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The Conference Begins

Note: this page will be repeatedly republished throughout the day. New content will follow sequentially. Changes and corrections will be emphasized in the text. Warning: I’m blogging this almost-real-time, and it will be rife with errors!

This will be an episodic post, somewhat of a core dump. It’s 3 degrees outside here in Cambridge, but easily 70 degrees in this nicely-appointed conference room at the Kennedy School of Government. The coffee and the wi-fi connection are strong, and there was much bonhomie among participants prior to the introductions.

Carrie Lowe of the ALA OITP was one of the welcomers. She emphasized the importance of keeping users in mind. Every time she said users, journalists blinked. You could see the wheels turning. Tangential thought: it’s wonderful that ALA OITP got a place at this table, and it’s wonderful that the MacArthur Foundation provided the support to make this happen.

I’m going to pause and try to get on the IRC chat (at ). Hmm. Well, I haven’t used IRC in ten years… I’ll let it go for now.

Rebecca MacKinnon: references responses from the blogosphere. One of the threads is that journalism is broken. Another is the issue of establishing credibility through reputation or in a group.

Jay Rosen: blogging and journalism are in a shared media space. Journalists must live in a shared media space. Journalists and bloggers share this space with the public. Traditional journalism was designed for a one to many world.

Intro to Dave Winer–introduced as the “Socrates of Blogging.” Now I’m trying to think what he is truly analogous to. I’ll listen and make notes. Imho he is more like one of the Wright Brothers.

Winer referencing the “blogger mentality” and using “we” a lot… we are the idealists… we’re Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (o.k., now I see that Winer thinks he’s Socrates, at any rate)…

Some of the ideas: journalists could provide full transcripts…

Bob ? provided a response… talking about mainstream journalism providing new ideas… does not see such a radical break…

More discussion… journalists now assume their “asses will be fact-checked”–my response: is everything equally fact-checked?

Observation: this group is all white and 80% male… how does that affect what journalism looks like?

Bloggers as evangelists… someone arguing that the Internet is God. My response: God is always right… and once a week She rests.

More: the mask has been pulled off the priest…

Ed Cone: good discussion about journalists having different mindsets and training than bloggers–good point of view

Another speaker asking great questions from the users’ point of view: designing ways to give people what they need to know

Dan Gillmor: journalism as the province of the rich and powerful, and the blogosphere as the province of the rest of us

John Hinderaker made a brave bid for objectivity, one that rang true with me (as it probably would with most librarians). He said that the primary problem with most big papers is that they lack a real commitment to diversity–that they lack conservatives. (I would say they are underrepresented by women and minorities as well, much like this gathering.)

DAve Weinberger: moving away from objectivity because explaining who you are is in conflict with the bid for objectivity

Alex Jones: objectivity is valuable for traditional journalism; a lesson from blogging is that journalists for mainstream journalism should be accountable for what they did and for why they made the choices they did; allow journalists to explain; who you are is not the point; “the “who” issue gets in the way because almost entirely it will be used to discredit people” The power of this journalistic objectivity framed this way will be important–this framework will be useful to all

Juidth from Media Lab? There is an achievable objectivity, but there is almost always a point of view

Flashback to the 1970s — seminar about 1970s —

Iranian blogger — blogs as cafes or windows; this I like

Ed Cone says “the audience has the keyboard”

DAvid Weinberger: objectivity is a method–and a form of rhetoric–major newspapers making choices about what readers find interesting

Xia from UCB School of JOurnalism–should we about the blogosphere? How information diffuses? These questions are getting closer to the “use of information” questions I see missing from this discussion–

Not just news but opinion: How does the user sort out all of that? How do we create a trust network?

Bill Buzenberg: American Public Media: they query their audience on all kinds of things; we are creating a different kind of journalism; we had a big story we wanted to do on a generation gap; queried many users including a core datbaase of 8000; we query them, and that becomes part of the story. It is “a revolution in sourcing.” There are many people who aren’t writing blogs, but they tap into that larger network.

Dan Gillmor says the “audience is going to have to do a lot more of the work”

What tools need to be built?

The most important thing when I read about the media is trust. Knowing that there are fact-checkers, an editorial board, an attempt to be objective, helps me to trust an organization. But at the same time I can see what the bloggers are saying. And that gives me a huge amount of information.

The topic of objectivity: the people who are writing need to preserve access to the people they are doing stories about… my point is not about left-right bias but that they know where their bread is buttered… says he was threatened legally by the New York Times…

Jane Singer, U of Iowa: agrees with Dan that the audience has to do more work–eek! Librarianship is about saving the time of the reader. Why should the reader do more work?

What is the common pattern and series of threads that lead people to a new environment?

Credibility as a result and not an end

Rebecca: talking about study showing users finding Fox more credible than CNN, and part of that was that users felt Fox was giving them what they wanted to hear. She asks, are you pursuing truth? An important question about bloggers: these bloggers have communities that want to hear other things; are you developing communities that want to hear other things

Susan Tift: at Duke. Talking about the audience. Spends a lot of time with 18 – 22 year olds. Her users don’t know much about blogs. They know about basic concepts. They think Jon Stewart is a journalist. The younger generation is growing up with a great deal of confusion about fairness and credibility… needs to be much more education… asked her students to follow a blog during the last election… this helped them hone their ideas about what is credible, what is fair, what is balanced. But they are in a special environment. What about the world out there where people are just tuning in to what they agree with.

