Jay Rosen and the Watchdog Web

I have to say what nearly fifty thousand Twitter followers already know: nobody does a better job of following and writing about what’s going on in journalism than . The dude just nails it, over and over and over again.

His latest, From Judith Miller to Julian Assange: Our press somehow got itself on the wrong side of secrecy after September 11th, puts the whole Wikileaks matter in the the closest thing we have to an objective view. That is, anchored here: outside the mainstream media. In this Vimeo, he says The watchdog press has died. We have this instead.

It’s true. We now have the Watchdog Web.* It’s not well-behaved, but it has good reason to snarl and shit in the house. Howard Stern nailed it earlier this week when he weighed in on the side of : we have too much secrecy, not enough transparency, and too many collateral effects of secrecy that cause more harm than good — and the mainstream press has abandoned its post. (And before some of you dismiss the source, be careful not to confuse Howard’s X-rated humor with his serious commentary. As long-time listeners know, he’s one helluva sharp observer of politics and much more. And it rocks that his show was just renewed on SiriusXM for another five years. By the way, in announcing his return, Howard said he’d take ‘ recommendations seriously. Jeff is a frequent guest on the show.)

Here are Jay’s latest tweets, all more than worth reading (amazed here that I can copy and paste this in WordPress, but with a little HTML hacking, it sort of works):

Jay Rosen

jayrosen_nyu Jay Rosen
CNN: keeping us safe http://jr.ly/6cdt
Jay Rosen
jayrosen_nyu Jay Rosen
Important. Law professor and ex-Bush Justice Department official Jack Goldsmith: Thoughts on Wikileaks. http://jr.ly/6cdf via @ggreenwald
Jay Rosen
jayrosen_nyu Jay Rosen
5. Everything a journalist learns that he cannot tell the public alienates him from that public. Wikileaks tries to minimize this.#pdfleaks
Jay Rosen
jayrosen_nyu Jay Rosen
4. The state has a monopoly on the legal use of force. But it can have no monopoly on the legitimate use of digital “force.” #pdfleaks
Jay Rosen
jayrosen_nyu Jay Rosen
3. The watchdog press died. More viable today is a distributed “eye on power” that includes the old press as one component part.#pdfleaks
Jay Rosen
jayrosen_nyu Jay Rosen
2. The sources are voting with their leaks. That they go to Wikileaks rather than the newspapers says something about the papers.#pdfleaks
Jay Rosen
jayrosen_nyu Jay Rosen
1. It takes “the world’s first stateless news organization”http://jr.ly/5jnk to show our news organizations how statist they are#pdfleaks
Jay Rosen
jayrosen_nyu Jay Rosen
I’m going to post to Twitter the five major points I made in my presentation to the #pdfleaks symposium in New York today. Here they are…

Here’s the highest respect I can give to Jay’s authority on this stuff: he’s changed my mind. Many times. The first for sure was when he took one line of mine, from this blog post back in 2003 — “Blogging is about making and changing minds” — and ran with it, as did his readers. Which he’s been doing ever since, better and better, with every post, every tweet, every Rebooting the News (with Dave Winer, another veteran at changing my mind).

As Scoop Nisker so perfectly puts it, “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.”

*By the way, wasn’t taken when I checked, so I just bought it. If you want it, Jay, it’s yours. If you don’t, I’ll give it to whoever you think can do the most with it.

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12 Responses to Jay Rosen and the Watchdog Web

  1. Michael Tuck says:

    Absolutely. The History Commons considers itself part of the selfsame “watchdog web,” and have since 2004. If you’re a citizen researcher, writer, or journalist, or want to be one, come pay us a visit: http://www.historycommons.org .

    Nice post, Doc. Between all of us, the more awareness we can raise, the more informed and engaged a global citizenry we have, and that’s nothing but a good thing.

  2. One of the great benefits (or, as some would put it “collateral damage”) of the Wikileaks brouhaha is that voices like Jay Rosen’s and Glenn Greenwald’s now ring loud and clear. I’d been dabbling in Rosen; now I stream him. There’s a crack in everything: that’s how the light get’s in (L. Cohen).

  3. Doc Searls says:

    Thad, thanks for bringing up Glenn Greenwald. Another good one.

  4. My concern is not how to get information out to the public. It is happening and will continue to happen. Rather, it is how to get segments of the public to learn anything if they have already made up their minds. We are overwhelmed with information, but seem more polarized than ever. So posting info online doesn’t seem to be making us more educated, conscientious citizens. People are not voting more. They aren’t sitting down to work together to find solutions. So how will the watchdog web improve our lives? I’m not complaining about it. I’m just asking how it will actually make a difference when a lot of people will discount or at least not act on the information.

  5. Doc Searls says:

    I blame talk radio and the decline of the evening news for polarization. Through most of the Industrial Age we have had mainstream media as first-resort sources for essential news and sensible commentary. As those have declined, or been overrun by alternatives, we are left with an AM band that is wall-to-wall right-wing blather, and an infinitude of other sources on the 500-channel tube and the Web, including plenty that will feed and comfort our prejudices, whatever they are.

    I don’t think we can ‘do’ anything about that. There is cold comfort, I hope, in knowing it’s still early. The Web we know is only old enough to be a sophomore in high school.

    The Watchdog Web is a fact of life already, and not entirely Net-based. Newspapers and other traditional media are still on the case too. They just no longer bear full responsibility; nor are they always the first option when looking for helpful information.

    As for “getting information out to the public,” I don’t think there is a single way to do that any more.

  6. My concern is that people will think that making the information available will by itself produce great changes. I think we can back up our efforts by citing the information, but it’s going to take more political savvy than just posting it to move people in one direction or another. We can provide all the facts and evidence we want to people, but if it doesn’t change their thinking, followed by appropriate action, we will still live in the same world as always. Just saying.

  7. This article talks about what I am concerned about. Accurate information alone won’t address this. Perhaps it will educate the more receptive audiences, but if these educated people don’t vote and get involved in the political process, we’re going to be stuck with what we’ve got.


  8. Michael Tuck says:

    I’ll be interested to see if Jay or anyone follows up with the WatchdogWeb site.

  9. @ Suzanne Lainson. Your points are well taken and accurate. People -are- polarized in their viewpoints. Fewer people vote each year. Information overload has become an avalanche.

    But assuming that information did reach the masses and that varied and deep exposure to complex issues truly moved them, what would we masses then do? Re-elect a majority of Democrats to the House in two years? We now see how effective electing them two years ago was. Even if Obama’s intentions were pure we forgot that the American realpolitik would grind his agenda to a halt.

    America has reached an awkward moment where the economic and political system has become horrifically dysfunctional (rather than its traditional “significantly dysfunctional”), but not yet sufficiently pain-inducing to move people to take effective action.

    I see the Wikileaks development as a great leap forward in that millions of people around the world, people who care a great deal, are learning profound lessons about government as it actually operates. Armed with that knowledge, at an opportune moment, they will move our democracy toward positive change.

    It’s the oft-noted darkness before the light. Keep the faith!

  10. What would we do? Perhaps sit down and actually discuss real issues. Putting out the information is one part of the process. But along with that, everyone has to commit to talking to others, even if when they don’t agree. And that means that even online we must treat each other with civility. So let’s not stop with the goal of information transparency. Let’s do community building as well.

  11. Krugman makes my point, too. Publishing facts aren’t enough.

    “Ever since I began writing for the Times — and probably before, but I wasn’t paying so much attention then — I’ve been struck over and over again by the unkillability of zombie lies.”


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