Out of the press box and onto the field

Nov.
17
I have a personal announcement.

I am joining up with the new venture in news that Pierre Omidyar, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill are creating, along with Liliana Segura, Dan Froomkin, Eric Bates and others who are coming on board to give shape to this thing, which we are calling NewCo until we are ready to release the name.

Because it doesn’t exist yet, NewCo could take many forms. Only a handful of those possible paths will lead to a strong and sustainable company that meets a public need. Figuring that out is a hard problem, to which I am deeply attracted. So I signed up to be part of the launch team. This post explains why I made that decision and what I hope to contribute.

One voice at the table

About a month ago, I told readers of PressThink about Pierre Omidyar’s plans for a new venture in news, based on my interview with him and an earlier consultation when he was gathering advice. These, I thought, were the key points:

Omidyar believes that if independent, ferocious, investigative journalism isn’t brought to the attention of general audiences it can never have the effect that actually creates a check on power. Therefore the new entity — they have a name but they’re not releasing it, so I will just call it NewCo — will have to serve the interest of all kinds of news consumers. It cannot be a niche product. It will have to cover sports, business, entertainment, technology: everything that users demand.

At the core of Newco will be a different plan for how to build a large news organization. It resembles what I called in an earlier post “the personal franchise model” in news. You start with individual journalists who have their own reputations, deep subject matter expertise, clear points of view, an independent and outsider spirit, a dedicated online following, and their own way of working. The idea is to attract these people to NewCo, or find young journalists capable of working in this way, and then support them well.

“Support” means a powerful publishing platform that talented journalists can bend to their will. It means an up-to-date technology company resting inside the news company. It means editors to save writers from their errors, and maintain high standards. It means first class security and encryption for reporting on sensitive stories. A legal team for when trouble calls. Training and development for young journalists who are learning the NewCo style. Ownership that has pledged to invest it all in the journalism if and when revenues exceed expenses.

“Support” also means: “when you have a big story we bring a large audience to it.” Perhaps the most challenging part of the plan is this: Not a niche product. Has to serve a more general market for news.

“And how are they going to do that?…” is the one question I got more than any other in talking to people after my first post on Omidyar’s plan. Runner-up: what’s going to make this different from other ways to get news online? Those are good questions. So good that when Dan Froomkin and Glenn Greenwald called to ask me if I wanted to help create NewCo, I had to listen.

I also had to ask myself: what could I contribute? I don’t have credentials as an editor or a reporter and I have never started a business. Instead, I’ve been watching journalism evolve with the web since 2003. I’ve been trying to explain what makes it different in the digital era, paying close attention to problems of trust, shifts in authority and the pro-am or participatory forms that have slowly emerged since the rise of blogging around 2000. To put it another way, I have been all over this discussion: “Is Glenn Greenwald the Future of News?” I’ve also been advising media companies on adapting to the web and teaching young journalists — my graduate students at NYU — how to contribute to innovation in their craft.

Nobody has titles at NewCo yet. The agreement I have with Pierre Omidyar is that I will advise on building the company and participate in planning discussions as NewCo takes shape. One voice at the table, in other words. I will also explain its approach to journalism in written pieces that resemble my essays for PressThink. I am especially interested in the civic engagement and user participation puzzle, which is one part of …And how are they going to do that?

Also important: building a learning culture within the organization. (NewCo has to be its own J-school or it cannot succeed.) The contract I signed — yes, I am getting paid — is part time for the remainder of 2013. By luck I am on leave from NYU for the spring 2014 term. After the new year I can devote much more time to this venture, which I intend to do.

NYU, where I have made my home since 1986, is a research university. The purpose of that institution is to produce new knowledge. For me and the things I write and care about, NewCo is the most exciting project in journalism today. To be involved from the beginning in the birth of a company based on these ideas is the best test of my learning that I could devise. And I’m sure it will produce new knowledge, which I will share.

Things are going to change around here.

A simpler way to put it: This is PressThink come to life. The second part of this post (which is for the most interested readers…) explains what I mean by that. But first: my involvement in NewCo changes things between me and you, meaning: the people who read my writing and follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Up to this point, I have observed upon — and criticized! — the press from a position outside and independent of it. The only exceptions to that are these (previously disclosed) positions: Advisory board, Digital First Media; consultant, Post Media Network of Canada; director, Gazette Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Today’s announcement is different. From here on, I am a player in NewCo. I’m not just giving advice to a company that pre-dated my involvement. I am involved in the effort to create something. I am being paid $ for my participation. Unlike an “advisory” position there is no real separation between me and the people who are building NewCo from scratch. Therefore I have to publicly abandon any position as an observer or independent analyst of Pierre Omidyar’s new venture in news. Out of the press box and onto the field.

And so when I speak about it you are entitled to apply whatever discount rate you find appropriate. About the intentions of Pierre Omidyar, the journalism of Glenn Greenwald and the eventual product of NewCo I am no longer an independent analyst rendering judgment. Criticism will have to come from others. And I am sure it will.

I cannot say “Can’t wait to get started” because I have already started. And I don’t want to hear anything about “saving journalism” (a phrase I detest) because it doesn’t need saving and anyway that is not the plan. The plan is to build something that can sustain itself and produce excellent work.

Part Two: PressThink come to life.

Here are some posts I’ve written, selected from hundreds, that will meet their test as NewCo comes to life.

