 5 The Idea Blogging, Journalism and Credibility: Battleground and Common Ground was organized jointly by the Harvard Law Schools Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policyat the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and the American Library AssociationO s ffice of Information Technology Policy. Alex Jones wrote in the invitation letter to attendees: Our shared motivation for convening such a conference is our conviction that the world of journalism is being transformed by blogging, and that - similarly - the blogosphere is evolving and being transformed in the process. There can be no question that the phenomenon of blogging, especially blogs focused on politics and public affairs, has changed the way information becomes front page news. The examples of Trent Lott, the Swiftboat allegations and the disputed CBS documents come immediately to mind. In each of these cases, bloggers shaped the news, and the influence of blogging will only increase. To both journalism and blogging, credibility is essential. What are the areas of common ground shared by these very different approaches to handling news and information? Can journalists who also blog do their work without conflicting standards? Might bloggers adopt standards and a transparency that will elevate their credibility? Our purpose is to bring together a small group of smart and thoughtful people to ponder these and other related issues, which will result in a published report and - we hope - will mark the beginning of an on-going and very important dialogue. A group of 50 people were invited. Organizers strove for a mix of professional journalists and editors, bloggers whose work has had an impact on news events, journalists who also blog, academics who study the media, heads of organizations dedicated to watchdogging or improving American journalism, and several others whose perspectives we thought would be valuable. We also felt strongly that with many bloggers participating, the conference proceedings should be made fully public via live audio webcast, with a live online chat for people listening remotely to discuss what was being said. The schedule and participants would also be publicized on an open weblog. The conference planning weblog, at: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred was set up in November. The weblog served several functions: It was the main website where participants could2go to check for schedule updates, the participant list, and other announcements. (See Appendices B&C) The blog was meant to serve as a resource for participants, with links to articles, blog-posts and other resources useful to our discussion. Participants were also invited to post directly onto the conference blog if they wished in order to share their ideas and seek feedback as they prepared for the conference. Finally, the weblog was a way to take advantage of the wisdom and ideas of many other people 1Websites with more information about these three institutions: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/home/, http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/presspol/ndhttp://www.ala.org/ala/washoff/oitp/oitpofficeinformation.htm 2The schedule at:http://cyber.law.harvard.edu:8080/webcred/index.php?p=3, participant list at: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu:8080/webcred/index.php?p=4 6 out in the blogosphere who we were unable to invite, but who might be interested in contributing their two cents. As the date approached, Bill Mitchell of the Poynter Institute used the blog as a way to solicit ideas and feedback for the commissioned paper he and colleague Bob Steele would be writing and presenting at the confere3ce: Earn Your Own Trust, Roll Your Own Ethics: Transparency and Beyond. (See Appendix 1b for the full paper.) Different drafts of the paper were also posted on the blog before the conference began. Jay 4 Rosens paper written in blog form and published on his own blog5 Pressthink.org was also announced and discussed on the conference blog. Several of the other participants who are also bloggers, including Dan Gillmor and Jeff Jarvis, used their own 6 blogs to generate discussion and feedback as they prepared for the conference. Their blog posts were also linked-to and discussed on the conference blog. The Blogospheres Reaction and Pre-Conference Debates The conference blog received its first spike in attention from the blogosphere after blogger and participant Dave Winer first linked to the list of participants(which was itself a blog post), on January 8 with the comment for a conference about blogging, not too many bloggers. In less than five days, a discussion thread of 78 comments grew in the comments section at the bottom of the participants list. Nearly all comments were highly critical of the choice of participants: not enough bloggers, not the right kind, too many right-leaning bloggers, etc. Beginning on the same day, discussion threads emerged at the bottom of the about the conference post and elsewhere, questioning the conferences motivations and rationale. Primary concerns were that members of the mainstream media who in the view of many bloggers posting comments have lost all credibility had no business determining standards for bloggers or judging credibility of blogs. There was great concern that the group would pronounce a set of standards which bloggers ought to follow, and also great concern that the conference was questioning the credibility of blogs which journalists, of all people, had no right to do. The blog-storm surrounding the conference blog grew after I wrote a post linking to a blog post by Zephyr Teachout , former internet strategist for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. Writing in preparation for issues she expected to bring up at the 3 The blog post soliciting comments, with over 30 responses, can be found at: 4ttp://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred/index.php?p=10. See http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred/index.php?p=26 , http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred/index.php?p=47, and http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred/index.php?p=51 5http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred/index.php?p=24 6See Gillmors post on the End of Objectivity at: http://dangillmor.typepad.com/dan_gillmor_on_grassroots/2005/01/the_end_of_obje.html and Jarvis blog post on The New Economics of News here: http://www.buzzmachine.com/archives/2005_01_17.html#008898 and here: 7ttp://www.buzzmachine.com/archives/2005_01_17.html#008899 