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Reading Jay Rosen

I’ve been reading and listening in and watching the work of Jay Rosen this summer, as he continues to collaborate with Dave Winer and others on the problem of reshaping journalism for the challenges of our time. I’d like to jot down some of my mental notes and see what they look like. I take Rosen to be arguing, among other things, this:

In professions such as journalism, writers’ perspectives are necessarily limited and error is fundamental. Authority that is merely asserted by journalists rather than earned is increasingly unpersuasive as well as alienating to readers, but our unfolding understanding of social media suggests a direction forward. Social media invite and facilitate corrections and the diversity of perspective that make corrections possible, and authority can now be earned through increasingly rich and open practices rather than merely asserted.

Those practices are being sketched by a variety of journalists, and some patterns are starting to emerge. The one deeply uncertain thing, though, is how to make it pay enough for the better parts of journalism to carry on in whatever old and new formats we need for the years ahead.

My own further questions are these: Can the university hope to escape the forces of change that have imposed themselves so disruptively on journalism? Or must the university too learn how to earn its authority in a new way? Beyond the great importance of journalism, that’s what interests me in thinking about Jay Rosen’s work right now.

  1. August 23, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Upon reflection, I wonder if I really can untangle Rosen’s work from Winer’s as cleanly as I appear to do in this posting. Probably not. My wording may very well be unfair to Rosen’s collaborator — my apology.

    Further: of course, social media don’t replace the sound core practices of a profession. The two realms mingle, don’t they?

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