The Web Guru

“On the growing role of editors and reporters, I think directionally he’s right but he may take it farther than I would take it,” said Mr. Murray, the Journal editor.

“I respect Jeff’s thinking, but I don’t mean to say for a second I agree with it all,” said Jim Willse, the editor of the Star-Ledger whose newsroom is getting a 40 percent cut. He has worked with Mr. Jarvis off and on for the last three decades. “He’s not given to understatement. I think he and I part company on a number of points that he makes. One of them is the reliance on whatever the phrase of the moment is—citizen journalism or pro-am journalism—and I think that in his enthusiasm for a new newsroom model he undervalues the worth of good old-fashioned reporting.”

“For someone like me who is living the life of newspaper editor in difficult times, Jeff is a very valuable source of ideas because he’s lived the life of mainstream media as a magazine editor, columnist and an entrepreneur,” said Mr. Willse. “He’s not just sitting in the bleachers bloviating about media transforming. He’s got a good grounding in the economics of it.”

“Over the years he and I have edged somewhat closer,” wrote Mr. Keller, the Times editor, in an email. “Not to put words in Jeff’s mouth, but he now, I think, acknowledges the utility of professional judgment, skills and standards in helping an audience navigate the new information world, and the advantages of having stable institutions to pay for such things as a Baghdad bureau and to protect First Amendment rights in court. In turn, I’ve embraced the value of the audience as a participant in gathering, truth-squadding and appraising information.”

“That is bullshit,” Mr. Jarvis said when we told him what Mr. Keller had said. But, it seemed, he was directing the charge at us. “That is journalistic cliché. That’s what every story tries to do: create a conflict. That conflict doesn’t exist. We’re all trying to figure what to do about it, and we all should have different answers and experiment with those answers. To say it’s traditional against something else is bullshit. And you can quote me on that. That’s dangerous.

“I’ve been forced into this blogger-versus-MSM thing for a while and I refuse to play the game anymore. I don’t give a damn if Bill Keller is closer to me or I’m closer to him. The question is: What are we all doing to advance this? I am delighted to see The New York Times advance in many, many ways. I think they’re brilliant.”

jkoblin@observer.com