8http://archive.scripting.com/2005/01/08#When:9:14:51AM http://cyber.law.harvard.edu:8080/webcred/index.php?p=2 7 conference, s9e discussed the phenomenon of bloggers who get paid by political campaigns. Linkage to this blog post unleashed a torrent of reaction, primarily from liberal bloggers, who felt that Teachout had unfairly slandered bloggers Markos Zuniga Moulistas of the popular liberal blog, Daily Kos, and blogger Jerome Armstrong. A number of people challenged the accuracy of Teachouts facts in her blog post, and accused me and thus the conference of bias because I had linked to her blog post. The view of some was that if you link to something, you are endorsing it. My response on the blog was that Zephyr had raised issues of blogging and financial disclosure that she wanted to discuss in the conference, and given that these issues were germane to the conference, I had linked to her post. Linking to a post, I said, did not necessarily equal endorsement of everything written in that post. This unleashed a debate in which I and other conference participants were accused of having no credibility, being biased, and not understanding blogging. This debate, however, also raised an important issue that was discussed at some length during the conference: what is the bloggers responsibility when it comes to linking? Many bloggers link to things they find interesting but which they may or may not agree with, or may or may not know to be true, but find worthwhile discussing. Is this irresponsible? There is a range of views on this subject, as the pre- conference online debate and the conference discussion showed. 10 While there were a large number of comments posted to the conference blog that could only be called flames or personal attacks on the organizers, many comments raised important points about the relationship between blogging and journalism today. One commenter warned that to ignore the feedback is dangerous: I dont know if you people get it, but were the audience for journalism now. Other (normal) people are tuning you out. In other words, were giving you a hard time because we think what you do actually matters. Silence is the sound of indifference. 11 Some of the participants who do not blog or follow blogs closely expressed amazement and fascination with the blog-storm that had descended upon the conference. Here is one reaction expressed on the conference list-serv by Jane Singer of the University of Iowa: As for the explosion of, uh, commentary on the blog, does anyone else think that this kind of underscores the value of -- dare I say it -- "mainstream journalism"? Frankly, I’ve only had the time (and desire) to skim quickly through the vitriol, and I can’t imagine that too many people other than the deeply impassioned would have any motivation to do more. Don’t get me wrong, I think blogs are fabulous things, for all the reasons that everyone on this list knows...but this little adventure in conference planning clearly demonstrates the benefits of a little, gulp, gate-keeping and sense- making, no? (Yeah, yeah, Big-J journalism has plenty o’problems, but still...) 9 See http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred/index.php?p=17 and http://zonkette.blogspot.com/2005/01/financially-interested-blogging.html 10More debate on the conference blog took place here: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred/index.php?p=23and here: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred/index.php?p=25 11http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred/index.php?p=28#comment-627 8 Here is part of the response by Buzzmachines Jeff Jarvis: There are two rants going on simultaneously, one more interesting than the other. One rant is a purely political defense of Deaniacs by Deaniacs. Been there, seen that plenty of times, eh? But the other rant is interesting: People in this world, in turns out, assume a right to openness and inclusion and that is manifest in their complaints about an event that is by invitation only; they are allergic to velvet ropes and press passes and privilege; they are the citizens and they demand an equal playing field. If you’d quizzed me a few weeks ago, I probably would have said that but in this interaction I’ve seen this now as the bloggers’ view of their birthright and that’s fascinating; it’s also an object lesson for the business. The dynamic of the online, pre-conference discussion is worth noting. We used the participant list-serv to ensure that participants were receiving updates and necessary conference information that was also being posted on the blog. All participants were urged to follow the conference blog and participate in the increasingly heated discussions there. However, the only participants who ended up participating on the blog in any way were those who have blogs themselves. The non-blogger participants did not appear comfortable, or did not feel that they had the time to engage in a direct conversation with the blogosphere and instead limited their pre-conference discussions to the list-serv. Occasionally, I would try to post parts of the list-serv discussion onto the conference blog so that the non-blogger participants perspectives could be shared more widely. I was not successful in getting non-blogger participants to post their thoughts directly onto the conference blog either in the form of full blog posts or simply as comments. One result of this was that perceptions in cyberspace of the conferences purpose and nature were framed almost entirely by people who blog: the perspectives and views of non-bloggers were almost entirely absent from the mix. In the days leading up to the conference, journalists who heard about the conference learned of it primarily through the blogs, and thus approached the story of the conference at least initially through the perspectives that had been most dominant in the blogosphere. Upon interviewing organizers and participants, and observing the conference, those perspectives changed. But the lesson in early story framing is an important one: a lesson that CNNs Eason Jordan was soon to learn, when bloggers seized upon comments he had made in a World Economic Forum session and helped bring about his resignation before the mainstream media even got around to reporting the story. By having a conference blog that was being linked-to and talked about in the blogosphere, we also made it possible for people with interesting projects and ideas to find us and to make us aware of things we would not have known about otherwise. Through the blog we were contacted by Martin Kuhn, a doctoral fellow at the University of North