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Big Media in the Blogosphere, Part 2: Jeff Jarvis

     Jeff Jarvis of Advance Publications, the Newhouse empire, was the other corporate media biggie at BloggerCon, making rather a striking contrast with the gentleman from The New York Times, Len Apcar.   At BuzzMachine, of course, Jeff Jarvis is himself a voluminous and often counterintiutive blogger.  He’s a liberal who was radicalized by September 11 and cheered the War in Iraq.  He’s had a newspaper career in San Francisco and Chicago.  He wrote TV criticism for People magazine and TV Guide, and was the founding editor of Entertainment Weekly.  In his online eminence within for the last nine years, he has become an unbuttoned zealot about the Internet (“the first medium that’s owned by its audience”) and about blogging (“the highest form thus far of audience content”).  In conversation Jarvis is a mantra man, at a machine-gun clip, about the erosion of the “mass” in media, the “nichification” of America.  “At Advance Internet,” he said to me, “the most popular forums were the obscure things like high school wrestling.  Why?  Because they weren’t getting the attention and the ink in the paper.  Here was a place where people could come and give themselves the attention they deserved.”  He echoes Dave Winer’s view that voters may need blogs more than politicians do.  Jeff Jarvis put it this way: “I’m not sure what’s more important–for the big institutions (whether that’s a newspaper or a presidential candidate) to blog… or to read blogs…  The Internet gives a chance to make the audience shine, make the audience the star.  The first job is to point to them.”  The real opportunity for newspapers, he suggested, could be to enable, coach and sponsor bloggers.  “It’s an entirely new relationship with your readers.  The readers are your writers now, and that’s a great new thing.”  Blogs will have a revolutionary effect on American media–which may be as nothing, he added, compared to the power that 20,000 Iranian bloggers are demonstrating to shake a whole society.  Jeff Jarvis was of the hearty party at BloggerCon that frets that blogging, for all the hype, hasn’t been hyped enough.  Listen here.


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    “The real opportunity for newspapers, he suggested, could be to enable, coach and sponsor bloggers.”

    Actually, the real opportunity is for his own company to stop using its utterly crappy system to host its affiliated newspapers’ content (including that of The Oregonian out here in Portland) online. It’s noisy, messy, user unfriendly, and finding things can be a royal pain.

    For someone who himself blogs, Jarvis puts newspaper content on the Web in one of the worst ways imaginable.

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    “Blogs will have a revolutionary effect on American media–which may be as nothing, he added, compared to the power that 20,000 Iranian bloggers are demonstrating to shake a whole society. ”

    Let’s hope those Iranian bloggers can turn the tide toward a more democratic and free society. The mere fact that they have internet access is a positive sign.

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