Jay Rosen Profile picture
I teach journalism at NYU, critique the press, direct @membershippzzle. Pressthink is the name of my subject and my site. Started blogging in 2003. Still at it.
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22 Feb
"When in doubt, draw a distinction."

Not sure where he got it, but in grad school one of my teachers told me that. Some of the best advice I ever received.

This THREAD is about some of the key distinctions I draw on to do my work. If you're into that kind of thing.😎

Ready? 1/
For distinctions to do work, the terms have to be sufficiently close that prying them apart clears space for thought.

If I write, "bending is not the same as breaking," well, who said it was? That one is going nowhere. But "naked is not the same as nude" is an idea with legs. 2/
These notes about some of the distinctions I draw in order to do my work were written under the influence of two masters of the form: the French critic Roland Barthes, and the political philosopher Hannah Arendt, known for her striking distinctions— such as labor vs. work. 3/
Read 27 tweets
17 Feb
The Baltimore Sun said it will soon be acquired by a non-profit formed by businessman and philanthropist Stewart Bainum Jr. that would operate the Sun for the benefit of the community. It's part of a hedge fund's deal to buy Tribune Publishing. baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz…
Could be good news, but a lot is still unknown. The Sun said the sale is not a completely done deal. It's unclear what the connection is to an earlier effort by Baltimore philanthropists, businesspeople and the union representing journalists to buy the Sun and make it non-profit.
On top of that, and as someone will no doubt say in a few minutes, there is nothing magic about turning non-profit. The phrase you will soon hear: non-profit is a tax status, not a business model. Meaning: you still need revenue greater than expenses. Big challenges ahead.
Read 8 tweets
26 Jan
I read the transcript of the full 90-minute interview. Count me surprised that Margaret Brennan did not ask Deborah Birx: what would have led you to say this about Trump?

“He’s been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data."

Leave aside that it contradicts everything we know about the man. "He’s been so attentive to the scientific literature" is a strange statement because Birx in the interview says several times she had almost no interaction with Trump. So how would she know he'd become Mr. Science?
Another impression from the CBS interview. Birx seems to me an example of a public servant caught in an intensely political position who convinced herself that to succeed she had to be as un-political as possible, as against mastering the politics, too. It could never work. But..
Read 6 tweets
24 Jan
Rand Paul just gave a master class in how the Big Lie — election denialism — exploits the "both sides" rule set in journalism. "Was the election stolen?" @GStephanopoulos asked. There was no second question. They fought all the way through. Rand kept saying: hear the other side!
A clip of Rand Paul using the platform of ABC News to continue the Big Lie, with plenty of pushback from George Stephanopoulos, which in turn led to — stop me if you've heard this —"liberal bias." ABC News: what are you doing here? What end is served?
After all, @ABC, there is an alternative to asking Big Lie denialists "was the election stolen?" followed by hand-to-hand combat around every "just raising questions" maneuver they have in stock for you today.

Just call the question closed and move on. As an organization.
Read 9 tweets
19 Jan
"An Anti-Racist Future." A VERY challenging open letter from public radio employees calling for reform. The tone: all patience is gone.

"We hope to tear down public radio in order to build it back up. We don’t critique our industry because we hate it, but because we love it..."
"White supremacist culture and anti-Blackness shape the policies, norms, and standards of public radio. They determine whose opinions are valued, whose voices are heard, whose stories are told and taken seriously, who is promoted, and whose resume never gets a second glance."
"It’s time for a new kind of journalism: anti-racist journalism." celesteheadlee.medium.com/an-anti-racist…
Read 6 tweets
11 Jan
January 6 was one of the worst attacks on civil order in American history.

Have any of these given a briefing and answered questions yet?

Capitol Police
DC Police
Secret Service
Homeland Security
National Guard
Secretary of Defense
Vice President
White House
I am informed by several people that the DC Mayor held a press briefing. rev.com/blog/transcrip…
The FBI gave a briefing Friday, Jan. 8, referred to here: buzzfeednews.com/article/craigs…
Read 7 tweets
9 Jan
After the siege these would be my newsroom priorities:

* What's going on behind the scenes to get him out.
* More sieges at state capitals and in DC before Jan. 20
* How could the Capitol have been left undefended?
* If this had been Black people gathering...


My post siege story priorities, cont.

* Who planned this? What drove these events?
* The investigation: Where are we on the arrests?
* U.S. military reacts to an unstable commander
* Tech platforms recoil at a world they helped create


My post siege story list, cont.

* When prophecy fails: where Q and Trump cults go now * Frankenstein hour for some in the GOP while others re-commit to the crazy
* Experts in authoritarian rule on the dangers in a crumbling regime's final days
* ...

What's on your list?