Jay Rosen’s Takeaway idea: the objection to objectivity is not what we’ve heard here… of course we want them to go to the facts, etc…. that’s not objectivity, that’s intellectual integrity… now the case is that the quality of your information is based on the quality of your connection with the people you write for…

Jonathan Zettrain: summarizing pre-lunch: talking about lawyers… the job of lawyers is to nip at the status quo… he wonders if journalism isn’t supposed to be like that as well… Talking about there’s some sense that journalism is really ill now… that journalists think they are not setting agendas or seeking truth… He asked why are we here? And answered that we can always do this better. I think that’s a great observation.

— lunch break; very nice sandwich bar (let it so be noted) —

Geting ready to speak… sweaty palms… gulp…

O.k., it’s over! Where’s my brownie?

Jon’s points about transparency: relationships can be manipulated; like letter-writing campaigns

Great comments on the IRC channel–“the women are kicking butt” 😉

“The more the community can intrude on the newsroom, the better the news can become” — Tom Rosenthiel

Ethan talked about blogs changing things

Question arose about the revenue streams for big papers to spend a lot of money on journalism

Jill Abramson said the NYT spend $1m last year supporting reporting in Iraq

Rick Kaplan MSNBC: very low tolerance from the public for “honest mistakes”–the press now has to be brutally careful–one day you’ll have to live under that umbrella too. Bloggers can keep energizing the country. Both the press and bloggers are needed, and each group has groups it is better at reaching. MSNBC ran 19,000 tsunami videos.

Susan Tifft talking about reporters adding a personal perspective to their writing… quotes Abe Rosenthal saying that the kind of stories he wished he could get in the NYT are the stories journalists tell one another about events

Joe Trippi–talking about the need for synergy and collaboration

Christopher Lydon–story about picture of JFK–George Taines?–photographer–story about JFK grumbling about a reporter–uses this as backdrop to point about liberating the individual from the mass; we don’t need to defend teh mass media; talks about training them to use more than 15 minutes a day (My take: how does someone working 12 hours a day at Walmart and taking care of three kids even HAVE 15 minutes a day? Or do they not count?)

Post-break: Rick Kaplan of MSNBC repeating his point that blogs are reenergizing journalism

Bill Mitchell speaking up for the customer who only has fifteen minutes

Jeff Jarvis: separating the content from the container

Jarvis: Do bloggers need to learn things?

Many of us: yes!

Jay Rosen: answered very carefully… but his answer was yes… added that journalists could learn from bloggers… when one journalist learns, the organization doesn’t learn

Jarvis asked Winer, do bloggers need to learn things? Winer says: yes. One thing bloggers need to learn is to be willing to issue retractions. (Interesting that Winer doesn’t tie in the unwillingness of bloggers to retract posts to their lack of accountability)

Jon Bonne? Bringing journalism to neighborhoods

Exit poll discussion… what did journalists learn from this… Jarvis then led us to a talk about “beloved” Apple going after three bloggers for publishing advance info about new products. Should we defend them? Dan Gillmor: We better defend them. (I agree.)

Jack Shafer (Slate) and Rick Kaplan (MSNBC) began clacking antlers again, but Jeff Jarvis skilfully defuzed the sitch and got Ed Cone and others talking about micromarkets and revenue for bloggers.

“On the Internet, everyone will be famous for fifteen people”–need to look this up!

Jill Abramson asking: if you are blogging and you have a private interest, do your readers perceive a conflict?

Credibility and transparency: talking about crossing ethical lines… transparency will make a difference

Rick Weinberger: fanatically in favor of transparency BUT… transparency and engagement can be at odds

Rick Kaplan: blogs are a spectacular deal because he has a network and they are added value (not his words), but don’t quit your day job to start a blog

Jill Abramson says yes, they do look at bloggers as potential NY Times writers

Jarvis: Jay Rosen talks about putting all source material up on a blog… but there are countervailing market forces. Jarvis asks what if the market changed to make this possible? Rick Kaplan is champing at the bit to respond. (Most people in the room have very teeny, puffy eyes right now… it’s late.)

Jim Kennedy: Data management is not where it needs to be to support the kind of versioning talked about in this room. We’re headed for a world where the user takes content and reassembles it.

Xiao talked about the need for organizing information space

Christopher Lydon: the readers of the New York Times know everything. When is the NYT going to embrace the Gillmor doctrine? Let ’em in!

? If I were you, Rick, I’d gather some young, feisty people and I’d get them cooking with others on citizen journalism video

Judith: Talking about how the need to get things out first is a problem, and that needs to be solved

Brendan Greeley: oops… missed that one… podcasting I think

Ethan Z: getting stuff into the pipeline (?)

Ed Cone: advertising–a possibility for revenue

Weinberger: open platforms good, don’t deal with MS; interesting stuff is happening locally

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