Carolinas School of Journalism and Mass Communication, who unbeknownst to the organizers had written a Proposed Code of Blogging Ethics , which was then 9 shared with the g12up, and which proved very useful to Bill Mitchell as he prepared his paper on ethics. David Berlind of ZDNet also found us through the blog. His new transparency project aims to make all raw materials that went13nto his stories interview transcripts, notes, audio files available openly online. This idea was of great interest to participants and was discussed at some length throughout the conference. Jon Garfunkel, of Civilities.net also contacted us through the blog and attended parts of the conference as an observer. He has written about a proposed system for peer recommendation and ranking of blog posts, which was something we hoped to hear more about at the conference. We also heard in the comments section, the day before the conference began from a documentary maker named Kent Bye, whose project, EchoChamberProject.com , relies on the distributed work of volunteers online. The potential power of distributed volunteer work in participatory media was of great interest to many people at the conference. 12http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred/index.php?p=20 13http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/webcred/index.php?p=40 10 The Conference In the new evolving ecosystemthat combines citizens media with professional media, credibility can be won and lost more easily than ever. This stands for everyone, as Alex Jones, Director of the Shorenstein Center, pointed out in his welcoming remarks. Credibility is something thats relatively fragile, he said. Its something that mainstream journalism has lost an awful lot of in the last decades something that mainstream journalism, traditional journalism is trying to get back. Bloggers, on the other hand, are in the early stages of figuring out how to win and lose credibility with their audiences. Jones pointed out that at this early stage, bloggers credibility is something that is yet to be attacked or undermined in the same way that mainstream journalism has by, you know, a century of use. Carrie Lowe of the American Library Associations Office of Information Technology Policyreminded us to keep in mind the perspective of the non-journalist and non-blogger i.e., the general public, who is trying to make sense of the rapidly shifting information landscape. We would encourage you to keep the user in mind, she said. After all, the user is the most important part of this equation. Berkman Center Director John Palfrey reminded us that in the end, our conversation about blogging, journalism and credibility is really about strengthening democracy. I think a lot of what this topic is about for me is about small d democratic values and principles that are playing out on the web, he said. He is excited by a series of opportunities for more voices to be heard from more places in the world by more people, at less cost, and in very interesting connective ways. He hoped the conference would make headway towards a common ground in the name of a greater public interest. Session 1: Jay Rosen: Bloggers vs. Journalists is over (Dave Winer and Bob Giles commenting) In the conclusion of his essay written for the conference, Bloggers vs. Journalists is 14 Over, NYU professor and "Pressthink" blogger Jay Rosen enthused: It’s an exciting time in journalism. As the great social weave from which it arises changes form, the thing itself comes up for grabs. Rosens essay argues that a new ecosystem is developing in which blogging and journalism coexist, influence, and shape one another. Kicking off the first conference session, Rosen said that while Bloggers vs. journalists may be a dramatic peg for a news story, that is a fundamentally flawed description of what is really going on. Rosen sees three main trends: 14 http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2005/01/21/berk_essy.html 11 1. A power shift from the producers of media to the people formerly known as the audience. He also pointed out the need for a new vocabulary: terms like audience and consumer and viewer and reader, which have become threaded into journalism arent really that accurate for the people on the other end of the process. Why? Because the audience is now talking back on the web, in the weblogs, creating its own thread within the public discourse. 2. A loss of sovereignty, or in other words, a loss of exclusive control. Areas that once were under the domain of the journalist are now not exclusively under the domain of the journalist. Now that it is so easy for anybody to create content on the web for little or no cost, journalists no longer have exclusive title to the press. Professional news media must now share this space known as the press the mass-dissemination of discourse on matters of public interest, which for the past century has been almost its exclusive domain with activists, non-profits, and random individuals who have set up their own weblogs and websites. 3. Those first two factors have caused people (especially bloggers) to challenge mainstream journalisms key ideas and principles, particularly the principle of objectivity a principle which, Rosen says is faltering as an ethical touchstone in mainstream journalism today. Rosen makes a point we often forget: Most of the leading ideas that we teach young journalists, that journalists learn on the job werent necessarily created to explain the kind of world we live in. They were created to limit liability among journalists; to provide a way of defending against the inevitable attacks and criticisms that come to journalists. Defensive ideas, which have worked very well for the mainstream press for about 40 or 50 years, are now working against journalists. Its making it harder for them to find out where they are. The most influential bloggers (and thus one might argue those with the most perceived credibility) are those who help their communities (no longer an audience) make sense of the jumble of information out there on the web. To do this, they are expert in the art of linking: pointing people to other sources of information on the web by hyper-linking chunks of text ontheir own blogs to the URL web addresses of other web pages and blog posts. If we look at tapping distributed knowledge around the web, the people who know how to do that are bloggers. If we look at news as conversation, which is such an important metaphor today, the people putting that into practice are bloggers. Thus, while bloggers depend upon the work of professional journalists that is available on the web as raw materials for their conversations and web of links, they have created new kinds of information flows, along with the and structures and norms to deal with them. Bloggers are developing this platform that journalists will one day occupy and that is the reason people in the mainstream press should pay attention to them, Rosen concludes. 