The View from Nowhere: Questions and Answers. (2010)

The View from Nowhere is a bid for trust that advertises the viewlessness of the news producer. Frequently it places the journalist between polarized extremes, and calls that neither-nor position “impartial.” Second, it’s a means of defense against a style of criticism that is fully anticipated: charges of bias originating in partisan politics and the two-party system. Third: it’s an attempt to secure a kind of universal legitimacy that is implicitly denied to those who stake out positions or betray a point of view. American journalists have almost a lust for the View from Nowhere because they think it has more authority than any other possible stance

The View from Nowhere won’t be a requirement for our journalists. Nor will a single ideology prevail. NewCo itself will have a  view of the world: Accountability journalism, exposing abuses of power, revealing injustices will no doubt be part of it. Under that banner many “views from somewhere” can fit.

Politics: some / Politics: none. Two ways to excel in political journalism. (2013)

If you want to appear equally sympathetic to all potential sources, politics: none is the way to go. If you want to avoid pissing off the maximum number of users, politics: none gets it done. (This has commercial implications. They are obvious.) But: if you’re persuaded that transparency is the better route to trust, politics: some is the better choice. And if you want to attract sources who themselves have a political commitment or have come to a conclusion about matters contested within the political community, being open about your politics can be an advantage. That is the lesson that Glenn Greenwald has been teaching the profession of journalism for the last week. Edward Snowden went to him because of his commitments. This has implications for reporters committed to the “no commitments” style.

Just as we wouldn’t force a point of view on people or expect them to fall in line, NewCo is not going to insist that everyone follow Greenwald’s lead. That’s not the point of a View from Somewhere approach. Rather: we think the way to stand out in a crowded marketplace is to let individual journalists shine in a way that works for them.

The rise of the personal franchise site in news. (2013)

Features of the personal franchise site:

* Star journalist at the center with a large online following and cross-platform presence.
* Editorial control rests largely or entirely with the founder and personality at the center.
* Part of a larger media company with a negotiated balance of power between the two states.
* Identifiable niche or niches; no attempt to be comprehensive.
* Plenty of voice, attitude and personal expression allowed.
* Mix of news, opinion, analysis without a lot of fuss about categorizing each.

Authority in journalism is shifting to the individual with a voice, subject matter expertise, and a following online. The structure and operating style of the company will attempt to solve for that. We don’t know exactly how yet but that is part of the adventure.

The People Formerly Known as the Audience. (2006)

The people formerly known as the audience are those who were on the receiving end of a media system that ran one way, in a broadcasting pattern, with high entry fees and a few firms competing to speak very loudly while the rest of the population listened in isolation from one another— and who today are not in a situation like that at all.

We haven’t talked about this much yet, but one of my goals as an adviser is to have built into the platform a more active role for the people formerly known as the audience. Something more than comment threads and share buttons.

From “write us a post” to “fill out this form:” Progress in pro-am journalism. (2011)

It took me a while to understand this myself, but I want to isolate an important fact at the outset.Professional journalism has been optimized for low participation. Up until a few years ago, the “job” of the user was simply to receive the news and maybe send a letter to the editor. There was a logic to this. Journalists built their practices on top of a one-way, one-to-many, broadcasting system. Most of us understand that by now. What we haven’t quite appreciated is how the logic of the one way, one-to-many pipes sunk deeply, not only into professional practice, but into professional selves.

What if you optimized for three possibilities: high participation, light involvement and none— just consumption? That would be the lesson of the one percent rule of online life, which says that if 100 people gather at your site, 90 will just use the product, ten will occasionally interact and one will become a core contributor. I want to see if we can build systems for that.

When I explained this move to my 12 year-old son, he said: Are you having a mid-life crisis? Nooooo, I replied, but as you get older (I’m 57) you have to find new challenges. “That’s cool,” he said, and went back to his waffles.

UPDATE: Dec. 4, 2013: For more see this interview with me on the Atlantic site: A News Organization That Rejects the View From Nowhere.

116 Comments

  1. Craig Silverman says:

    Congrats for signing on. Very excited to see what develops.

  2. PositivelyKAH says:

    If we really want to create a reputable, thought provoking news source, it should not be all things news. Be really good at objective news on a great platform in just a few areas and then strategically grow the product. Solve the American problem of niche news by being excellent at delivering specific news sets. Then sell the brand to those of us who want to know more and don’t want to be sold a point of view. Then grow the brand. My two cents.

  3. Tremendous, well done Jay: News from Somewhere.

  4. Robin 'Roblimo' Miller says:

    Want me to work with you in this new venture? As you know, I have a unique skillset besides being a pretty good reporter and writer. I’m not much into the “journalist as star” thing; my style is far too self-effacing for that. But we should talk.

  5. Sincere and hearty congratulations, Jay. Could you be leaving the “old” testament of journalism to go off and write your own with Mr. Omidyar et al? I eagerly await the results. Looking forward to the next chapter of your career. Every good thing & mazeltov!

  6. bystander says:

    Apologies in advance, Jay, for being the “party pooper”… or, the thunderhead raining on your parade…

    As the Greenwald/Omidyar team has been assembling, and each round of additions has been announced, I’ve been holding my breath hoping that you would not be among them.

    There are going to be all kinds of writers and critics wanting to hold this project accountable. I had sincerely hoped that you would remain on the outside so that you could be an arms-length observer. Selfishly (?), I wanted one person I could pretty much trust without having to verify every.little.thing that gets written.

    So, kudos for your willingness to sign on. I’m sure the effort will be better for your involvement than it would have been without it. Boo-hoo, for me. And, congratulations to NewCo for getting you to agree to come aboard.

    May it be a stunning success for all of you.

    • Dan Fenster says:

      This is an interesting point. I thought about this when reading Jay’s disclaimer re: observing/participating. Isn’t this the point of challenging the view from nowhere? We know you’re on board now Jay, got it; that doesn’t mean you can’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t give us your most honest opinion about the organization or about news or… well, anything, right? I don’t know, it sounds like you’re preemptively apologizing for becoming their PR hack or something. Which I don’t think you’re trying to do, for the record. I think you’re trying to create self-sustaining public affairs journalism.

