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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

Rebooting The News: Dave Winer and Jay Rosen on saving journalism

If you’ve ever listened to or created a podcast, you were benefiting from the work of Dave Winer, the occasionally obstreperous, often brilliant developer and provocateur with the surfer-hippie voice who, together with ex-MTV VJ Adam Curry, hashed out in public the idea of automated audio delivery that became known as podcasting. Winer and Curry talked about the emerging format in a rambling series of recordings dubbed by Winer “Trade Secrets Radio” (the audio appears to be lost to the ages, unfortunately). The relaxed setting and lack of slavery to polish and formatting created something of a “My Dinner With Andre” for online audio geeks — an opportunity to listen in as something valuable was being created.

And, now, lightening appears to be striking twice, with the rollout of a weekly series of Skype conversations between Winer and NYU Journalism professor Jay Rosen. The name: Rebooting The News.

The name of the podcast carries all its assumptions: A hard restart is necessary, and technology has a role in reshaping journalism.

As befits the unfinished nature of this enterprise, the pieces require some assembly: There’s a Friendfeed room, but there’s no actual home (or separate feed, which, frankly, is frustrating) for the audio (the latest is here, the previous episode is here).

But to get you started, some excerpts. First up, from this week, Jay talks about the forced digital migration of journalists, but Dave is less than impressed with the hand-wringing about how hard the transition can be for reporters facing wrenching change:

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From last week’s episode, a discussion of business models, why the solution hasn’t already emerged, and why our expectations of what that solution will look like are probably wrong:

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What I really hope happens is this:  Now that Dave and Jay have laid the groundwork of what’s wrong with the current situation they’ll move to discussing ideas and solutions. For instance, this sidebar on how independent bloggers and journalists could amplify the current mayoral race in Boston (a race Winer, in a bit of lightly-sourced exaggeration, says The Globe is not covering at all, an assertion which Rosen correctly challenges as unbelievable):

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This is definitely worth 40 minutes a week on your commute.

(A bit of unplanned transparency: When I listened this morning to the latest episode, I was surprised to hear Dave and Jay discussing this very site and Dave talking about his weekend visit visit last week with Joshua Benton and Zachary Seward of Nieman Journalism Lab.)

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  • Dave Winer

    I did give my source for the idea that the Globe wasn’t covering the election. And what if it turns out to be correct?

    My meeting at Nieman was on Thursday, not over the weekend.

    Also some of the Trade Secrets podcasts survive. Someday I have to put them all together. Just did a search and listened to the beginning of the 9/25/04 podcast.

    I always wondered why journo types get into classifying people’s personalities. I wonder what negative thing you’d say about us (i.e. normal people) if we started characterizing your personality? It’s kind of offensive, I think of you guys as people, and polite people don’t do that to each other.

    You asked for an idea of what next steps we might take toward approaching the New Journalism, put this on the list. Reporters stop assuming god-like insight into what makes people tick and stick to verifiable facts.

    Otherwise — thanks for the writeup.

    And btw, the 40-twits thing is definitely on the road to the journalism of the future, imho.

    PS: Your typical reporter comeback would be to call me “overly sensitive.”

    PPS: Reporters have been saying personal stuff about me for a long long time. I never get used to it. It’s one of the reasons why, personally, I can’t wait for this style of reporting to end.

  • Dave Winer

    One more thing — I just noted the title of your piece, and it betrays a point of view that I don’t share and I don’t believe Jay does. I don’t want to save journalism, I want to reboot it. That’s why I got started blogging in 1994 and podcasting in 2004 and RSS somewhere in between.

    As I said above, I don’t think the current system is functional, it lets too many things through the cracks and encourages a kind of footsy between the reporters and the people they cover and it exempts too many influential people from coverage (e.g. the employers of the reporters).

    The people you serve want to save journalism, not me. I want a fresh start.

  • Tim Windsor


    You’re just being overly sensitive….


    Okay, I assumed on the meeting and FUBARed the date. Thanks for the fix.

    On The Globe, you did name somebody, but I’d have to go with Jay on this — there’s no way at all that a major metro paper would not cover a mayoral election in its city. If that turns out to be true, I’ll eat a section of The Globe, boiled first, with some curry.

    As for classifying you, I was just trying to set up for the readers that you’re not some faceless wonk with no personality. Sorry if I offended, but I’ve been reading you since the mid 90s and listening for as long as you’ve been pushing out audio, and that’s just my personal take.

    But, more substantively, to your last comment, I don’t get the distinction. Unless you want journalism as a concept and a deliverable to disappear, I don’t see how rebooting the news can lead to anything BUT saving journalism. This doesn’t necessarily mean saving papers, or newsrooms, or editorial structures and processes. But it does mean saving the very notion of what journalism is and what it’s for. To me, that’s the beauty of the Jay and Dave show.

  • Dave Winer

    Instead of speculating how can we find out what resources the Globe has devoted to covering the mayoral race. My source was Nicco Mele, he teaches at the Kennedy School, is a longtime friend, and has a strong reputation for getting this kind of stuff right. I’d like to know if the premise is correct. I don’t have anyone at the Globe I can call, but I’d be surprised if you didn’t have a connect through Nieman?

  • msbpodcast

    The paper part of the newspaper is dead … Get over it.

    The only thing that will remain is going to be vanity presses like HP is proposing with their printing service [ ]

    We didn”t fight for the rights of the buggy whip makers either … Suck it up.

    Journalism however is definitely NOT DEAD.

    It has been democratized, popularized, localized, opened up, opened on and opened for a new business model.

    If you worked as an editor or for an editor, you are going to find that the average person hasn”t suddenly improved in spelling or grammar, logic or comprehension, ability to communicate or in layout skills.

    We just have to find you a new way to get news that you write out there; .PDF files on your servers being distributed via RSS files that the Post Office has on their server and that gives access to the latest content for $ would go a long way towards granting you a new lease on life.

    The RSS file can even contain the highlights and a little bit of text from the articles which are still on your servers.

    Actually, you can extract the words from your articles, remove duplicates, sort them, and let Google be able to include or eliminate an article from a search, present the little highlight snatch of text to let potential readers determine if they are interested and then the post office can: 1) let subscribers access the article OR 2) charge for access to the article.

    This last part, subscription fulfillment or piece-meal charging, would be done by the post office. Nobody has ever had a problem paying for a stamp or expected a letter to be delivered without a stamp.

    Once the “news” becomes the “olds”, say after a week for most articles, let Gooogle have at the original that you can store in a separate server.

    a) The transmission of the articles is almost free.

    b) The distribution of the articles is almost free.

    c) The access is cheap but NOT free and the post office sees to that and that helps them with with their business model.

    d) The post office send you a share of the money collected (and YOU KNOW HOW OFTEN AN ARTICLE IS FETCHED OFF OF YOUR SERVERS FROM A PARTICULAR IP ADDRESS.)

    There is a business model that would work, it would
    1) let new gathering organizations gather news,
    2) let readers read,
    3) let the post office disseminate and collect payments and disburse funds

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  • Christine Gorman

    Thanks for this, Tim. Tried accessing the recording on business models and it was speeded up to hyper-chipmunk velocity. The others are fine. Could you please fix?

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