Jay Rosen teaches Journalism at New York University, where has been on the faculty since 1986. He is the author of PressThink, a weblog about journalism and its ordeals, which he introduced in September 2003. In June 2005, PressThink won the Reporters Without Borders 2005 Freedom Blog award for outstanding defense of free expression. In July 2006 he announced the debut NewAssignment.Net, his experimental site for pro-am, open source reporting projects. The first one was called Assignment Zero, a collaboration with Wired.com. A second project is OfftheBus.Net with the Huffington Post.
Question: Would Wikipedia benefit from editors?
Jay Rosen: I have several thoughts on it. The first is every time a kind of an old schooler says to me that people need a filter, they need an editor. I think to myself, well, okay, I think that’s probably right, but what kind of filter are you proposing to be and how are you learning what the [filterees] want from their filter, because if you don’t have a program for that, if you don’t have an idea for that, then the mere fact that you claim to be an authoritative filter means basically nothing, and it’s like let see how you do it and for whom? And, you know, with what kind of ideas are you filtering the world for me. And I think a lot of people from a traditional journalism background tend to assume that they are going to be an authoritative filter because of who they are, you know, or what institution they work for. And I really don’t think that works that way on the web. Secondly, I would frame it a little differently. We know how close editorial systems work and we know why they are necessary. Certain kinds of reporting really can only come from professional suppliers of verified fact, but open systems work differently and they have different advantages. Open systems shouldn’t be expected to behave the way close editorial shops do because their virtues are different and I cannot sign up to be a part of the New York Times election coverage this year. I can’t contribute in the ways. It’s not an open system. But you can go to OffTheBus.Net and sign up to contribute. And so, I think what we have to have is a more mature attitude where we simply realize that it’s a big news universe. Close systems work one way. They deliver certain kinds of goods. Open system work in different way. They can deliver certain things too, right? And, there’s going to be a third category, right. Hybrid forms with some editorial oversight and a lot of open contributions. And how exactly we combine this? What is sort of the contract, right, between the players? How did the parts put together? All of that is yet to be shown, but I think we need all three. Close door editorial systems like the old kind. These hybrid forms and open system with almost no control with whatsoever. So let just have them all and see what they do. We don’t need to fight these religious battles, right, about citizen journalism replacing the, you know, the New York Times or Baghdad Bureau. Nobody cares about that. It is a stupid thing to argue about. Bloggers are not going to replace the news media. Let’s figure out how all these things work in their web, and I think that would hold us in much better stead.
Recorde on: 08/19/2008