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The Essential Blogging chapter by Cory Doctorow et al was fairly straight forward and provided a solid foundation for setting up our own blogs this week. I especially appreciated the examples included in the chapter as well as the links to other types of blogs. However, I found their definition of “blog” left much to be desired. I went on a search of my own and found this definition to be more helpful and provide additional context:

I am not usually a big fan of Wikipedia for accurate information, but compared to Merriam-Webster, webopedia, and a few more, the Wikipedia definition was most helpful to me.

The first six chapters of Dan Gillmor’s “We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People” (2006) comprised the majority of our reading for this week. The readings provided an interesting history of the evolution of online journalism and the roles that the average citizen and professional journalists have played, currently play, and could potentially play in the process. Gillmor believes that the internet will transform journalism for the better due to the speed with which information is shared and the different perspectives that are being brought to the table.

Gillmor elaborates about how the internet has allowed the average citizen to become a journalist (using this term loosely) by publishing information at will. From Gillmor’s point of view, this has been a tremendous shift of power from the Big Media to the citizen journalists. I definitely agree with this assertion and I am grateful for it!

According to Gillmor, one of the primary benefits of this citizen journalism is that it is forcing the Big Media to be more honest or at least transparent. It is further discussed that this transparency is crucial for most all corporations and organizations. Gillmor also suggests that all organizations should have a blog and respond to all questions that are posed in the forum. I wonder if many companies or organizations who are adhering to this practice have hired people to do this. I would imagine it is very time-consuming.

There is also substantial information regarding the antiquity of the traditional newspaper business and commentary about how the newspaper business needs to embrace the online opportunities in order to stay afloat.

I can definitely see the benefits to citizen or grassroots journalism as Gillmor outlines them. From the citizen perspective, the benefits are clear. However, I am left wondering a bit more when it comes to the perspective of the Big Media, specifically newspapers. It appears to me that Gillmor has a lot to say about the need for newspapers to embrace online technology but has little to say in the way of concrete suggestions regarding doing just that.

Gillmor suggests that newspaper columnists need to all be writing, maintaining, and responding to blogs at all times. The benefits to the reporter include uncovering stories, being more in touch with their audience, and fact checking. According to Gillmor, the readers always know more than the journalist. As newspapers are struggling to make ends meat and lay off staff left and right, I wonder how the remaining reporters have the time to do additional duties (including online engagement).

It is addressed in the reading that Big Media does provide a substantial service to the public and that it is in all of our best interests for it to survive. But, in my opinion, Gillmor falls short in offering ideas allowing for the uninhibited success of online citizen journalism as well as Big Media.


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