October 1st, 2008

Niche Journalism ("We the Media 3 & 5)

In "We the Media," Dan Gillmor wrote, "The issues of our times are too complex, too nuanced, for the major media to cover properly, given the economic realities of modern corporate journalism" (103).
With 40 pages of reading behind me, that was the line that jumped out at me.
Because it's so true.
We are living in a time when bloggers are exposing politicians, big businesses and even regular individuals for wrongdoings or unethical behavior. They are even analyzing Big Media for mistakes and bias.
Bloggers are of course only one aspect of the idea of personal journalism, but they are a big chunk of it.
The reason Gillmor's above statement had such an impact on me is that I often feel lost when reading breaking stories. For instance, the current issues with the economy and the (as of right now) denial of a $700 billion bailout make sense to me in a general regard, but I don't really understand the entire issue because there isn't room in a news story or a brief broadcast for all the nuances and background information that provide necessary context.
While keeping up with the news is important, especially since I want to be a journalist, it can be extremely difficult because when I don't understand a major issue, I sometimes tune out instead of researching information.
As a result, the topic-specific blogs that are emerging, what Gillmor calls niche journalism, are fantastic. While I certainly need to spend time finding these blogs and seeing which ones are reliable, the concept in and of itself is an improvement on traditional journalism. Particularly during an election year in the country and in the state, it is important to feel competent in a number of issues in order to have a reliable base on which to base your vote on.
Niche journalism can help create a more informed public. The major problem that I see, however, is that the public has to want to be informed, want to search for that information, if the concept is going to effective.
Otherwise, it's just more words and information added to a world already suffering from sensory/information overload.
  • noidion

We the Media Ch. 3 and 5

Dan Gillmor’s We the Media offers interesting perspectives on the way technology is shaping the way both professional journalists and amateurs get information out. He talks about the ways information can be spread across the world at a very rapid pace. This can help citizens from being caught into a cycle where big business and big government can hold them down.
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Links to politicians websites

Chapters 3 & 5

We are currently living in an era where consumers are producers of their own blogs, videos, and news. The emergence of the Internet has allowed each and every one of us to comment on and provide feedback to almost anything in the world through blog posts or vlogs, which are becoming more popular with the inception of YouTube. People can post blogs about matters that concern them, and update their content several times a day (example: Arianna Huffington, huffingtonpost.com). Others can post blogs about things that interest them and their small group of loyal readers, such as blogs about celebrity gossip (Perezhilton.com). Still, others just write blogs for the sake of writing them, and only choose to have them read by a select few people. The point is that the Internet has been used as a tool for freedom of speech in the U.S. and we are not only using it to comment on politics, celebrities, world affairs, businesses, environment, economy etc., but we are using it as a tool for fact-checking and accuracy. The most interesting thing I read in Chapters 3 and 5 was how the Internet has affected the craft of journalism. In my opinion, journalists are being held to a higher standard of ethical behavior, especially since ordinary citizens can fact-check and find inconsistencies in reporters' published stories whenever they want. For reporters, this may sometimes be a nuisance, to have everybody and anybody willing and able to comment on stories. However, opening up the dialogue between citizens, media and government is essential in this day and age. This also causes editors to be more vigilant of reporters. In my opinion, they have to be vigilant otherwise they run the risk of an average Joe finding inconsistencies or erroneous facts in reporter’s stories, and thus ruining the reputation of their respective publications. Journalists aren’t the only ones who have to worry about being criticized by the public. Politicians are in the public eye 24/7 now (especially during this election).  Since each of us have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips through the Internet, it is easy to find hypocritical statements in politicians speeches because we can compare them with past public speeches. For example, when Hillary Clinton recalled last year that she had to “duck under sniper fire” during her life-threatening trip to Bosnia in 1992, reporters soon found that her statements were completely untrue. In fact, they played clips of her speech and the actual footage from Bosnia back to back in an ABC newscast that proved that she landed safely, never once was in danger, and was even having a good time singing songs with some of the soldiers. This had to be a major embarrassment for her and her campaign, especially since that clip is on YouTube for everyone to see again and again and again. Open source politics is even more prevalent today, too. Gillmor was right in saying that “net savvy campaigning will be the rule by 2008.” One can easily see this is true by looking at the web sites of both presidential candidates. They have tons of information about issues, voting, vice presidents, and they also have an area for donating money online. One can also view every speech they’ve made in their entire campaign in video. Obama has even gone a step further, by sending personal e-mails (well, at least they seem personal when they have your name at the top), to supporters about issues and upcoming events. It is evident that we are living in a world where voyeurism and being connected 24/7 is the norm, and we can either adjust or fall into the abyss.

Transformation of journalism with technology

“We the Media,” Dan Gilmor discusses the role of newsmakers, not just journalists, and how the role and rules of making news have transformed entirely. With new media, including but not limited to blogs, vlogs and other online forums we have accelerated the now 24-hour industry and changed our documentation of history.   

Gilmor notes how our perception and memory of the events of 9/11 would be different if we camera phones were around then.  Our memories would be different if we had received images and videos from our loved ones via cell phone.  

Technology changes everything.  We see how popular blogs have become, giving everyone a chance to voice their opinion in these public forums.   

But can we trust what we read?  There is not a fine line between citizen journalists and the major ones.  Anything and everything is online, and there really isn’t anyone filtering. 

This is especially an issue with politics and the upcoming election.  Should you believe what you read online?

There has been quite an advantage for political involvement though.  The Internet allows everyone to be involved and their opinion matters.  We see campaign blogs, receive text messages with news and are constantly informed on what is going on and the opinions of everyone else.  

Technology has in fact made all things transparent, especially in politics.  Sarah Palin’s personal email account was recently hacked into revealing personal and government related emails sent out.  Privacy no longer exists within the World Wide Web, anything can be seen by anyone, and once it’s out there, there is no taking it back

Our world has transformed, technology continues to evolve, so will the journalism industry.  

  • sams21

Calling the Kettle Black

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.