12 Dave Winer of Scripting News was invited to respond first. 15He agrees that the Bloggers vs. journalists construct is not the reality. We have never woken up one morning in our lives thinking about how we can get rid of the professional journalists, he says. If anything, we have worked hard to bring them in. Winer hopes that journalists will adopt more of the principles and techniques of blogging, especially transparency: transparency about personal politics and biases, as well as transparency through the sharing of all original source materials that went into a story. It now costs virtually nothing to put transcripts and audio files on the web, and doing so would lend credibility to the final stories. He also pointed out that as we move away from a universe where professionals had near exclusive control over the press, which made their claim to objectivity more believable, we are now in a world where the consumer of news or, shall we say, the people who interact with the news must triangulate between multiple points of view. People who read, write, and interact with weblogs have become much more adept than passive news consumers at triangulating information from different sources, making their own independent decisions about what to believe and what not to believe. We can combine all of our points of view and do what we call embodiment triangulation, and get closer to understanding what real events are going on, he said. This is the new emerging world in which journalists must learn how to function a world with which bloggers are already very comfortable. Bob Giles, curator of the Nieman Foundation, pointed out that news organizations are by their very nature resistant to change. The news industrys reluctance or inability to embrace new ideas is embedded in the sort of institutional culture of the newspapers and broadcast organizations for which we work, he said. The question is always raised How soon will we make money on this venture? Secondarily in the thinking is How can this serve our audiences? How does this help us connect with our communities? How can we better execute our obligation for public service and public trust by finding a way to use a new technology? He hopes that experiments like Greensboro 101 in North Carolina, in which a newspaper has embraced blogging in order to re-connect and become more relevant to its community, will help point the way for news organizations to change. A number of issues emerged from the discussion, as follows: New relationships forming between news media and the public: 16 Ed Cone on Greensboro 101: Ed Cone, a columnist for the Greensboro News & Record, said professional journalists may think theyunderstand blogs, but in his own experience, he really didnt understand blogging until he started doing it himself. (The News &Records editor-in-chief, John Robinson, was invited to the conference but was 17 unable to attend. See Bill Mitchells interview with Robinson . ) When Robinson started 15http://www.scripting.com/ 16http://radio.weblogs.com/0107946/ and http://www.greensboro101.com/ 17http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=77156 13 blogging in mid-2004, that was an aha moment for the newspaper, bringing the newspaper into a close conversation with the local community which already contained a number of active bloggers, including Cone. Cone described how the local blogs and the local newspapers complement rather than compete with each other. A recent county commissioner meeting was covered the usual way by the paper: They covered it well but they focused on a particular issue of interest to the newspaper which is economic development. A blogger at the meeting focused on other issues, and did not have space constraints requiring him to focus his coverage to one main theme. Because the newspapers reporters now have their own weblogs, they can continue the discussion with the bloggers about what happened at the meeting online. Here is Cones description of how the blog-newspaper relationship works on the local level: The paper has space constraints. They have to cover a limited amount of what happened at that meeting. What they can do now is the reporter Matt Williams can go to his own News and Record web log and he can link to Sam Heeds coverage [on Sams weblog] and say By the way, let me comment on what I couldnt get in the paper and I dont even have to start from scratch and re-write it. I can just point you to Sam and then take off from there. So at the same time we have independent bloggers who want nothing to do with the News and Record and they have created what I call an online alternative media of their own; theyre congregating at aggregator sites like greensboro101.com. They are having blog meet-ups. They see themselves as competitors, correctors, potential contributors. Cone believes there is no conflict between the writing he does for the newspaper and his blogging: I am a writer and a reporter and I feel tremendously empowered as a writer and a reporter and as a professional by this tool. there is no conflict in my mind between being a professional journalist and a blogger. Bill Buzenberg of Minnesota Public Radio described another way in which news media are developing more interactive relationships with their communities, aside from blogging. MPR has been developing public insight journalism: creating databases of audience members who are willing to contribute information for stories. Basically we’re using the audience, which knows far more about the subject than we do, he said. We now have a source as wide as the state. We tap in to the blogosphere, but there are lots of people out there who are not writing, and that’s what we’re trying to tap into. Towards the end of the session, Rosen pointed out that journalists are learning how to tap their audience as collaborators on stories. The conventional wisdom was that the audience lacked knowledge. In todays world: the quality of your information is deeply related to your connection to the people youre trying to inform. Or in other words: Youre a great informer of people if you have a strong connection to those people. 