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In the second half of Gillmor’s “We the Media,” he starts off by discussing specific examples of citizen journalism and the way it is changing and improving the field.He elaborates on the incredible rate of speed at which the internet medium is growing, evolving, and innovating.

After the first two chapters, Gillmor delves into the “evils” that lurk when using the internet as a communication tool. Specifically, he discusses personal and corporate misrepresentation, libel, plagiarism, doctoring of photos, and the lack of fact checking that often occurs with “citizen journalism.” Additionally, “trolling” by cyber attention-seekers and need to be wary of “spin” are focused on.

Furthermore, Gillmor discusses at length the libel, copyright, and trade marking laws and issues that surround the internet. Issues of jurisdiction and what constitutes free speech in different places are addressed. What is permissible on the internet as well as cases that have led to litigation are discussed.

Finally, Gillmor addresses at length his theories regarding the “evil regime” of Hollywood, government, and big business to limit freedom of speech, enhance their bottom lines, and ultimately seriously impede the innovation process.  Here is a link to an article on Tech Crunch that shows the timeliness of this discussion:

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/09/20/is-myspace-music-an-antitrust-lawsuit-waiting-to-happen/

Strangely, Gillmor wraps up his book with a surprisingly rosy outlook on the future of the internet and citizen journalism. Having just read the previous chapter about “The Empire Strikes Back,” I found it difficult to make the leap to his suddenly positive point of view.

While Gillmor regularly talks about the need for citizen journalism to keep marketers, spin doctors, and those evil PR people honest, he only lightly touches on the trust factor of the news media. He addresses the need for Big Media to be careful as they enter this online world because they could hurt their credibility. Specifically, he says, “This act, which I consider more a certainty than a possibility, will change the news media’s trust equation, at least for a time. Will it have long-lasting impact? Only if it happens repeatedly.” (p. 189) In an effort for full disclosure, I will admit that I am not a journalist but a marketer/pr person/communicator. So, I am sensitive to his tendencies. However, here are a couple of links to blogs that articulate the media distrust that I think is already rampant in our society:

http://www.bloggernews.net/114362

http://www.dyreportents.com/2007/08/poll-us-public-distrusts-media.html

I thought the discussion about zoning was very interesting. As Gillmor points out, it is not feasible for all publications or websites to make endless versions of their output, but perhaps they could do it where possible or makes sense for liability purposes. This is an area where I wish he would have elaborated more on potential solutions and the steps or protocols that organizations should follow in the meantime. Especially for nonprofit organizations, often all you have is your good name. A lawsuit in this arena could mean the end of your mission. While he says that “unfortunately, cyberspace doesn’t have a global First Amendment written in law, even if it exits, for the most part, in practice,” I wonder how realistic an assertion like that is. There is not a global first amendment period. Why should be expect there to be one as it applies to the internet? A discussion of more tangible solutions would be great here.

Finally, while I thought Gillmor’s argument about Hollywood, government, and big business impeding innovation and creativity certainly had merit, I would have appreciated a more balanced presentation of the argument. Rather than just offering up campaign donations and bottom line greed as the impetus for the “empire’s” protectiveness, explanations of true reasons would have made the argument more valid. As I mentioned, I do not disagree with his argument but I think it just would have carried more weight if there was a more balanced presentation of both sides.

In summary, Gillmor’s book opened by eyes to many things and excited me (and scared me a little!) about the potential of the internet and citizen journalism for the future. A little more “meat” rather than what seemed to be opinion, would have strengthened his assertions even more.

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