The press was never king, but today it has even less of that whole sovereignty thing

Some 18 months ago, Jay Rosen — famous, or notorious, for describing journalism as a religion, with its own rites and acts of faith — sought to end the are-bloggers-also-journalists debate. (Obviously, and as he has himself noted, without too much success.) He wrote then:

The question now isn’t whether blogs can be journalism. They can be, sometimes. It isn’t whether bloggers "are" journalists. They apparently are, sometimes. We have to ask different questions now because events have moved the story forward. By "events" I mean things on the surface we can see, like the tsunami story, and things underneath that we have yet to discern.

To be sure, his frame of mind, or his point of departure, is still journalism-oriented. (He is, after all, a journalism professor.) But in spite of the language he uses, there is no mistaking the seachange in the journalism profession that is there for anyone to see.

If my terms make sense, and professional journalism has entered a period of declining sovereignty in news, politics and the provision of facts to public debate, this does not have to mean declining influence or reputation. It does not mean that prospects for the public service press are suddenly dim. It does, however, mean that the old political contract between news providers and news consumers will give way to something different, founded on what Curley correctly called a new "balance of power."


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