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Who Are Those People, Anyway? Us

Jay Rosen: The People Formerly Known as the Audience. The people formerly known as the audience are simply the public made realer, less fictional, more able, less predictable. You should welcome that, media people. But whether you do or not we want you to know we’re here.

What traditional media folks need to do is welcome the former audience into the journalism process itself, in addition to celebrating (and pointing to) the best independent work. So far, the activity has been all too limited.

This is a survival question for media organizations. I wonder how long it will take for them to understand.

4 Comments on “Who Are Those People, Anyway? Us”

  1. #1 Seth Finkelstein
    on Jun 27th, 2006 at 9:07 am

    Old joke: What do you mean “we”, paleface? [mutatis mutandis == A-lister?]

    Dan, we’re still the audience. If you don’t like my comment, you can personally attack me to a number of readers that is *orders of magnitude* more than I could realistically reach myself. I have no effective way to reply. That’s “audience”.

    If I do volunteer journalism, but it is not propagated by A-list gatekeepers, and not appealing enough for the popular sites, it’ll be ignored. That’s “audience”.

    And what happens if the professional journalist just doesn’t care if he or she gets it wrong, as long as it brings in the crowd? That’s “audience”.

    Don’t shoot the messenger.

  2. #2 tish grier
    on Jun 28th, 2006 at 5:32 am

    Welcoming people–yes. How, though, should this be done? Should media people incorporate hand-selected “citizen” voices into their fold? or should they mentor citizen efforts instead? Should they link to folks who are critical of them–thus perhaps helping foster vital civic conversation? or should they “mentor” people by directing their message as not to offend their advertisers or local poltical figures?

    You’re right though, Dan, that the activity has been limited. My sense, though, is that the limitations come from fear–fear on the part of media to be confronted with the idea that their efforts might have failed the general populace, and fear that their business models might totally collapse if they do anything that encourages new media endeavors outside of their auspices.

    There’s also, though, a fear of interacting with the public not en mass, but as individuals…and that, on the part of some media people, may come from a loss in ability to simply be friendly and converse. The top-down communication process is sometimes terribly hard to break because it means breaking out of one’s comfort zone.

    I wonder, though, how this change can be done on an individual level. Maybe some of “the people” should get to know “the journalists” as individuals and vice verse…find out what makes each other tick, without any motivations other than forging friendships. Maybe the kind of friendships that necessarily mean we’ll go bowling together–but the kinds of friendships where we can enlighten our perspectives of one another, free of any ulterior motives and simply respect each other’s thoughts and actions.

    just call me a cock-eyed optimist I guess.

  3. #3 brigitte nacos
    on Jun 28th, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    Seth Finkelstein is right–even in the age of blogging, most remain in the audience. It seems to me that the blogosphere is dominated by MSM types. And media organizations create more and more blogs. Second, with few exceptions MSM also pick and choose who becomes a celebrity blogger and attracts large audiences. It remains true that freedom of the press is for those who own the media and/or act as gate-keepers.
    With that said, I plug my new blog at

  4. #4 Jon Garfunkel
    on Jun 30th, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    Why this is burning news, I don’t know, but I felt compelled to give this response to Jay about the story he’s missed here.