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November 17, 2005

Chapter 7 Oral Presentation

Informal Oral Presentations -- News Writing (EL 227)

Chapter 7—We the Media
The Former Audience Joins the Party

On February 14, 2004, Rex Hammock and four other small-business people went to the Old Executive Office Building in Washington to have a short discussion with President George Bush on economic issues. This session, unlike others similar to it, was closed to the press. The officials did not know, however, that Hammock was a citizen journalist. On his way back to the airport that day, he got out his laptop and wrote a long entry on his weblog. He wanted to write about his impressions rather than discuss policy. His citizen coverage became a story in its own. If there was one lesson that was obvious, it was that excluding The Media from coverage does not necessarily mean that this is the case.

There was an All Things Digital conference in California in which all of the main sessions were “off the record.” This restriction, however, did not stop a number of people from reporting on their blogs what speakers said (including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs). This obviously made official members of the press very angry.

These cases show that banning Media and stating that something is “off the record” does not mean that the people involved are not citizen journalists and will not immediately report on their blogs what they have seen and heard. The book notes, that the expression means little to large groups of people and nonprofessional journalists who aren’t educated in the nomenclature of what can be disclosed and what can’t.

One of the main criticisms of blogs is that many are “self absorbed tripe.” Gillmore describes this as being interesting only to the writer, plus some family and friends. He says though, that there is no reason to dismiss the genre. It’s interesting to think of weblogs as a “genre,” but I suppose that it’s just that. Two definitions of genre are expressing oneself in writing, and a style or class. Blogs are a way of expressing yourself, and it is in a fairly new and unique style. As Gillmore says, “Blogs can be acts of civic engagement.”

It’s no secret that professional reporters have many limitations. If there’s one thing that I have learned in EL227, it’s that. They are limited as far as the stories that they are going to report on, they are limited as far as space to write their stories, they are limited with time, and they are limited by libel. Although bloggers do have to be responsible and careful about what they write about, they do have more freedom than professional journalists. Therefore, bloggers have the ability to go further in depth than professionals.


We as Americans tend to take our rights and freedoms for granted. Because of the First Amendment, Americans can generally write blogs with few consequences. However, in countries where free speech is not a privilege what people blog about can potentially kill them. It can also cause the loss of jobs. China for example, tries to keep their most widely listened-to voices out of general circulation. A young Chinese woman who wrote under a pen name wrote descriptions of her sexual exploits. She lost her job as a columnist for a Guangdong Province newspaper. An Iranian man was jailed for his blog in 2003. Gillmore states that secrecy has become a very important part of large corporations. These corporations have a right to this secrecy, and Americans only have rights until the fringe upon the rights of someone else. Therefore, Freedom of Speech takes a back seat to their Right to Privacy.


Gillmore says that some people will want to make a living out of personal journalism. Many business models are emerging. Advertising, is obviously a model. Subscriptions are another. The “tip-jar” approach is the most popular. Another model is “nano-publishing” in which publications are devoted to one particular area. Gawker, for example, is a blog mainly concerned with NYC and the gossip in it. Gizmodo is another that is devoted to electronic gadgets.


Chris Allbritton used this approach very well. He is a former professional writer turned blogger. He basically asked his readers to send him money so that he could go to Iraq and cover the war. His trip started in 2002 in Turkey and Iraq. He came back and realized that he wanted to go back, so he launched a new site that he called Back to Iraq. Ultimately, 342 readers donated about $14, 500. In 2003, he decided that he wanted to go back again, and launched another site. He offered his advice to Gillmore. He said that a blogger has to pick a topic and stick to it. He feels that many blogs are too unfocused. The main reason that Allbritton was so successful, was because people trusted him from his previous work and were willing to take a chance on him, so they contributed. A blogger must develop a relationship with their reader. Allbritton’s relationship with his readers was clear by the comments that they left him on a daily basis while in Iraq. They told him of the news and events happening in America. I think this is really awesome.

These sections were pretty basic and not too controversial, but any comments that you might have are welcome!

Posted by CheraPupi at November 17, 2005 1:40 PM


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