Read 5 tweets
31 Dec 20
As part of my own look back at 2020, I want to share these thoughts about an essay I wrote twelve years ago, in which I got some things right and one thing — a big thing — disastrously wrong. If authors getting big stuff wrong interests you, then this thread might too. 1/
In January of 2009, I published at my site: "Audience Atomization Overcome: Why the Internet Weakens the Authority of the Press." archive.pressthink.org/2009/01/12/ato… It was one of my most successful posts. But it had a flaw that I now consider fatal. This thread is the story of that flaw. 2/
Most of that 2009 post was my attempt to introduce a different way of thinking about the political influence of journalists, beyond critiques of bias and constructs like "working the refs." I found it in a simple diagram from media scholar @danielchallin. Here's a screenshot. 3/ Image
Read 25 tweets
24 Nov 20
Facebook engineers proposed a feature to notify users when they had shared false news items. "But that was vetoed by policy executives who feared it would disproportionately show notifications to people who shared false news from right-wing websites." nytimes.com/2020/11/24/tec…
An algorithm Facebook developed to demote so-called 'hate bait'... "was limited to being used only on groups, rather than pages, after the policy team determined that it would primarily affect right-wing publishers if it were applied more broadly." nytimes.com/2020/11/24/tec…
@kevinroose @MikeIsaac @sheeraf Thank you for this illuminating report. I had one question: whether idealists vs. pragmatists is really the right pair of terms here. Trying to limit misinformation and polarizing content seems quite "pragmatic" to me. Not doing so sounds illusory.
Read 4 tweets
28 Oct 20
One of the most loathsome genres in this election cycle: the "people on both sides think the other is going to steal the election" — also known as a "dueling realities" — story. From the home of this kind of journalism, @nprpolitics. npr.org/2020/10/28/928… Key word: BOTH SIDES.
When I call "dueling realities" a genre, I'm not kidding. Here's another one from the spiritual home of this kind of journalism, @NPR, where a balanced treatment of an unbalanced reality doesn't count as disortion.

Via @airbagmoments npr.org/2020/10/27/928…
The Washington Post with another one. Notice the symmetry between "the worry on the right that a Democratic win would plunge the nation into catastrophic socialism and the fear on the left that a Trump victory would produce a turn toward totalitarianism." washingtonpost.com/politics/end-o…
Read 12 tweets
17 Oct 20
Here's a fun thread for journalism junkies, newspaper lovers and history buffs.

I had the help of one of my Twitter followers, @BalanceTheCheck, who collected the names of hundreds of newspapers (The Herald, The Star, The Enquirer, etc.) which he put into a spreadsheet... 1/
...Then we tried to categorize them by putting together titles that felt similar, like The Guardian and The Defender, which rely on a common image of protection.

Final step: write a short description of the categories, and add the newspaper names that exemplify it. 2/
From several hundred newspaper names — with many duplicates, of course — we wound up with 18 separate types. I'm going to bring them to you, with examples. But first I have to concede: categorization is an iffy art. There is no "right" way to do it, and decisions are arguable! 3/
Read 26 tweets
14 Oct 20
I am part of a group of 65+ political scientists and media scholars who today gave birth today to a new organization that responds to the civic emergency we are living through: The Election Coverage and Democracy Network.

These are our recommendations. 1/ mediafordemocracy.org
This group came together very quickly. We held one Zoom call, found we were on the same page, and set to work. The goal was to take what we learned as scholars and researchers and give non-partisan guidance on best practice to the people who are reporting on this election.

I am proud of what we produced. The first recommendation is: "Deny a platform to anyone making unfounded claims."

Or this one: "When voters and election administrators are the protagonists of election coverage, the public wins." More here: mediafordemocracy.org 3/
Read 8 tweets
6 Oct 20
Some of you know I have been pushing an alternative approach to election coverage, the "citizens agenda" model. It is slowly starting to emerge at the local level (the national press is not interested.) Here is @WBEZ in Chicago putting it into practice. wbez.org/stories/wbez-c…
The editor of the @bangordailynews is @DSMacLeod. He writes in to say his newspaper is also taking a "citizens agenda" approach. "Here's our coverage so far..." bangordailynews.com/topic/citizens…
The "citizens agenda" style is different in two ways. 1.) the voters —struggling to get their concerns addressed — are the protagonists; 2.) coverage starts by asking them, "what do you want the candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes?" pressthink.org/2019/06/key-st…
Read 4 tweets
22 Sep 20
I may be proven wrong, but I think the debates will be a fact-checking fail. Nothing like a real time check on Trump's firehose of falsehood will unfold. At best we'll see symbolic pushback on one or two lies, and his reaction will introduce more lies. 1/
Some reasons I think that: the sheer volume of lies Trump is able to broadcast in a single answer to question about, say, mail-in voting; the blowback from his defenders that each moderator knows is coming if they try it; the asymmetry factor, meaning— cjr.org/political_pres… 2/
— it will feel like bias if Trump is corrected a lot and Biden is not for lack of cause; the manifest need to move on; the weak precedent set by White House correspondents on live fact-checking (true, the debates are a different setting, but even so...) cnn.com/2020/08/20/pol… 3/
Read 11 tweets
16 Sep 20
Most of you know me as a press critic. But I have other lives as a professor at NYU. I teach grad students about innovation in journalism. I study the digital transformation of the press. And I run projects that agitate for change.

