We the Media – Journalism in the age of technology

For my mobile and social media journalism class, one of our assigned readings was Dan Gillmor‘s book, We the Media. It discusses how advances in technology, specifically the Internet and mobile devices, are changing not only what journalism is but who journalists are. Civilians have unprecedented access to create, curate, and publish content, and these products are giving “Big Media” a run for its money: what they lack in professional training they make up for in their ubiquity.

Three things I’d like to point out as favorites from the book:

  • The full text is available online at O’Reilly. This is awesome not only for college kids strapped for cash but also as a reflection of the changes in the media industry. Gillmor discuses in chapter 12 that part of why he made his book available for free online is because he wants to see what people will do with it. He wants people to “expand the conversation,” much like news outlets today expanding their interactive components such as comments, blogs, and citizen journalism.
  • The book already shows how much the industry has changed. It was written in 2005, a time in which even camera phones were a lofty thought and texting was still in its infancy. Nine years later, both are not only ubiquitous but also integral to the journalism process. In many ways, Gillmor predicted the rise of some of these developments, the cell phone camera included.
  • Gillmor tackles the issue of the dark side of journalism’s evolution in technology. From chapter 9: “Technology has given us a world in which almost anyone can publish a credible-looking web page. Anyone with a computer or cell phone can post in online forums. Anyone with a moderate amount of skill with Photoshop or other photo-manipulation software can distort reality. Special effects make even videos untrustworthy. We have a problem here.” The advances in technology are wonderful, but they’re not without “manipulators, con-artists, gossips, and jokesters of all varieties,” including the infamous troll.

Final advantage of the tech boost: we may be able to talk with Gillmor in class.


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