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Book details of 'We the Media'

Cover of We the Media
TitleWe the Media
Author(s)Dan Gillmor
ISBN0596007337
LanguageEnglish
PublishedAugust 2004
PublisherO'Reilly Media, Inc.
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Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
Lord Northcliffe noted that "[n]ews is what somebody, somewhere wants to suppress. All the rest is advertising." Somewhat more famously, A. J. Liebling wrote that "[i]n America, freedom of the press is largely reserved for those who own one." Gillmor attempts to stress, and expand, the point that the rise of the personal computer and (particularly) the Internet provides everyone with the power of the press and facilities to avoid suppression. Chapter one provides a brief history of citizen journalism, or personal media, extending back roughly 250 years and culminating with experiences following the destruction of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. Various communications tools are described in chapter two. (It probably isn't surprising that Usenet is not noted, but it is rather ironic, given the similarity to P2P [Peer-to-Peer] distribution, and the fact that RSS [Really Simple Syndication] clients are called "newsreaders.") Chapter three reiterates the idea that individuals are reporting news, but it is difficult to see a specific thread or point to the material. Newsmakers, the people normally being reported on, can also post their own stories, and chapter four also makes some suggestions for those who wish to do it effectively. "Citizen reporting" on politics is covered in chapter five. Chapter six notes some attempts by professional media to use the same tools, and also to use the material generated by citizen journalism. Chapter seven looks at early adopters and leaders in the grassroots journalism field. On the one hand, this simply provides more examples of areas already discussed. On the other hand, it seems oddly oxymoronic: if reporting and blogging is the ultimate in democracy, why does it need "leaders?" A grab bag of "emerging" technologies makes up chapter eight. Instances of misleading (or outright fraudulent) postings are examined in chapter nine. Various legal issues are discussed in chapter ten, ranging through censorship to intellectual property to domain name cybersquatting to encryption. Chapter eleven examines actions by the government and media corporations against free and personal journalism. A brief reprise of the basic idea of the value of grassroots media closes off the book in chapter twelve. The work certainly is readable, enjoyable, and informative. Part of the enjoyment comes from the anecdotal style, which does limit the analysis of the content. Not that Gillmor avoids analysis, and he usually does a reasonable job, but the historical perspective is limited (what have we learned from mailing lists and Usenet news?) and serious constraints (blogging versus Wiki versus mailing list partisans, technical limitations) on discussion receive only cursory attention. This volume examines this issue in breadth, but possibly not depth. copyright Robert M. Slade, 2005
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Book description:

Grassroots journalists are dismantling Big Media's monopoly on the news, transforming it from a lecture to a conversation. Not content to accept the news as reported, these readers-turned-reporters are publishing in real time to a worldwide audience via the Internet. The impact of their work is just beginning to be felt by professional journalists and the newsmakers they cover. In We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People, nationally known business and technology columnist Dan Gillmor tells the story of this emerging phenomenon, and sheds light on this deep shift in how we make and consume the news. We the Media is essential reading for all participants in the news cycle: * Consumers learn how they can become producers of the news. Gillmor lays out the tools of the grassroots journalist's trade, including personal Web journals (called weblogs or blogs), Internet chat groups, email, and cell phones. He also illustrates how, in this age of media consolidation and diminished reporting, to roll your own news, drawing from the array of sources available online and even over the phone. * Newsmakers politicians, business executives, celebrities get a wake-up call. The control that newsmakers enjoyed in the top-down world of Big Media is seriously undermined in the Internet Age. Gillmor shows newsmakers how to successfully play by the new rules and shift from control to engagement. * Journalists discover that the new grassroots journalism presents opportunity as well as challenge to their profession. One of the first mainstream journalists to have a blog, Gillmor says, "My readers know more than I do, and that's a good thing." In We the Media, he makes the case to his colleagues that, in the face of a plethora of Internet-fueled news vehicles, they must change or become irrelevant. At its core, We the Media is a book about people. People like Glenn Reynolds, a law professor whose blog postings on the intersection of technology and liberty garnered him enough readers and influence that he became a source for professional journalists. Or Ben Chandler, whose upset Congressional victory was fueled by contributions that came in response to ads on a handful of political blogs. Or Iraqi blogger Zayed, whose Healing Irag blog (healingiraq.blogspot.com) scooped Big Media. Or acridrabbit, who inspired an online community to become investigative reporters and discover that the dying Kaycee Nichols sad tale was a hoax. Give the people tools to make the news, We the Media asserts, and they will. Journalism in the 21st century will be fundamentally different from the Big Media that prevails today. We the Media casts light on the future of journalism, and invites us all to be part of it.

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