      Hm. Maybe you’re just explicitly stating from the outset the Somewhere your View will be coming from, to be as open and transparent as possible. Which would make this entire comment moot.

      But then again, that sort of disclaimer cuts at the inherent validity of the View From Somewhere, no? I mean, part of this project is about individuals building credibility and a following outside of any organization or institution, then having them bring that along to a group with more resources and focus aimed at market stability. Should we be questioning the trust and reputation you guys have built individually as independents now that you’re in this project, or is that contradicting your/our selves?

    • Jay Rosen says:

      I was trying to be as clear as possible that you should not expect criticism of NewCo and its players from me when I am involved in this way. That will have to come from others. I don’t usually say something like that, so perhaps I over-stressed the point.

      • “I was trying to be as clear as possible that you should not expect criticism of NewCo and its players from me when I am involved in this way. That will have to come from others.” — Jay Rosen

        It seems to me that you recently expected CBS Sixty Minutes to rigorously criticise themselves and their own work product when you and others thought it didn’t meet accuracy and source credibility standards. If you can’t apply that same open and self-critical expectation to yourself, then you should seriously rethink this project.

        • Big Bob W says:

          Michael Murry is spot on. Maybe instead of rethinking the project, you can rethink your stance on reflexivity and the importance of your freedom/willingness to critique of NewCo going forward…

      • Jay Rosen says:

        Well, let me try again. Obviously if NewCo screws up a big story, NewCo will have to suck it up and look at what went wrong and try to be as open and honest as it can. Self-reflection, self-criticism will be fully in order. You can expect me to push for that from the inside. And maybe I will write about it, as well.

        What I meant is: during this period when NewCo is just a concept and all we are doing is announcing things and making plans, I am not going to be criticizing the people I am teaming up with. I won’t be writing essays on, say, the flawed premises in Omidyar’s new venture, which is the sort of thing I might have done at a blog called PressThink, because if I think a premise is flawed it’s my job to argue for that view inside the organization. I have never had that role before.

        Thus: “You should not expect criticism of NewCo and its players from me when I am involved in this way.”

        I don’t think it’s that hard to understand why I say that.

  7. Karen Unland says:

    I am cheering for you so hard in this. Your observations from the press box have made such a difference in the way we think; when tested in the field on a team where you have real influence, just imagine.

  8. Dan Fenster says:

    Hm. Still feels vague to me, but I am extremely excited. Hell of a team.

  9. Congratulations, Jay. You’re in a great position to help make this a success, which I devoutly hope it will be.

    \-\/\/

  10. Alan Mairson says:

    Wow. Congratulations, Jay! I’ll miss your commentary & criticism from the pressbox, but I can’t wait to see what’s about to unfold on the field. Best of luck to you & your new teammates.

  11. Dean Wright says:

    Congratulations, Jay.

    NewCo couldn’t have done better in hiring someone who has been such a thoughtful observer and critic of the evolution of journalism.

    This is one of the most exciting ventures to come along in a long, long time.

  12. AnonyMouse says:

    Ok Jay, you’ve made your bed with Omidyar.

    Do you know how bloody the sheets you’re sleeping in are? Are you aware of his extremely unsavory connection to the microfunding scandal in India?

    How he financed & supported an organization that led to the death of up to 200 indebted peasants?

    How agents who worked for the organization he funded encouraged women to commit suicide? And prostitute their daughters! The part where they were stripped of their jewelry first adds special resonance.

    But don’t let me tell this story. Let’s let the AP do it, ok? http://finance.yahoo.com/news/ap-impact-lenders-own-probe-080122405.html

    Ah, the jewelry of the dead. Which part of your awesome new publishing platform will that finance?

    This is only 1 of Omidyar’s fascinating adventures in underdeveloped nations. There’s so much more, Jay, should you do your homework. Too late now, tho’. You’re on board.

    • bystander says:

      IMO, you’re wading in a really shallow pool “Mouse.” The problem of Omidyar’s foray into micro-lending – while not minor – is only a piece of a potentially bigger issue; ie, that of Omidyar’s apparent support of/belief in the neo-liberal project. Ames and Levine take that smaller story and run with it to cast a wider net.

      Interestingly, given Ames and Levine’s premise, what they seem to leave untouched is it’s not some “L/libertarian” supporting and providing a platform for “anti-statist” writers. Rather, Omidyar is assembling a group of writers who have written critically of various aspects of private-public partnerships (Third Way/Neo-Liberal: market will solve all ‘stuff’). Whether it’s the prison industrial complex, defense contractors, national security contractors, corporate campaign finance, the courts and the justice departments multi-tiered sentencing … these writers have been less anti-government than they have been critical of the way corporations, the elite and “establishment” entities work with/through/on government to routinely thwart democratic processes and subvert democracy itself.

      I’m a lot less willing than you to paint “guilt by association,” but – (emphasizing!) to the extent that Ames and Levine’s reporting is accurate – I do think it is an interesting discontinuity. Still, as Jack Shafer observes:

      Jack Shafer ‏@jackshafer

      .@Pierre is so rotten rich he can hire friends, enemies, critics, and bystanders and still put out a good product.

      I have a great deal of respect for the team that has been assembled so far. My money’s on them. But, we’ll just have to wait and see.

    • Bill Michtom says:

      Nowhere in that story does Omidyar’s name appear. Nor do I see his name when looking at Wikipedia entries for the companies mentioned.

      Care to support your accusations?

