Media gawking

We Media conference, continued.

Jay Rosen (PressThink): We’ll talk about our sites. Earlier, Gore had something in his speech for everyone. The world I grew up in was mostly hierarchical. All our ideas, inluding all our aspiratins were based on a pattern of vertical atomized mass distribution. This was a pattern of mind. Along comes the Internet which unleashes horizontal energy. Here we have three sites, and I’ll introduce them and talk about our sites.

Patrick (I Want Media): My site was launched five years ago. I launched it because I thought it could promote some freelance writing I was doing. I was at Hearst, where I tracked down a lot of information about the media. I thought it’d be helpful if there was a site that aggregated all of this. The part that took off was headline aggregation. I try to cover a little bit of journalism, a little bit of technology etc.

Rosen: When did you realize you had some power?

Patrick: Maybe when Insight wanted to buy me. We were talking back and forth and while doing this, they folded.

Rosen: Jessica… you’re at Columbia, and you get to write for Gawker…

Jessica Cohen (Gawker): Gawker is a classic web log format. When I took the job I knew it launched the previous two editors to good jobs. Gawker is the silly aggregation of what you need to know. It’s equal high and low — from rumbles and big deal news to Nick & Jessica. Gawker: if you got a bunch of journalists drunk, what would they be talking about? If you were the journalist getting drunk, you wouldn’t put it out. But I can do it. We’re insiders, but outsiders.

Rosen: How do you do your site?

Patrick: I’m sure I don’t get as many e-mails and hits like Gawker. People that e-mail me want to be credited for their work.

Cohen: I’ve had NY Times reporters e-mail me to make fun of their stories so they can knock Frank Rich off the most e-mailed items list. A lot of what you see on the site comes from the e-mail tipster. I get probably 1,000 e-mails a day. It’s completely dynamic.

Rosen: Jessica, when did you feel you had mastery to write for Gawker?

Cohen: It took me about three months to feel comfotable with everything. Four months into it I felt like I had ownership.

Rosen: I started my blog because I was tired of filtering my ideas through the minds of journalists. I had written for CJR, The Nation, but I never got around the problem of filtering what I knew through a narrow gatekeeper — the journalist. When I learned of blogging, I knew this was for me. The reason was, I wanted to go around and speak directly to who might be interested. I asked people what works and they all had one thing in common: write short. That’s what the style is, that’s what works etc. I knew I was going to disobey that. My blog is an exercise in de-control of ideas. It’s one of the sites that sprung up to look at the media, gossip about it, examine it etc. I’m now writing about the breakup between Judy Miller and the New York Times, and NY Times people are e-mailing me, telling me to keep it up. In this media world, the Times can’t control the narrative.


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