14 Issues of control and power: Radio host Chris Lydon said he believes we are in the midst of a new reformation.The New York Times used to be like the word from God as filtered to the people by the priesthood. Were now experiencing a sort of a protestant reformation in which peoples unmediated relationship to the truth in which our individual participation in the mysteries of nature and Divine Spirit have been democratized. Rather than the religion analogy, the analogy Dan Gillmor would use is that the New York Times is the trade journal of the rich and powerful, while the blogosphere is the trade journal of ordinary people. He believes we need to understand how to live our lives in a democratic society, where good information is crucial for us to understand our neighbors. We need new ways to understand our lives when the newspaper can’t. We now have a new way to gather information that no longer goes through the same funnels. People who are not in the Rolodex of news editors are now part of the source process. Until now, Berkman Fellow David Weinberger believes, the media has been making choices for us in terms of what we should find interesting. We no longer need professionals to help us make those choices. We can recommend things to each other on our weblogs. Blogger-journalist tensions: In the view of Buzzmachines Jeff Jarvis : Bloggers vs. journalists may not be the whole story, but the tension between the two is real, and is actually healthy. There is also benefit in keeping the tension alive and keeping the competition alive to make both better. Chris Lydon points out that the current situation is not bloggers vs. journalists, but rather the blogosphere versus the world that institutional journalism created. The main problem, he says, is that were not well informed. Trust, credibility, and objectivity: Trust and credibility now are social its recognized that theyre social processes, says Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life project. He sees news- consuming audience behavior evolving in the way that e-patients have evolved in medicine: many patients now arrive in the doctors office with a sheaf of online research about their ailments, because they no longer count on their doctor having the only possible, definitive answers or diagnoses. People, he said, are deciding what is true and what to act ononly after this process of discovery and social comment and new kind of credibility-enhancing mechanisms are put into play. Powerlines John Hinderaker believes it would be a shame to see those people who do primary news reporting abandon the ideal of objectivity, despite the fact that they might not live up to it. He believes that a real commitment to objectivity would also be reflected by a realcommitment to newsroomdiversity. 15 Youre like a juror when you report as a journalist, says Alex Jones. Journalists must be accountable for that, and now blogs will hold you accountable. Accountability is the greatest thing that blogs are bringing to journalism. But as a journalist, when youre reporting a story, who you are is not important. Whats important is: how you did what you did, and why? The who actually gets in the way because it gets used to discredit reporters. Ed Cone believes objectivity is a process, but also a metric. Newspapers use rhetoric to tell us what we should find interesting, and on the internet there is a surge of interest in taking back this power to decide what we find interesting. Perhaps we are contending along certain axes. One might be an economic tension, another is a tension over who is Best At Telling The Truth, and the third is a tension over reputation. John BonnØ of MSNBC asks: If journalists function as jurors, who will be there to help protect them? The news organization acts as protector for individuals who seek to tell objective truths that powerful and sometimes dangerous people dont want to hear. Will too much transparency lend fodder to those who want to tear up stories that show them in a bad light? I wonder who is supposed to be there, to protect us from being consistently assailed from people with more power and more money. David Sifry of Technorati says that when he considers how much to trust a news source, knowing that there are fact checkers, that there’s an editorial board, that there’s an attempt to be objective helps me trust an organization or a newspaper more. But on the other hand, he also sees the point made by many bloggers that greater transparency about a reporters background and biases can help make their reporting more credible. The New York Timesisn’t going away just because anyone can have a printing press, or their own blog. There is a great deal of accumulated public trust in everything the NYT does, even when they make mistakes. A reporter or bloggers objectivity is colored by what side your bread is buttered on, Robert Cox of the Media Bloggers Association believes. As you seek access to information as an individual reporter or blogger, you decide what to report based on a calculation of future consequences. He discovered as a blogger that sometimes he had the opportunity to blog about certain things, but I didn’t, because I wanted to continue to know about what was going on. In other words, as a blogger moves from being an outsider to being an insider, your stake changes and the way in which you report things changes. Andrew Nachison of the Mediacenter believes credibility is not dependent on objectivity, but rather on respect: focusing on why you do what you do, whether you’re a journalist or a blogger. He also doesnt think the point of journalism is credibility. Its about creating a better world. I (Berkman Fellow Rebecca MacKinnon) pointed out that there are also issues of short- term credibility and long-term credibility. If youre thinking about building credibility and approval from your audience in the short term, youll only give them what they want 16 to hear and reinforce their conventional wisdom. But if youre focused on building credibility over the long run, your calculations will be quite different when it comes to doing the right thing bringing forth information that your community (formerly audience) may not think they want to know in the short term because its upsetting and makes them feel bad about themselves, but which, over time, will be seen as a critical piece of information that society needed. How do you encourage the development of mechanisms that encourage bloggers as well as professional media to focus on long-term credibility as opposed to short-term credibility? What this means for our democracy: Jan Schaffer, head of the J-Lab, said she believes that the question of who is or isnt a journalist is not the main question and the answer