Giving Good Advice: live at ISOJ in Austin, TX

Reflections of an academic on 25 years of advising journalists and media companies.
#ISOJ | Stream | | 9AM 04/05/2014
Keynote presentation by Jay Rosen, NYU


Speech to Associated Press Managing Editors Des Moines Iowa, 1989.#

Adviser to Knight-Ridder Inc. and some of its newspaper editors, 1990-92.#

Collaboration with Davis Merritt, Jr. editor of the Wichita Eagle, 1991 to 1999#

Consultant to the Virginian Pilot newsroom culture change effort, 1992 to 1996#

Adviser to the American Society of Newspaper Editors “change committee,” 1995-96.#

“The metro daily is close to losing its ‘essential’ status in the community.”#

Participant in Salon’s Table Talk, a comment thread community, advising Salon editors, 1996-97.#

“Hey, the people in your comment section are really smart. Try hooking them up with your reporters.”#

Collaboration with Evan Hansen and Assignment Zero, 2006-07.#

Collaboration with Arianna Huffington and Amanda Michel: OfftheBus, 2008#

Collaboration with Jim Schachter, Mary Ann Giordano, metro desk of the New York Times: The Local East Village. 2009-11#

Consulting and site visit with KETC, public radio in St. Louis, 2010.#

“If you’re trying to change the conversation around immigration start with how the news implicitly frames it now."#

Consultant to Huffington Post Investigative Fund, 2009#

Collaboration with Michelle McLennan, Patterson Foundation on Block by Block, 2010-12#

Collaboration with ProPublica and Studio 20: building a better explainer, 2011. #

Member, Digital advisory board, Digital First Media in the US, 2011 to present#

Consultant, Post Media Network of Canada, 2012 to present#

Board of Directors, The Gazette Company, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2012 to present#

Adviser, First Look Media, 2013 to present#

Unrequested. A big portion of what I do is like an "advisory" to the press that no one in the press specifically requested. #

PressThink, my blog, is an unrequested advice column where I can say to journalists: "Wait: let's think this through..."#

@jayrosen_nyu, my Twitter feed, is daily advice on what to sit and puzzle with if you're tracking developments in online journalism#

Collegial. Sometimes I work with journalists as we try to give shape to something a little different. Here, advice flows both ways. #

Requested, not specifically paid. Part of the job of a journalism professor is to provide advice when I am asked. #

Helping as a source for a reporter with an assignment. #

Someone asks you on Twitter, “what would be your advice?”#

Advising NYU students on careers and building their intellectual capital#

Start-ups reach out all the time with requests for advice.#

Semi-compensated. Expenses (and sometimes an honorarium) are paid.#

A foundation, university, or company wants the advice to happen.#

Paid and requested. Expenses and market compensation are paid; there is a contract with a company to provide advice.#

Consultant to Post Media Network in Canada.#

Member of the digital advisory board, Digital First Media#

Board of directors, Gazette Company, Cedar Rapids, Iowa#

Adviser to Pierre Omidyar's start-up, First Look Media#

For more see the tab "advice situations: 1989-2014"#

"Our connection to the community is fraying. But my newsroom says: we're not community organizers, we're journalists!" 1990-98.#

"I go out and give my best journalism speech to the key civic groups in this town and they don't believe a word of it any more." 1993-95#

"We would love to have more participation by 'regular people' in our journalism. How do we do that and maintain credibility?" 1992 to the present#

"We want to change our role in the community. But it's not what we have traditionally done. How do we break out?" 1990 to present.#

"Practically speaking, what can the people formerly known as the audience contribute to a quality news product?" 2008 to the present#

"We're having trouble adapting to what digital is doing. We have ideas for changing that. Do you have any better ones?" 2008 to present#

"You're watching newsrooms and companies try to adapt. To what — to whom — should we be paying more attention?" 2010 to present#

"We're running out of time. We have to become a digital first news engine with a print product. Can you help us explain it?" 2010 to 2013#

"We're starting over: a new company. We think there's a different way to do news. But is it different enough?" 2010 to present#

J-schools allowed the teaching of practice and the making of academic knowledge by PhDs to evolve away from one another. Bad decision.#

Advising press companies and working with journalists on innovation projects helps me overcome that unfortunate split.#

Problems of practice in the newsrooms of the world and problems that get journalism scholars and PhDs all excited should be the same set.#

Philosophically, I am a pragmatist. Pragmatists believe our knowledge advances when we try to improve things. Invariably we run into problems.#

When news organizations try to improve things, they invariably run into problems. As their adviser, I go to school on that— and figure out how to help.#

My most useful advice often involves re-describing their predicament using different terms— what I would call better pressthink.#

'Unrequested advice' sounds like a joke category. It's not. Without my independent platform,, no one would want my advice.#

The maximum that "advice" should take up is one day a week or twenty percent time. Ten percent is safer. The danger: making their problems yours.#

It's hard to talk publicly about the journalism when you are a paid adviser to it. And the "can't talk about it" zone has subtle ways of spreading.#

In making these notes I discovered that 'giving advice' is a surprisingly emotional — and extremely personal — subject for me.#

As my students know, I am on leave this semester. One thing I am working on is a performance piece. It's PressThink with a live audience.#

You're a live audience, #ISOJ. This is the first reading of a small part 0f the script. As you will hear, it is all about giving advice.#

To read the script and more about the PressThink Live project, go here:

Last update: Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 2:33 PM.
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