We The Media

Chapter One Summary:

 In chapter one of his book, “We the Media”, Dan Gillmor reflects on the history of journalism and how it led up to the creation of on line journalism.  Gillmor focuses specifically on journalism in America and begins with the pioneers of journalism such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine and the Federalist papers, all of whom Gillmor states published their work, “with great personal risk”, but for the greater good. 

From there Gillmor introduces the next form of journalism, newspapers, and how they “provoked public opinion” for as long as they have been around, attempting to create social change. Next, Gillmor discusses the introduction of big business journalism and the pros and cons of conglomeration, which then leads to the start of on line journalism, where Gillmor himself was a pioneer. Gillmor gives a history of how on line journalism came about and states that the introduction of the internet has brought about a great resource for journalists and the everyday news consumer. In a nice tie in to his introduction, Gillmor closes the chapter with a strong image of 9/11, which he refers to as a great turning point in the history of the media.


Chapter Two Summary:

 In chapter two, Gillmor discusses the beginning of the read-and-write Web, and how he came to first use a website to write and disperse news. Gillmor makes a great statement in this chapter that resonated with me after I read it, “The news is what we make of it, in more ways than one”.  Gillmor also explains in this chapter how online journalism began, first with a simple email list to web journals to web blogs and wiki, all of which he discusses at length. Gillmor also describes how cell phones have increased the effect of the internet, especially with PDA’s and sms text messaging. Gillmor stresses the importance of the newest forms of online technology, all of what we are learning about in class, such as RSS, Feedster and Technorati.


Chapter Three Summary:

 In this chapter, Gillmor illustrates the downsides to online journalism and how the introduction of the internet has opened up news itself to anyone. Anyone and everyone can report and write about news with RSS’s and blogs, and that has in turn made it harder for news organizations to keep up. 

The internet has created what we discussed in other classes, the 24/7 news cycle, since news is happening at every second, there are now people covering it at every second. Gillmor highlights some cases such as the McDonald’s McSpotlight website situation, Johnathan Lebed and his stock tips he was subject to in chatrooms and Pepsi’s giveaway. The chapter comes to a conclusion with Gillmor stating that because of new technology and the media, everyone will have to be open to openness and eventually the media must work toward becoming more transparent.


Chapter Four Summary

 In this chapter, Gillmor begins with an example of how the dissemination of news via the internet is accessible and good for the public. For issues that anyone should be able to access, stuff the public has the right to know, the internet proves to be a good source to put the info out on, the example being The Washington Post, posting a transcript of an interview with Donald Rumsfield on Post’s website.  This is an example of being transparent. Throughout the chapter, Gillmor suggests that being open and truthful is the best way to be when it comes to news and information. He suggests that blogging is a good tool for public relations, it can be used to quell rumors if the info comes straight from the source (for celebrity bloggers) and he offers up advice for “using tomorrow’s media”.


Chapter Five Summary:


In chapter five, Gillmor talks about the internet and its affect on politics. He points out that elections can now be campaigned via the internet with candidate websites boasting their positions, and that the public’s approval can be measured via the internet. Gillmor discusses the idea of open source politics, which is people all over the world participating, and this happens via the internet.

He also talks about how it is now up to the journalist to cover specifically what they care about (within politics especially) because with the internet, everything can be discussed about a candidacy or election, and how a journalist must report what is true surrounding politics and to keep the candidates honest.


Chapter Six Summary:

 This chapter begins with a crucial point; journalists are outnumbered by news-consumers. That being so Gillmor states that it is important and that “we need to recognize, and in the best sense of the word, use their knowledge”.  Gillmor goes on to suggest the fact that journalists should be open to their readers, once again transparent, such as writing your email address at the end of an article. Gillmor points out how old school journalists and news organizations are having a tough time adjusting to new journalism, which they view as lax and not structured or elitist. But Gillmor suggests that old school journalists must realize the necessity of molding to the new era and the new 24/7 news cycle by starting their own blogs or websites.  It is also important for editors and writers to realize that the internet, due to its nature, will make them uphold an ethical standard, and that it is harder now to make mistakes, so in a way new journalism is not lax, it may be even more difficult to be a journalist nowadays.