is so what? She is concerned that were focusing on the platform but not on our audiences. She believes the real tension that we are not focusing on is what will news look like and what do people need to know in a democracy? Where will I find what I didnt know before? Who will connect the dots for me on big issues? Where will I have aha moments? Who will ask the missing questions for me? How do you give people what they need to know without swamping them with information that all but the most avid news junkies dont have time to process? In her view, both mainstream media as well as blogs are failing to solve this problem. I agreed. Right now blogging is very primitive compared to the potential of online, interactive participatory media. What kind of systems do we need to build if we want the result to be a more informed citizenry? We need better ways to track discussion threads from the blogs, Dan Gillmor said. He also believes we need to expect more of the former audience: To the extent that people want to be informed, theyre going to have to do alittle work. The challenge now is to develop a new toolset for people: how do you make this process less time consuming? For Jim Kennedy of the Associated Press, its about the peoples right to know. People are now coming at their news through the opinion space which is what most blogs are. How does the user sort through everything? Jane Singer, University of Iowa asks: How do we encourage members of the audience to search out ideas they do not agree with? Dave Winer asks: So we all care about news. How are we going to make it better? Jonathan Zittrain, Berkman Center co-foundero ,bserved that there seems to be a sense among much of the public that journalism is not setting the proper agenda for people, and not speaking truth. Whats really at stake, he says, is how we frame our view of the world. And the problem is, the abundance of perspectives doesnt make the truth more certain, as a person with two watches is less sure of what time it really is. The problem is, people are going to have to work much harder to figure out what they can believe. 17 To this end, Zittrain asks, can technology help people make better sense of reality? Is there some shared vision of meta-principles that helps us harness technology, so we can use it to arrive at better representation of reality? Collectively what do we have to say about how to harness the opportunities before us? Whats at stake? 18 Session 2: Judith Donath examines online social behavior and the implications for news Judith Donath, of the MIT Media Labhas written and researched extensively on the question of how people build online identity and credibility: what types of incentives do people have (or not) to be honest when interacting with each other on the internet?She8 approaches her subject through signaling theory: the study of why people expend time and money on adornments, possessions, and mannerisms that send signals to others about identity and character. This theory actually originates in the field of biology, as scientists examine how and why some animals evolve to display various elaborate signals or characteristics that help to impress, frighten, or deceive other animals and what the consequences of honest versus dishonest signaling tend to be. In the world of news and information as well as in the animal kingdom, Donath says, the perception is that if you can afford to give off a costly signal, you are perceived to be stronger than those who cant. In the human world as in the animal kingdom, there are repercussions for not being truthful. Humans lose their credibility; animals can be killed. Newspapers and TV stations can afford to give off costly signals. But what about bloggers? How do you build a reputation system in which there are repercussions for not being truthful? Furthermore, there are costs to the receiver of signals: you must spend time and effort evaluating whether somebody is being honest. Assuming most people are busy, a few people must come forward to perform this costly evaluating function for the rest of society. Newspapers do this by staking their own reputation on the reputation of the journalists they hire. Sorting out the credibility of individual bloggers is a much more messy process. One way of evaluating credibility is through the web of links that bloggers choose to build around some blogs but not others and the positive or negative characterizations that they give each other. But volume the percentage of praise versus criticism may not always be the best way to measure credibility either. There need to be ways for people to what is actually substantive criticism: When people attack you online, "it is hard to know when that attack is noise," and how much is legitimate criticism. The ensuing discussion focused heavily on the extent and manner to which a blogger or journalist needs to disclose about their backgrounds and private lives order to send an honest signal to build credibility. Technorati’s David Sifry raised the tricky question of when an anonymous blogger is credible and when she is not. The answer appears to depend on circumstances, such as whether a blogger would be endangering himself by revealing his identity. Iraqs first blogger, Salam Pax, being a case in point. Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales had a different perspective on disclosure as founder of Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia written collectively by a community of volunteer authors. In the Wikipedia model, nothing is disclosed about the collective authors of encyclopedia entries (or for that matter, news items in the experimentalnews project, Wikinews). Yet wikipedia is perceived to have credibility and authority at least on 18 http://www.media.mit.edu/ and http://smg.media.mit.edu/people/Judith/Identity/IdentityDeception.html 19 certain subjects by millions of people who use it each day. As Wales sees it, there are three ways of building credibility through signaling: Personal disclosure the bloggers model is one approach. Second, for established media organizations, credibility comes from organizational authority. Wikipedia shows a third way: the wiki way is another process, a collaborative review process, through which users can feel assured that the information theyre receiving has been vetted by the collective wisdom and fact-checking of many eyes and brains. Jane Singer pointed out that ultimately, the strongest form of credibility comes more from what you do as a journalist or a news organization rather than what you say about who you are and what you think. Jay Rosen took