Chapter 1-6 Review

“Thomas Jefferson famously said that if given the choice of newspapers or government, he’d take the newspapers.”

In We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People by Dan Gillmor, he discusses the importance of journalism to society in both the past and the present as well as the ever-changing tools in the field.

In chapter one, Gillmor discusses the idea of personal journalism and the famous historians that helped spread news and their personal opinions through print. Although many of these people in history were not known as “journalists” they contributed to the idea that anyone in society could be a watchdog to the government. Ben Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette was sometimes controversial and Thomas Payne’s Common Sense got people talking and challenging soceital norms.

But not all historical journalism served this purpose, as Gillmor points out. In the era of yellow journalism, newspapers and of forms of media aimed to gain their audience’s interest rather than report the truth. William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer were two examples of yellow journalism at work.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the age of the muckrakers began to emerge. Journalists such as Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell, Jacob Riis and Upton Sinclair (amongst others) worked to uncover the scandal and corruption in society such as the conditions of city slums, treatment of patients in mental institutions and much more.

Gillmor says that there were several media revolutions in U.S. history-one of which included the improvement of the postal system. This made news delivery much more inexpensive and reliable.

In the past, newspapers dominated news media, and in the 19th century they flourished. There was however, as Gillmor points out, little concern for objectivity. In the corporate era during the 20th century, there was more of a focus of journalism as a “business” and the increase of corporatization.

With the invention of cable, broadcast journalism began to take off. Network news was expensive to produce originally, so many local news stations took charge when it came to delievering the news. The local news, however, often tried to “lure” viewers with violence and entertainment news. In the 1990s. crime was decreasing, but many stations made it seem that crime was on the increase because they put such an emphasis on crime stories.

Big newspapers also began to take over smaller newspapers , which worked well.

With the advent of Internet, news could be distributed faster than ever before and to more people. Talk radio became bigger and the idea of audience participation in radio shows helped to get more people involved and discussing the news.

In Chapter 2, Gillmor discussed blogs, which began take off in the late 1990s. HTML code and wikis (sites anyone could edit) made sites more personal.

Gillmor points out that media technology and techniques are ever-changing and that it is imoirtant to keep following the changes. For the past 150 years, there have been two types of communciation: one-to-many (which includes books, newspapers, radio and television) and one-to-one (letters, telegraph and telephone). Internet provides the opportunity for both of these for the first time.

Blogs can come in many shapes and sizes. People can have blogs to report information, share their thoughts on a subject of product, give pointers, share their interests, or much more.

In Chapter 3, Gillmor points out that blogs give subject matter importance even after the network news media has stopped talking about it. As long as people are passionate about a topic, they will discuss it in their blogs and it will continue.

More recent improvements to technology have made it even easier for the average person to be a reporter. Cameras on cell phones and more compact recording devices allow for more and more people to capture news and information at just the click of a button.

The accumulation of information in databases also makes it easier for people to combine and search for information to further their reporting resources and knowledge.

In Chapter 4, Gillmor discusses that blogging is not a threat to a corporation, it is an opportunity for businesses to get their messages and ideas out into public view more so than ever before. It can also be for image maintenance. It gives the organization a more human face that consumers can relate to. This openness can make the company and the people involved appear more trustworthy due to the open forum they are creating, leaving room for feedback and criticism.

In this chapter, Gillmor also takes time to criticize modern PR and their poor use of the Internet.

In chapter 5, Gillmor discusses how the use of internet and blogging effected the presidential election cycle of 2002-2004. Because there was constant access to developing information and sharing of opinions on such a high level across the global spectrum. Although this form of media was prevalent during this time period, this was not the beginning of its use in the political arena. Such methods, such as bulletins, were used in the 1980’s by the radical right wing in order to spread its message.

Chapter 6 mentions that more and more journalism is being controlled by the audience. The professional journalist will always be necessary because fact-gathering and following ethical guidelines are necessary. Professional journalists set standards of journalism that can only be obtained through practice and training. While average people can participate in reporting, the methods and standards are different. Gillmor added that reading responses on his blog has helped him to become better at his job.

One Response

  1. Nicely done! Let’s figure out how to fix your blog!

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