      • greensleeves says:

        Just a simple Google search seems to support these allegations, Bill Michtom.

        The bad actor in India was an group called SKS. They received funding from another group called Unitus. And that Unitus group was in turn funded by Omidyar via his foundation, the Omidyar Network, for at least a cool 11 million.

        So yes, if you walk back through Omidyar’s chain of shells – or however you want to describe Omidyar’s “investment” here – the above contention appears to be correct. Omidyar was a significant player in this debacle and it’s not unreasonable he be held to account.

        When that group went public, it seems a whole ugly mess emerged as well. There was nothing clean about Omidyar’s situation with Unitus, it appears. Check out this article, whose last paragraph ties Omidyar to Unitus, which again, as alleged, does seem to have been firmly involved in the SKS suicide issue: http://philanthropy.com/article/Closure-of-Poverty-Fighting/66245/?sid=&utm_source=&utm_medium=en

  13. Jerry Ceppos says:

    Congratulations, Jay! We’ll have to invite you back to the Manship School!

  14. Montecarlo says:

    Good Luck.

    I think your new journalism venture could potentially change how we look at politics. Our current coverage is mostly from people who relish their access and insider’s knowledge. Bill James is a baseball writer who in 1984, he wrote a very good essay, Inside Out Perspective about writing from an outsider’s vantage point.

    I’ve never said, never thought, that it was better to be an outsider than it was to be an insider, that my view of the game was better than everyone else’s. It’s different; better in some ways, worse in some ways. What I have said is, since we are outsiders, since the players are going to put up walls to keep us out here, let us use our position as outsiders to what advantage we can. Let us back off from the trees, look at the forest as a whole, and see what we can learn from that. Let us stop pretending to be insiders if we’re not. Let us fly over the forest, you and I, and look down; let us measure every tract of land and map out all the groves, and draw in every path that connects each living thing. Let us drive around the edges and photograph each and every tree from a variety of angles and with a variety of lenses; and insiders will be amazed at what we can help them to see. Or maybe they won’t; who knows. But anyway, we’ll have some fun. Snake oil, $1.95

  15. Dick Tofel says:

    It will be a shame, Jay, to lose the benefit of your independent critique of this new venture– and also of its competitors, with respect to whom you’re now, of course, conflicted. But I wish you the very best of luck with NewCo, both creatively and commercially.

  16. Adam Sweet says:

    I’m worried this will become JAFNO (just another frickin news organization). We have enough of those! And I’m disappointed that you will have “sports” and “entertainment” as topics. I’m not interested in those. They are not “news”

  17. The plan is to build something that can sustain itself and produce excellent work

    I’m not sure that’s a solid enough, or worthy enough, plan. You could make the argument that the Huffington Post satisfies both these criteria. Sustaining the endeavor is important, but how, and to what end? While HuffPost has some excellent content — both writing and reporting — the way in which it sustains itself, and the threshold of excellence (ha!) that it uses for inclusion, render the website laughably regressive. One of my expectations/hopes out of NewCo is that it basically renders HuffPost obsolete by way of example.

    • Valid critiques, but coming from a third party political party makes it a bit Orwellian. The Democratic Party has grown regressive because the progressives left the party. Third party journalism will have the same problem. People read echoes of what they already believe. Culling out another small group will have no impact (especially if it covers the trite stuff like sports and weather).

      We need to improve what we have, be Puritans, not Pilgrims. Pilgrims cannot get along with anyone and self-righteousness can come from the left or the right. The straight and narrow requires a rigorous intellectual honesty and a willingness to self-evaluate.

      • Rachel Gordon says:

        Sports & weather (etc) are only as trite as they’re written. Plenty of news to be found relating to them — labor issues, preparedness, response times, etc. There are plenty of substantial blogs on any of these topics out there. Also, these ‘little’ things can keep people reading your site even when they skim over the big stories of the day. I hope they have comics, too. Plenty of cartoonists out there who should be paid well for their work.

        & progressives (& assorted other actual leftists) have been pushed out of the party for the past 30 or so years, by neoliberals & former republicans. The ‘big tent’ is notorious for only allowing entry from the right (& exit for the left). The big problem I see with the ‘3rd party’ thing is that there are so many of them — and all seem to have given up on changing the Democratic party. But I don’t see how high-profile other-than-mainstream actual journalism can be anything other than good.

  18. Alan says:

    I’ve been loosely following NewCo and it just got much more interesting. Very best wishes!

  19. Bill Michtom says:

    Congratulations, Jay! This is exciting news.

  20. Andy Donohue says:

    Congrats, Jay. A most excellent development. This thing just keeps getting more interesting.

  21. Sandy Rowe says:

    Congratulations to you, Jay, and to NewCo for bringing you on board. Their chances for success in this important venture just increased immensely.

    • Jay Rosen says:

      Is this the Sandy Rowe, formerly of Norfolk, Portland, ASNE, etc? Thank you so much for saying that.

      • Sandy Rowe says:

        Yes, I used to be Sandy Rowe.

        Building a broadly appealing news organization with a “learning culture” from scratch is a fascinating challenge. I’ll be especially interested in how you cultivate the culture, which you correctly identify as essential, with the star network being recruited. I’m in NY fairly regularly — let’s touch base on that sometime. Cheers to you!

  22. Mark says:

    Knew there had to be some reason why you’d backed off Lara Logan and 60 Minutes.

    Personal enrichment. Oldest reason in the world.

      • Mark says:

        Jay,

        Initiating the story and then backing off to line your own pockets are not the same thing.