both points a step further: In the past, news organizations based their credibility solely on organizational authority, and the challenge was to make sure individual journalists they hired did not damage this. The paradigm has now changed, as we are moving into a world now where we have to see that the individual journalist is also involved in creating trust, which is something we have not thought about before, and so thats going to mean a new regime of control in the newsroom because those people now have more responsibility but they also are capable of adding to that asset not just spending it or ruining it but actually adding to it." One way they can add to the credibility asset is by blogging: holding a direct dialogue with the community about the stories they report. As a result, newsroom relationships are also changed. Jonathan Zittrain asked whether there is a third step in the process of building credibility: Not just what you say and what you do, but essentially how you live." He points out that the journalists in the room had not been speaking nearly as much as either the people who blog, or the academics. Does this have to do with a journalists need to keep their public personality footprint from getting too large which they and their news organizations fear would harm their credibility as objective reporters of news? Many journalists in the room agreed that the fact that they are journalists has a tremendous impact on the way they live their private lives. So where do we go from here? Donath points out that a simple list of a reporter or bloggers affiliations is much less credible than the long history of what they say. But she concludes there are no easy answers to the problem of signaling and credibility-building. 20 Session 3: Bill Mitchell on the ethics of journalism and blogging (Schneider, BonnØ, and Rosenstiel commenting) In another pre-conference paper, Earn Your Own Trust, Roll Your Own Ethics: Transparency and Beyond Bob Steele and Bill Mitchell of the Poynter Institute conclude: Transparency is a first step in building trust with an audience but is insufficient to achieve credibility.9 We do not prescribe ethics standards for bloggers. Instead, we recommend that bloggers involve their audience in a co-authored process that addresses the personal information the bloggers are willing to share, the principles they stand for, and the processes they follow. This applies to professional journalists who blog for news organizations as well as for stand-alone bloggers. In reaction to the conference discussion so far, Mitchell asked that we think about ethics not in the traditional way as a list of rules, but more as a way the work gets done; the way a publisher interacts with the audience/collaborator and vice-versa." If journalism is becoming a conversation and not a lecture, it becomes more of a relationship and less of a contract. What, then, does it take for the relationship to survive? If transparency is not enough to build trust, what might be? Finally, he throws out a hope: "I have a feeling that there is a tool we could create that could help build trusting relationships that we are talking about." Librarian Karen Schneider responded from the users perspective. Any ethical framework for information, she believes, needs to be informed by the way in which it moves through time & space. Information has a way of growing legs and walking away from you and becoming very, very different sorts of things," she says. In other words, the journalist or news organization may package and present information in one way, but as it reaches different users in different contexts it is repackaged and re-distributed. This needs to be kept in mind. We cant rely on transparency of process alone, she argues, because There is no transparency meta-data code at this point to link back to the person. While she is a big fan of Dan Gillmor and his book We the Media, Schneider is concerned about his earlier point that the user needs to do more work. From the librarians perspective, most users need advocates to help them make sense of the vast array of information sources. Most people out there still dont read blogs, and do not go to the internet for news and information. We cannot forget this. John BonnØ elaborated on Mitchells idea that news ethics will increasingly stem from a relationship rather than a contract. The relationship is inevitable, BonnØ says. One of the things that we are evolving towards in all of this is some sort of larger understanding that the relationship is good." So what can be done to help build this relationship? Frequently Asked Questions pages or FAQs - for news organizations would be a start. As would larger conversations about why the news organization does what it does through news ombudsmen. BonnØ 19 http://cyber.law.harvard.edu:8080/webcred/wp-content/mitchellsteelewebcredfinalpdf.pdf 21 cautions, however, that relationships between news organizations and the public can be manipulated, from all sides. Tom Rosenstiel, Director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, pointed out that the norms of journalism have evolved over the past 200 years. Theyre not as codified or as monolithic as they now seem. The culture did stultify" in journalism, he says and did get disconnected from its audience to some extent in large part because it became so focused on technique. The journalism became a totality. Journalism was what journalists did and thats not where it started and thats not where it will end up." The best thing about blogs, he believes, is that they are going to force journalists to respond to what people want. The more interaction, and the more that community can intrude onthe newsroom, the better journalism will become. But fundamentally, Rosenstiel points out, journalism provides society with facts. You can build everything off of that. To do that you need to have reporters who go and find things out, do the digging, run between places, and give people an end product thats the best version of what happened that day. This function is different than what blogs generally do. At the same time, this function is becoming more and more difficult to monetize, and to finance. The risk, he fears, is that newsrooms will shrink and the professionals will have no jobs. This would be bad for society and democracy. But the threat, he believes, is not coming from the blogs: "The blogs are going to help us. They are going to help us re- connect." The ensuing discussion focused less on the ethics of journalistic blogging than how professional journalismand blogging will coexist. A heated debate arose when Jill Abramson of the New York Times asked the bloggers in the room: do people realize how much it costs to maintain a news operation in Baghdad? Dave Winer called that a silly question. There are bloggers in Baghdad, he said, and thats your competition. Abramson argued that by maintaining a bureau in Baghdad which she said cost over a million dollars in the past year the NYT is providing a tremendous public service. Being there to report and bear witness to events is important, and I dont think thats what most bloggers in Iraq are doing." Dave Winer said he had heard the same conversation in 1981 from manufactures of parallel mainframe computers. The argument, Winer said, was that we will always need huge staffs in the glass palaces because the users cant be trusted with their own data Two years, three years later, they were gone. That was it. They were wrong." I am hardly talking about a glass palace" Abramson replied, I am talking about public service. 