Chapter Seven Summary:

Gillmor begins this chapter by writing about an Iraqi blogger, Zeyhad, whose every day updates on how Baghdad was faring, quickly became a go to source for information for many people. Gillmor points out how mainstream media outlets failed to tap into this resource in 2003, and probably lost some viewers/readers who went to Zeyhad’s site to get the news. Gillmor then goes on to talk about two sets of people who are involved in news, the first group who began with writing letters to the editor and are now blogging, then the second group, people who maintain blogs and other news mediums, that have a large impact on the journalism world, yet aren’t professional journalists. He gives examples of people who have become “citizen journalists” like Rex Hammond and how private meetings are subject to being blogged about. Basically, through this new medium of outputting information, via the internet, everyone is a journalist.  

Chapter Eight Summary:

In this chapter, Gillmor makes a fascinating point, that the internet has come very far from what it was ten years ago and that “we’ll all be astounded by what’s to come”. he then discusses the framework for media today, once a top-down framework where editors edited reporters work, has now transformed into a new framework, shaped by laws. These laws, Metcalfe’s law, Moore’s law and lastly, Reed’s law, all provide this new framework. The framework attempts to create a set of rules that these citizen journalists and real journalists should follow. Then Gillmor talks about RSS feeds, and Technorati, and Feedster. Gillmor ends the chapter by posing a question, whose information should we trust. It brings up the point of with anyone having access to the internet and allowing anyone to read the information they put out there, who is to know if it is true or not.


Chapter Nine Summary:

In this chapter, Gillmor discusses issues that arise when non-professional journalists take to the internet. First he discusses the issue entitled “cut and paste” which basically is what it sounds like, bloggers cut and paste pictures, words, or parts of articles are taken from one source and not all of the information transfers, which can cause it to be misleading, or straight up wrong. There are also programs like photoshop which introduces a whole new set of issues, like fabrication of photos, Gillmor talks about an instance where John Kerry was photoshopped in a picture with Jane Fonda. While the internet has been so valuable to our lives, it has also created problems like these. Gillmor also discusses people and websites that are dedicated to weeding through information and fact-checking. It is becoming essential for people to double check everything they post, to make sure information that is being dispersed is correct.

Chapter Ten Summary:

Gillmor begins this chapter by highlighting where internet journalism can bring about trouble. With Brock Meeks, who was one of the first internet journalists, he wrote about a company who turned around and slapped him with a libel suit. He did win the suit, but it made people realize that what is printed on the internet is subject to libel suits as much as it can be in print. Gillmor goes on to explain how an online journalist can be libelous, including bloggers, who he says do not have enough money to be worth suing, but can be sued all the same. Gillmor explains ways in which online journalism can be untruthful, even though it may be harder to disguise than in print.


Chapter Eleven Summary

In this chapter, Gillmor discusses how people used to believe that when the internet first came out it would provide new freedom for people, “cyber-liberties” but then he continues to say how it can threaten the freedom of the internet. Gillmor discusses how copyright laws and intellectual property and how journalists can limit it. Gillmor finishes off by discussing how file sharing DRM and the end to end principle are all causing problems for people and creating a need for tighter regulations. It is interesting how such a good thing (the internet) can have so many pitfalls and Gillmor makes it clear that it is important to realize that while the internet is supposed to be a free for all, there should be some limitations.

Chapter Twelve Summary:

In this chapter, Gillmor finishes up by explaining the true importance of the internet and the importance of this time in history. It is also important to realize that it is affecting everyone but especially journalists and people involved in the media. While we (as journalists) have to realize that we must be responsible journalists, it is also a great development for us and has opened up our world. It was interesting that he also says he has put his book online and discusses the issue of how it ties in to the pre-discussed copy right laws. Overall this book was thoroughly informative but also very interesting. I like the tone that Gillmor had with his writing, and it was incredibly interesting to learn so much about the internet and online journalism.




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