        You never contacted Laura Washington at The Sun-Times to determine:

        1. Logan’s statements to the Chicago luncheon in October 2012 re. “retribution” for Ambassador Stevens’s death and/or the audience’s response;

        2. Washington’s endorsement at the end of her Sun-Times’ column for Logan’s aforementioned statements;

        3. Washington, a self-styled “Media Dervish”, decision to maintain near complete silence on the whole Logan-Benghazi-60 Minutes story aside from a tweet and re-tweet on her own “Media Dervish” feed and absolutely nothing in her Sun-Times column;

        4. The fact that the date of Logan’s speech for “retribution” in Chicago corresponds almost exactly with the year-long reporting and investigative timeline that Logan and her 60 Minutes bosses have pitched to justify the story’s credibility when first questioned; and,

        5. Why 60 Minutes allowed a reporter who had made a speech to 1,100 “influentials” (whatever the hell that means and they are) calling for “retribution” for Stevens’s death to then spend a year, or so it claims, reporting on and then presenting a story that used a phony informant to cast the U.S. in the worst possible light for the entire Benghazi incident. Why did 60 Minutes allow anyone with publicly professed and reported views to even do such a story? And why did you go silent?

        Oh, you went silent – to get paid. Congrats. Keep it offshore. Set up an LLC. You’ll do fine.

        Meanwhile, you and your fellow children in the Hamptons and Georgetown Cocktail Club, otherwise known as the N.Y. and D.C. media, all roll merrily along to the next caper.

        Riddle me that, or do you just prefer to take the Eli “He Lie” Lake tack of screaming “antisemitism” whenever you are questioned?

        • Mark says:

          Silence.

          Always the best defense in the wake of failing to perform one’s duties in the interests of self-promotion and getting paid.

          • Mark says:

            “–In October of 2012, one month before starting work on the Benghazi story, Logan made a speech in which she took a strong public position arguing that the US Government was misrepresenting the threat from Al Qaeda, and urging actions that the US should take in response to the Benghazi attack. From a CBS News Standards perspective, there is a conflict in taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi and Al Qaeda, while continuing to report on the story.”

            Al Ortiz
            Executive Director of Standards and Practices
            CBS News

            #####

            Beats me, Jay, but I could swear I’d read something about the discredited Ms. Logan’s revenge speech in Chicago somewhere on the Internet. I wonder where it was?????

            Oh, now I remember!

            Mark
            November 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm

            Jay,

            Initiating the story and then backing off to line your own pockets are not the same thing.

            You never contacted Laura Washington at The Sun-Times to determine:

            1. Logan’s statements to the Chicago luncheon in October 2012 re. “retribution” for Ambassador Stevens’s death and/or the audience’s response;

            2. Washington’s endorsement at the end of her Sun-Times’ column for Logan’s aforementioned statements;

            3. Washington, a self-styled “Media Dervish”, decision to maintain near complete silence on the whole Logan-Benghazi-60 Minutes story aside from a tweet and re-tweet on her own “Media Dervish” feed and absolutely nothing in her Sun-Times column;

            4. The fact that the date of Logan’s speech for “retribution” in Chicago corresponds almost exactly with the year-long reporting and investigative timeline that Logan and her 60 Minutes bosses have pitched to justify the story’s credibility when first questioned;

            #####

            Sure am glad you worked real hard to land your new gig – when you should have been getting comments from Ms. Logan and the Media Dervish (sic) about that speech.

            They need any help at your new gig? You know, someone who’s professional and doesn’t cut corners for friends, doesn’t worry about where their next offshore dinero is coming from, and doesn’t give a rat’s backside about winning friends and influencing people and kissing lackey’s backsides?

            If so, gimme a call. We’ll do lunch. You buy.

            My best to Avigdor and Naftali.

  23. Shaun Dakin says:

    Good luck. Something new is needed. I’ll be one of the first to read what NewCo publishes.

  24. Joey Baker says:

    Amazing! Congrats to you Prof. And to News Co.

  25. Huma says:

    World will soon be a better place because of people like you.Good luck.

  26. RW says:

    I am curious about a couple of things not addressed yet. Is this going to be English language only site? Is it a US base oriented site meaning the news and features are targeted to mainly a US audience? Will there be voices allowed who are virulently opposed to the US from other nations (Iran etc). Will the new venture continue indefinitely even if it does not pay for itself?

  27. Bob says:

    I hope the new venture will go beyond foreign policy and include a reality based view of economics.

  28. arne says:

    What about calling it HOV ?
    The hov was actually the temple of the gods in ancient Norwegian literature, and may be the heaven of insight, critical thinking and research in the digital network society.
    I could contribute with the domain name hov.com
    and promote the venture in Scandinavia, the place on earth that is most wired and most e-ready.
    Best Arne

  29. Mark Drapeau says:

    Very interesting, Jay. Very much look forward to seeing and reading more. Mark

  30. David says:

    NewCo is looking to be ever better. I look forward to subscribing (yay!), via PayPal (boo).

  31. ScuzzaMan says:

    Jay,

    Please (PLEASE) acquire a copy of Chris Locke’s “Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices”.

    What you’re talking about in terms of participation, Locke anticipated years ago. Subsequent events have only proven him correct. But in that work he has many profound insights into the nature of conversation (i.e. dialogue) and how the internet overturns the historic unidirectional shouting-in-your-ear pattern of the preceding “broadcast” technologies.

    Oh, and give it to Greenwald when you’re done. He will immediately grok the points being made.

    Very glad to see you on board.