22 It was suddenly looking like a bloggers vs. journalists argument, despite earlier claims by many in the room that that argument was dead. Rick Kaplan of MSNBC jumped in. What we are saying to you is that part of what is necessary in the coverage of Iraq and it is extraordinarily expensive in terms of human costs and dollar costs is what a professional group of journalists can bring to the story the coverage that they can give it. That plus what you are what the whole new world of blogging can bring to a story thats better. Its not instead of you. It is in addition to you." Jeff Jarvis then brought up an example of an anti-terrorism demonstration in Iraq which was covered by an Iraqi blogger but not by the NYT. The Times, he argued, should make more efforts to work directly with local bloggers in order to get more information and more facts than theycan get with their own reporters alone. Dan Gillmor pointed out that a lot of journalists are getting much of what they know from locals who are really on the ground. He would like to see more experiments that would enable these people to write what theyre seeing and make their direct accounts visible to readers, rather than just feeding their information and perspectives to the visiting reporters. As news organizations do more of this, several people pointed out that this leads news organizations into uncharted waters, as they are likely to be held responsible and accountable for these direct, raw and personal stories which may not always turn out to be completely accurate and are very likely to be biased. What does this do to a news organizations accountability? Can you really disclaim the citizen journalism elements and keep them separate from what you have verified, checked, and tried to report objectively? David Weinberger had several suggestions for newspapers like the New York Times, which would make their reporting more credible in his view: linking bylines to pages about the reporters; allowing (but not requiring) reporters to blog on the NYT site; allowing links to pages off of the papers website; letting readers hold discussions around certain topics; showing what other bloggers are saying about specific stories; letting users organize the way articles are displayed and sorted in the way we want, in other words, Let us sort the metadata about your stuff off your site on other sites . to pull together the pieces that are interesting to us." And finally, Weinberger asks, on occasion, write your drafts in public." This, he believes, will increase transparency and public understanding of what goes into a good New York Times article. Ed Cone agreed. I want to see the New York Times use its resources to gather more information from more sources and vet them and then bring them to me." He cites an example of a story from Iraq that editors of the Greensboro News and Record found on a soldiers blog, which hadnt been reported anywhere by the mainstream media. The N&R fact-checked and verified it, then put it on the front page. Berkman Fellow Ethan Zuckerman quoted William Gibson: The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet. He pointed out that there are many parts of the world about 23 which we in the U.S. would have no information unless mainstream media invested resources to cover them. But he hopes that over time, this will be complemented by a vibrant, global citizen-journalism. We will have the American voice of the professional journalist writing for a U.S. newspaper, but we will also be able to compare it to many raw, unfiltered local voices. This is valuable, and it will enhance our understanding of other parts of the world, in addition to enhancing and keeping honest the professional reporting. The problem, Dan Gillmor pointed out, is that the revenue model that supports that million-dollar newsroom is unraveling. That, he says, is the elephant in the room. It is a problem to which nobody in the roomhas a solution. Jan Schaffer said she hopes that blogs are not the end game of participatory media, but are instead just the beginning. The present format of the blog, she believes, is a very inefficient way to get information. In her view, both bloggers and journalists need to be working towards a "better end-product. This, she believes, might be meaningful commentary and meaningful conversations, or perhaps it might be through better links. Ideally this would be through "a mindset rather than a skill set:" a mindset for harvesting information to utilize the expertise in your community. Journalists would seek participation that would check and balance their stories. The question should be not only: did you get the story right, but: did you get the right story? She believes that paradigm should apply both to mainstream journalism and to the blogging world. Rick Kaplan of MSNBC then took a few minutes to describe how blogging has become an integral part of what MSNBC does. MSNBC has staked its future on blogging and participatory media: it puts bloggers on air regularly, and the anchors of all new shows must have a blog. Wikipedias Jimmy Wales retuned to the issue of news bureau costs and the exchange of views between Jill Abramson and Dave Winer: Five years ago, if I sat here in front of this group or any other group and we discussed the Encyclopedia Britannica, which in the latest numbers I can find just now, in 1996, they had a budget of three hun
Are you sure you want to buy this material for
You're already Subscribed!
Looks like you've already subscribed to StudySoup, you won't need to purchase another subscription to get this material. To access this material simply click 'View Full Document'