This thread is about those latter lives. 1/
I have a new post up at my blog, PressThink. "Notes on membership." pressthink.org/2020/09/notes-… It explains what I have learned about membership and the search for a sustainable path in journalism after three years as director of the research project I founded, @membershippzzle. 2/
Today's a big day in the life of @membershippzzle. We launched The Membership Guide, based on three years of study. Here's an introduction to what the Guide is and does. membershippuzzle.org/articles-overv… It's not a research report, but a practical tool for doing membership at your site. 3/
Read 7 tweets
23 Aug 20
Here's an example of local TV (@WNEP, an ABC affiliate in Scranton, PA) getting duped into covering a QAnon event as a "just folks" demonstration against human trafficking. These events happened all over the country today.

Another local TV station (@WOODTV in Grand Rapids, MI, an NBC affiliate) duped into covering a QAnon event as "people gather to protest human trafficking." woodtv.com/news/grand-rap…

Maybe check if your local station did the same. Marches like these all over the country today.
Some context from NBC reporters who have been tracking it: QAnon looms behind nationwide rallies and Save the Children hashtags. nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news… "Local media coverage of the events has been widespread and credulous, almost never mentioning the events' QAnon connections."
Read 13 tweets
17 Aug 20
Just published: my NEW post.

"From emergency to active threat: We have again switched settings in our coverage of Donald Trump." pressthink.org/2020/08/from-e… Written in the style of an editor's note explaining a shift in coverage. I hope you will read it— and tell me what you think.
By moving on the Post Office, Trump escalated the crisis in journalism.

"It’s more than a civic emergency; it’s a national crisis. News coverage has to reflect that. We can’t just cover these events in bigger type. We have to take commensurate action." pressthink.org/2020/08/from-e…
Take everything you were going to spend on the conventions and put it toward a threat modeling team. Then reorganize your campaign coverage around their findings.

One of the recommendations in my new post, which is styled as an editor's note to readers. pressthink.org/2020/08/from-e…
Read 4 tweets
13 Aug 20
This tweet by @Yamiche demonstrates the "truth sandwich" method of reporting false or dubious claims. First state what is true. Then introduce the truthless or misleading statement. Then repeat what is true, so that the falseood is neither the first impression nor the takeaway.
If you're new to the "truth sandwich" concept, or wondering how it applies in this case, here's my thread from a few months ago that may help.
Speaking clearly and bluntly, NBC's White House correspondent @GeoffRBennett shows NBC's social media team that it needs to learn the "truth sandwich" method for reporting a false or misleading claim. via @BGrueskin
Read 4 tweets
25 Jul 20
As a propaganda machine, Sinclair is far more dangerous than OANN. Although it's emerging a little more as itself lately, it is still for the most part a stealth network that operates through local "community" stations that present to the viewer as ABC CBS NBC & Fox affiliates.
What stands out for me about Sinclair is how stealth and deception are built into the company's structure and operating style. Not just it's programming. It exploits the credibility of other news brands, ABC, CBS, NBC, whose logos are prominent in Sinclair's iconography. Like so:
If Sinclair had any pride, its local stations would BOAST about being part of Sinclair. They would name and own their ideology, which does frequently distinguish them from rivals: "Your conservative alternative in local news." But this is not Sinclair's way. Stealth is. Like so:
Read 4 tweets
23 Jul 20
I have been asking myself what might prevent another New Tone Tuesday, where POTUS reads some scripted lines in his hostage voice and the press reports a change. presswatchers.org/2020/07/save-l… Ridicule after the fact has had little effect. Something more pre-emptive is called for... 1/
A newsroom that wanted to keep this pattern from repeating itself would need STANDARDS for what constitutes a significant shift, not in his tone striking but in his problem-solving. Talk to public health experts, read the studies, consult the proposals that are out there and— 2/
— come up with your newsroom's most considered view on what "changing course," and "showing presidential leadership" actually mean in this situation. Which steps are required? It is imminently knowable. So do the work and compose a standard. That's step one. 3/
Read 8 tweets
21 Jul 20
I have these questions for CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, NPR, PBS, and members of the @whca ahead of an event at the White House today that is being called a briefing. (Short thread.)

Here are some things to ask yourselves... 1/
You know you have a choice, yes? If you feel you have no choice on whether to broadcast a briefing, whether to show up and pitch questions, then you are stating that press freedom has somehow disappeared. This cannot be.

Here's a choice you can make: 2/
Second question: do you have enough information from past performances to predict how this coronavirus briefing is likely to go, and what the president's behavior will be?

If you do — and I certainly think you do — then you can game out an intelligent response. 3/
Read 8 tweets