In We the Media Gillmor does a good job of demonstrating that he has embraced new technology and used it to enhance his work as a journalist. I find, however, that a lot of the topics in the book fail to strike me as significant. I’m in my early 20s; I grew up with the internet. I started taking computer courses in elementary school and now I receive invites to Facebook groups such as “One million strong for Barack Obama.” The fact that a presidential candidate would use the internet as a major tool in his campaign isn’t new information to me.
Gillmor champions grassroots journalism and the technology that makes it possible, however, he also takes a drastically different stance at times, diminishes the importance of certain of expressions, even declaring them potentially harmful. In chapter 3 he includes an entry he made on a media watchdog sight. Speaking of watchdog websites, or “Truth Squads,” he says, “if the idea is to make journalism better, I’m just not convinced this will work” (63). At another point, in chapter 5, while discussing Howard Dean’s campaign for presidency and the comments posted by ordinary people Gillmor says, “it’s one thing to be told of a mistake, but another to be harangued by followers of a cause, however well-meaning, who end up harming their own movement” (98).
He is quick to point out the problems associated with the media and point out shortcomings yet he doesn’t seem receptive to criticism he has received from concerned non-professionals. Obviously, some of the problems which pervade broadcast media, such as bias or fanaticism, also afflict many grassroots movements. The people in power who influence what the media produces have an agenda, just like any individuals leading a grassroots movement. If Gillmor really believes in grassroots journalism, and hearing the true voice of the people, he shouldn’t be so quick to discount tactics that he judges as inept.