November 13, 2005

Newswriting - We the Media, Intro, 1, & 2


" was being produced by regular people who had something to say and show, and not solely by the "official" new organizations that had traditionally decided how the first draft of history would look" (X)

We are introduced by certain shots heard around the world in this introductory section of the book. Since we all hear the shots, [ examples: 9/11, the death of President Kennedy, FDR's death], we are all able to say things about them. However, the latter two examples happened in a time when news was trickled down from more official sites, such as networks and newspapers. In our wired world, we are about to snap on a computer, sit down, and write our own version of the news. Not only are we consumer and readers, but we are also becoming reporter-like in the essence that we can pitch our own ideas into articles.

Chapter 1:

"...muckrakers performed the public service function of journalism by exposing a variety of outrages, including the anticompetitive predations of the robber barons and cruel conditions in the workplace..." (3).

At this point, Gillmor reminds the reader of some of those muckrakers, such as Ida Tarbell and Upton Sinclair. It is interesting to think that the media functions to expose bad practices in oil and poor conditions in meat packing companies. At this time, cities were beginning to develop and overflow because that was where jobs were. It is important to understand the historical and cultural contexts of situations before we, as journalists, cook companies. Of course, there were problems in the Chicago meat packing industry, as there were problems with Standard Oil, but careful investigation must proceed attack.

This chapter was also interesting because it showed the progression of radio and television as facets for the news. It illustrated the talking heads on the radio - from far right to far left, and also the advice that came from everyone that got to be on the radio: doctors, lawyers, etc. If you turn on XM radio, today, there are entire channels devoted to these talking people. However, people enjoy tuning in and getting advice from these faceless sources.

Chapter 2:

"The tools of grassroots journalism run the gamut from the simplest email list, in which everyone on the list receives copies of all messages; to weblogs, journals written in reverse chronological order; to sophisticated content management systems used for publishing content to the Web; and to syndication tools that allow anyone to subscribe to anyone else's content. The tools also include handheld devices such as camera equiped mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). What they have in common is a reliance on the contributions of individuals to a larger whole, rising from the bottom up" (26).

This is the only part of the text where I felt a strong reaction, and this is only because I do not want to be that wired to the world. This also semi-kills any sense of privacy we may have. I don't want anyone to be wired into my thoughts, because it is very personal. This is why I try usually to write objective weblogs, rather than ones that are super slanted. I would much rather give a summary of the text, than my personal reaction - because that is exactly what it is, personal. If one really wants to know what another thinks, ask the other. Finding one's website and reading one's thoughts, seems to me, to be impersonal and borderline probing. We the Media even called one blog slanted to the right. We are urged to stay objective, so why fiddle with people who are not trained journalists? Of course, it is nice to have a vast array of perspectives from the pockets of the world, but I would rather get my news from the paper (even though those can be slanted, and sometimes not 100% accurate, too).

Posted by KatieAikins at November 13, 2005 10:33 AM

Good points, Katie. I do think that the younger generations are less and less likely to have that kind of gut-level reaction to having a public identity. The "reality TV" shows are hugely popular. Of course there are parts of my life I don't put on my blog, and I know many students have personal blogs that they isolate from the internet at large, but the world is being affected by people who do choose to live alrge portions of their lives online, and that changes the way things used to be. In some ways, some of the things that bloggers do are very similar to things that a journalist does, and since Gillmor spent decades as a traditional journalist, he's of course going to focus on how blogs extend and challenge journalism.

But a blogger certainly doesn't have to be neutral, because blogs can be used for many other things besides journalism, just as paper and ink can be put together to do lots of different things besides reporting the news. A blogger who voices an opinion should expect that people who have different opinions may want to respond, and that some of those reponses will be intelligent and respectful, and others will be frothing rants.

Of course, if the blogger starts with a frothing rant in the first place, that's going to send a signal to the intelligent conversationalists that they should spend their time elsewhere.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at November 13, 2005 1:25 PM

Blogging has really helped me see what I'm doing wrong as well as have a sense of humor. I think it gives journalist an opportunity to see that the way in which they portray things can have a serious effect on people and makes them perhaps try harder.

Posted by: Erin at November 14, 2005 12:42 AM