We the Media

Chapter one focuses on the journey journalism has taken throughout the years. It chronicles the rise of the practice of journalism, from the first newspapers all the way until the establishment of the Internet. Gillmor touches on great moments in journalism, such as the height of investigative journalism with the muckrakers, and also some of its low moments; the establishment of large news corporations that focus too much on money. The end of the chapter focuses on the beginnings of the Internet, which the result of the chapters will mainly focus on.


Chapter two emphasizes the interconnectivity between the public and news sources now available via the Internet. Gillmor chronicles the evolution of the Internet and how new features allow the public to do more than simply read a news story. Audio, images and links are only a click a way and enable people to retrieve more information than ever before. Also, the story no longer has to begin with the journalist. The Internet allowed the public to write their reactions, thoughts and ideas down and publish them in a forum for all to see and read through blogs. The conversation was no longer one sided.


In chapter three Gillmor illustrates the profound impact that the Internet can have on the spread of information, and it just doesn’t originate with journalists. Bloggers who perpetuated the discussion of racist remarks made by Trent Lott ultimately resulted in his resignation. Mainstream media had basically bypassed the story; it was the public’s reaction that led to change. Gillmor then discusses how news stories have developed into a conversation, however, this isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate the accurate corrections made by bloggers from those who are pushing their own opinions. But, it is something that will be dealt with in the future.


Chapter four talks about the transparency the Internet has recently provided. Full transcripts of interviews are now sometimes fully posted online for any curious viewer, or to put a story into a better context for the reader. This practice enforces quality journalism and routes out those with an agenda. Gillmor also talks about CEOs of companies who have taken to writing about company decisions on blogs. It brings a human side to industries and also allows those who are interested to gain some insight into the decisions that are made behind closed doors. All in all, the Internet allows for a more informed public and a flow of information.


Chapter five discusses that impact the Internet was beginning to have on political campaigns. In 2004 Ben Chandler managed to raise $80,000 in donations after he advertised on blogs through the use of a private ad campaign, BlogAds. Also, blogs enable people to spread the word about their particular candidate of interest, even if he/she is not a major candidate. This helps candidates who receive only minimal exposure in the major media outlets gain a broader spectrum of supporters.


Gillmor explains in chapter six that the Internet was the first opportunity for the audience to join the conversation with the journalists, and a lot of good information has been gleaned this way. Yet, a lot of major news organizations continue to ignore the posts that are on their Websites. Still, even with all of these changes journalists must stay true to the core values of journalism. They must maintain their ethics and as a result the audience will continue to be accurately informed and the exchange of information will remain profitable.


Chapter seven discusses the transparency effect has on the news we receive. The government especially has been stringent on when the press may be allowed in to report on an event or discussion. What members of the government do not realize is that anyone today has the opportunity to practice community journalism through the use of blogs. Information that had at one time been privileged or off the record can now be disseminated to people across the world.


Chapter eight talks about the next steps the practice of online journalism will take, and they will be astounding to us. Gillmor discusses three laws: Moore’s law, Metcalfe’s law and Reed’s law. Moore’s law states that within two years the density of transistors on a chip will double. The Internet will continue to grow at an exponential pace and the possibilities are limitless. Metcalfe’s law basically states that with the continual increase of Internet users the larger the conversation will become between these users. New ideas will be developed and new ways to communicate will arise. Finally Reed’s law states that Internet allows greater interconnectivity than any other communication devise we have to date.


Chapter nine warns people about the distortion of the news and truth as a result of the increase of blogs and Web sites. Bloggers have no code of ethics that they follow, unlike journalists. Many times the information that is published on the Internet is not factual, could possibly be biased or purposely misleading. Bloggers do not have to fear the repercussions of misleading their audience as a journalist does. There needs to be better tools developed that help the user discern the credible Web sites from the non-credible.


Chapter 10 explains to the reader that even though you are practicing online journalism, perhaps in the form of a blog, you can still be sued for libel. However, it is difficult at the moment to prove libel because many people aren’t doing their own reporting, they’re just commenting on someone else’s work. Also, they’re writing about public figures, and it is very difficult to prove a libel case about them. However, trying a libel case seems to be almost impossible because there’s no real jurisdiction for them. The libel occurs on the Internet so it cannot be easily proven which state the person who made the remarks resides in.


Chapter 11 explains that the Internet is not as unregulated as one might have originally thought it to be. Gillmor discusses cases in other countries where things that are published on the Internet are censored because they might contradict the country’s ideals. Or the country blocks out information that they do not want the public to get a hold of. Also, big business is attempting to restrain the ever expanding Internet because it is beginning to cut in on their bottom line. Something needs to be done before big business encroaches on our First Amendment right anymore.


During the book’s final chapter, Gillmor discusses the ways in which the Internet should be expanded. He also discusses the issue of copyright law and how it should be altered for the continual exchange of information. He believes that things should be copyrighted, but not so in a way where it limits the amount of information one will receive.




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