  32. Todd Smekens says:

    Jay,

    Been following NewCo and the theme it represents. We’ve been on the outside being critical for several years. I’m located in Middletown, USA, which has been an interesting venue to watch the war on the poor since the “poor” turned out to be the victims of the end of our industrial revolution. Wish you luck on the new project, and would keep Muncie Voice and Middletown Voice in mind as you start assembling your team. Being an outlier has advantages and disadvantages, you can build trust and credibility, but that doesn’t pay the rent. ;)

  33. Todd Smekens says:

    And, by the way, this was our article this weekend. http://muncievoice.com/9382/glenn-greenwald-myth-free-press-truth/

    My vantage point is leadership and entrepreneurship – journalism is more about perception than anything.

  34. Mark says:

    What us your opinion on the ethics of Scahill, one of Newco’s founders, very publicly participating in a campaign against Mother Agnes, (a campaign which includes defamation and threats) without providing any detail of the grounds on which his participation in that campaign is based?

  35. Awesome news, Jay. Can’t wait to see what emerges.

  36. Jay, this is great!

    I figure you’ll advance the cause of trustworthy and accountable journalism, which can change the whole industry.

    A focus on trustworthiness in journalism will threaten people; please stay the course. Thanks!

  37. Aron Blue says:

    Congratulations! This venture is turning into the Hall of Justice for journalists. I love it.

  38. Bravo Jay,

    Having walked the line of industry and academy, I know you will find this a compelling adventure. I’ve looked deeply at these models, and find the new twist a great relief from foundation manufactured model. I suggest a close look at the http://www.voiceofoc.org/ where Norberto Santana is the archetype – the real deal..

    • Jay Rosen says:

      Thanks very much, Elizabeth. I did not know of that site. Will check into it.

      VC’s need to get their money out. Foundations just need to get out. This isn’t either one.

  39. Cryptome says:

    Any news, gossip, hints, schedules, when the Snowden material will be fully released? Seems to be petering out in favor of ever more editorializing. Sure hope NewCo opens with a full disclosure of its heavily advertized family jewels for all to evaluate their worth. Without that disclosure not much reason to continue, well, except for the “irresistable opportunity” to fuck off like the 1%.

  40. Tom Stites says:

    Congratulations, Jay. This project gets ever more interesting, and adding your wisdom and independent perspective to the mix will accelerate that. If I weren’t so devoted to the Banyan Project I’d be tempted to throw my own hat into the NewCo ring.

  41. Obviously we need a “Name NewCo” contest.

    My entry: d’Press.

    Nonstandard caps, gratuitous punctuation, vaguely disturbing — the kids will love it.

    • Jay Rosen says:

      I’m secretly hoping NewCo News becomes the name. I think it bounces off the tongue.

      • RW says:

        Branding is obviously not your strong point. NewCo sounds like a new pyramid sales and marketing outfit like HerbalLife.
        Or a VC outfit like Bain Capital operating under a shell corp to avoid negative publicity as it devours and asset strips an otherwise good company.

        Maybe New American Free Press ?

      • NewCo News is distinctive, even a tad humorous, while New American Free Press might well be a Regnery or Breitbart outfit.

        Let us not forget the greatest newspaper name of all: The Tombstone Epitaph.

  42. Moe says:

    Oh dear I just found you and now . . . I hope it wasn’t me who pushed you away! (That does happen to me a lot.)

    That said, NewCo sounds exciting and I look forward to it. Great success!

  43. I am thrilled about NewCo, by the way. Seldom do I find a communications project so promising that it’s worth proselytizing about.

  44. delia ruhe says:

    Wow! What a team Omidyar’s putting together. With every new, superb hire I get more and more impatient for NewCo to go online.

    Congrats, Jay Rosen

  45. Jay Rosen says:

    Putting this here so I can link to it.

    There have been lots of questions from friends and subscribers to my Twitter feed along the lines of: are you leaving NYU? The answer is no. I had already scheduled a leave to work on a very different project in spring and summer of 2014. Instead, I will work on NewCo, and maybe a few other things. In the fall of 2014, I will go back to full time at NYU. At that point my role in NewCo will change; we’ll work something out.

  46. From my experience in developing new news products and experiences I have to say that the ground floor of a new project is the most exciting phase.

    I am glad you’ll be putting your insights to work for this venture.

    First questions in my mind are:
    • Who is the audience?
    • Where, when and and on what devices will they consume and engage the content?
    • What story forms best meet these needs?

    Once you workshop those, a strategy can emerge.

    Robb Montgomery
    Berlin, Germany

  47. “Support” also means: “when you have a big story we bring a large audience to it.”

    You mention that “How Are They Going To Do That?” is the number one question about the project, referring to building large audiences. There is a more important antecedent question, namely “What Do You Mean By Large?”

    Presumably NewCo is not dedicated to the quixotic mission of reconstituting the mass media. Granted, all those verticals, each headed by its personal franchise star, may, in aggregate, amount to a general news site. But that is not a mechanism for creating a large audience for any given piece of content. What incentive do audiences have to switch over from one component vertical to another?

    Largeness does not seem to be required by the business plan. It seems clear that economic sustainability is more likely to emerge from an ensemble of niches. The rationale for amassing a large audience is civic, not economic. As you paraphrase Omidyar: “…if independent, ferocious, investigative journalism isn’t brought to the attention of general audiences it can never have the effect that actually creates a check on power.”

    How big does such a general audience have to be? Do you the political science research on the effectiveness of various audience sizes in influencing debate or changing policy? Is it really true that large audiences on a given issue are easier to accumulate in the context of a pre-existing general news site? How about building them through stand-alone documentaries, such as An Inconvenient Truth did?

    In the heyday of the television network news divisions, they would expect 30% of the population. At ABC News, Roone Arledge assembled his own set of “personal franchise stars,” each with their own personality and worldview. Peter Jennings. Ted Koppel, David Brinkley, Barbara Walters. San Donaldson. Diane Sawyer. Arledge used the cutting-edge technology of his time to invent unprecedented ways to bring journalism to a general audience. He had Jennings anchor the evening news from London. He competed against late-night Hollywood talkshows with Koppel’s hard-news satellite-remote newsmaker interviews from Washington DC.

    Funnily enough, in their own way, each of those famously feuding and headstrong anchors was “part of a larger media company with a negotiated balance of power between the two states.” Arledge managed them that way. Also, funnily enough, while Arledge did succeed in accumulating the vast audiences he sought, they made very few profits for his corporate masters at the ABC network, because of the budgets he gleefully busted to attract the spotlight he desired.

    Nevertheless, with the understanding that Arledge’s motives have nothing in common with Omidyar’s, how different are the underlying methods?

    A team of superstar anchors in search of a mass audience.

    By the way, Jay, congratulations on the gig.

  48. Robert Meyerowitz says:

    Congratulations, Jay. It’s the beginning of a great adventure.

  49. Brigid says:

    Congratulations – look forward to how it all evolves.

  50. Jay, that’s exciting and great news. Enjoy the ride. I’ll be among those rooting for you and Team NewCo to come up with something distinctive, important, thoughtful AND profitable. All the better if it’s ground-breaking and amazing.

  51. Richard Steven Hack says:

    My main problem with this project is whether it and the journalists it has assembled can actually take on what should be the primary role of journalism: the penetration to the depths of corruption in the “deep state”, i.e., that confluence of corporate and state power that actually runs this country (and pretty much every other country.)

    For that to happen, you can’t just have journalists talking to the PR departments of companies and agencies. You’ll need a whistleblower program on a par with Wikileaks. You’ll need people who can skirt the bounds of “propriety” and penetrate deeper into these organizations while not getting assassinating as a result.

    You need people who are a combination of war correspondent, hacker and James Bond – who can also write well.

    You need people behind them who can construct an intelligible background to put the “breaking news” in context for the readers.

    Tall order.

  52. Richard Steven Hack says:

    And you need grammar checkers: “assassinating” s/b “assassinated”… :-)

  53. Lilly Evans says:

    Congratulations from a news and opinions magpie. I have been observing news organisations for a long time and it has become clear that innovation in this business will not come from within.

    Jay you have led five or so years ago with crowd sourcing project (with able support to rookies like myself from David Kohn) at the time this was a very new concept. Now we have Arianna Huffington being at all top tables reserved for editors of illustrious paper institutions like NYT. Yet Huffington Post has been around less than a decade.

    It must be fantastic to be at the beginning of a new venture where so many possibilities are open. Enjoy the ride. Moving from East Coast to West Coast or even Hawaii type culture is going to be interesting.

    May you and the growing team around NewsCo get to recapture the spirit of journalism that has slowly but surely seeped out of venerable newspaper institutions as dedicated proprietors gave way to money hungry corporate owners. In that respect NewsCo has a great chance to be again one of Good Companies where the ethos as well as quality of journalism matter.

    Very best of luck
    Lilly

    PS Many thanks for your attention to my earlier mistake. Much appreciated especially in the midst of all responses and presentations you had.

  54. Kathy Gill says:

    Jay, this is great news all around! I hope this can be a successful east coast/west coast marriage; lately I’ve been thinking about (and missing, to some extent) how many US institutions related to journalism and civic life are 3K miles from Seattle. There is a brashness in the west coast ethic that leads to experiments like this one; can it pull the more institutionally-conservative east coast organizations into “today”?

    Your part in the venture reminds me a little of Don Norman who left life as an academic to work with Apple and Dell — in part to test his ideas. His book, The Design of Everyday Things, is 25 years old (and he just rewrote it!) and the ideas there pulled me into HCI back in 1994.

    Good luck! Shout if you get up to Seattle. And keep us as informed as possible.

  55. Nate Bowman says:

    Congratulations Jay

    I am glad you will be part of the team and look forward to your writing.

    I do not think your involvement disqualifies you from commenting on anything. You have proven to be an astute observer and a brilliant (even iconoclastic) analyst. Your work speaks for itself and I don’t expect that to change.

    The only times I have disagreed with you is when I feel you have put the coining of a new phrase ahead of the analysis.

  56. Me says:

    Does NewCo have a “send us a suggestion” form or email address?

  57. Jeff Stanger says:

    You allude to this in your opening — a technology company resting inside a newsroom. I’m as intrigued as much by *how* NewCo will tell its stories as *what* stories it will tell. My gut tells me that more words on a page, no matter how novel or insightful, won’t cut the mustard (David Carr has a good line about this that I’ll have to dig up). NewCo will I hope contribute to reinventing the “article” form with the modern digital toolkit — unique stories, uniquely (digitally) told.

    Best of luck with the new venture, Jay.

  58. Jay Rosen says:

    Thanks very much.

    One thought about what you said: The more original, compelling and just plain wonderful the story is, the less worrisome the “old” article format is.

    It’s for the more routine news that we need re-invention.

  59. Jay Rosen says:

    On Twitter, Daniel Altman, a columnist for Foreign Policy magazine among other gigs, asks whether this represents advocacy and is going too far:

    His points: “Op-eds for something like Snowden asylum feel like journalism. Managing campaign less so… I hope you guys will define where, if anywhere, you draw advocacy/journalism line… Maybe worth saying when you depart from journalism and just become political operator.”

    https://twitter.com/altmandaniel/status/404251905171271680

    “Where do you draw the line?” is considered to be the great question in journalism ethics. In my experience it is more often used to shut down discussion and short-circuit thought. The terminus points are usually: “Oh, well that crosses the line for me,” or “it depends on the situation” or “you know it when you see it,” none of which prove very helpful, except in making people think they have been responsible and aired an ethics discussion.

    At this point–the point I’m at right now–someone usually says, in a tone of impatience: So anything goes, then? Just a free-for-all? Is that what you’re saying, Jay?

    No. That’s not what I am saying. Let me repeat that, slowly. No. That’s. Not. It. At. All.

    I think most of these “where do you draw the line?” questions are not quite grasping the logic of transparency, which is neither “anything goes, free for all…” nor traditional line drawing based on some quasi-fixed rules of journalism. In the transparency system, there are four steps— not just for NewCo but for anyone operating in this way:

    1. We disclose where we’re coming from and any interests, commitments, entanglements that may be relevant.

    2. You — the users, readers, viewers — make note of that and keep it in mind as the transaction unfolds.

    3. We then do our work, our journalism, our criticism, our writing and documentary-making, attempting to obey high standards in such bedrock matters as factuality, verification, evidence and intellectual honesty, but making no claim to priestly objectivity, View from Nowhere, Voice of God, just the facts, right down the middle, news cured of all “opinion,” trust us we’re the professionals, etc.

    4. Keeping in mind our disclosures and your prior experience with us, and applying whatever discount rate you find appropriate, you — the users, readers, viewers — then look at the work and determine the reliability index for the journalism in question. And that is where the line is drawn between trust-worthy and not. The users are the people who draw it. Power has shifted. It’s between them, the disclosers, and the work. It’s not up to the Poynter Institute, the Society of Professional Journalists, or one journalist demanding of another: where do you draw the line?

    • Gail says:

      “In the transparency system, there are four steps— not just for NewCo but for anyone operating in this way”

      To me, these four steps should be prominently stated such that the these basic and critical concepts become ingrained in the NewCo’s culture. It could even be called intellectual honesty?

      I wish you and NewsCo such a legacy.

  60. Celine says:

    The good news here is that with $250 million in cash to burn through, it should take a while before Jay’s advice drives this company into bankruptcy. But you never know!

    Will Newassignment.net be folded into this company? It looks to be thriving!

  61. Jozef Imrich says:

    Dear Jay

    I want to become a friend of NewCo as I am a friend of most reliable community spirited broadcasters, newspapers etc

    coda: may you create many memories as organisations are all about people who shape them – http://www.fabcnsw.org.au/PDFs/MikeCarltonABCSpeech26Aug2011.pdf

    Best wishes
    Jozef

    • Jay Rosen says:

      “I want to become a friend of NewCo…”

      This is one of the problems I am most interested in. How do you “join” NewCo, or maybe more to the point: how do you “join” Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, etc… or “join” an investigation.

  62. Jozef imrich says:

    I want to be there when you brain storm the name for your venture Jay ;-)

    “The plan is to build something that can sustain itself and produce excellent work.”

    An apple a day kept Steve Job’s venture in good stead for ages …

    If you start with common names like ” Oyster” it might help unnamed idea to develop … I know that you will not only think outside the box like Murdoch – you guys ;and gals?) will actually built new box!

    Good Riddance
    Jozef
    PS: Attributed to me yet I only suggested to do things differently to Microsoft ;-)
    http://www.borfast.com/pt/blog/the-meaning-my-signature

  63. Me says:

    Request: a PressThink post on the emerging billionaire-vs.-billionaire funding landscape and prospective implications for journalism. Does it call for rethinking ethics and practices, for how to get the best overall coverage & how to best inform readers? What risks does it create?

  64. Ben Franklin says:

    Make sure you include Craig Murray in your blogroll.

  65. Tom Elliot says:

    Jay, congrats on joining this operation. Reading through the comments I find the usual chorus of “gotchas” highly amusing, centering mostly on the “you didn’t do what I wanted you to do on story X!” (Logan this time around).

    Your voice will be extremely valuable here. Since this is a company with, I assume, a board of directors of some sort, I highly recommend that you read up on some of Dr. John Carver’s work on boards and how organization can be effectively led while being allowed to thrive. “Reinventing Your Board” is an excellent start, even though you aren’t reinventing a board specifically it represents the clearest explanation I’ve found for new organizations. The concepts embedded in his coherent model are ones you may find interesting and informative as you look to structure your organization to be as flexible and creative as a possible while also holding to a solid level of accountability.

    This may seem far afield of journalism as first glance but when it comes to organizational coherence it can be an extremely useful tool.

  66. Richard Aubrey says:

    It would be interesting if you kept a journal of discussions about which stories and issues to go after and which to pass.

  67. wendy says:

    great plan!!!! very excited yet wonder about the name newco sounds like nuko… weird nuclear bomb dr strangelove kinda thing …what about adding the s

    newsco??? just my impression

    great project!!!

  68. Daniel says:

    Hello. I have recently discovered pressthink and have only read a few posts, however when seeing this new post just now, in which you have announced you will be teaming up with Omidyar, I became curious as to what other commentors have to say about this.

    In sifting through all the previous comments here, I am aghast at the lack of any of your readership asking why you (and Greenwald and Poitras, for that matter) would not be concerned about Omidyar’s possible connections to (or at least history of collaborating with) the NSA.

    That PayPal was a key player in shutting up Wikileaks by denying them any means of fundraising through online donations, is damning enough, but perhaps even worse is the PayPal’s collusion with the NSA (a rogue entity within the US government that has and still is trampling upon the Bill of Rights. That Omidyar has been an NSA enabler has been revealed by Tice and Binney, two NSA whistleblowers whose revelations predated Snowden’s but whom the media largely ignored because they did not produce classified documents as Snowden did.