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We the Media...Chapter 6: Presentation

Introduction: This chapter of 'WTM' deals specifically with the concept of journalists joining the online conversations that are flourishing in the news realm. Gillmor also discusses both the advantages and drawbacks/disadvantages of owning a blog and being a journalist. There is also an emphasis placed on not being afraid to ask the former audience for help with reporting.

1. Oh Yeon Ho - launched OhmyNews.com, a small online Korean newspaper that viewed reader interaction as a crucial part of it.

An important quote from Oh Yeon Ho was that, "Every citizen's a reporter."

Key Concept: The general public needs to get involved with making news because they know more than the journalists. The Internet is one medium that the audience does own.

2. Tradition Media's Opportunity
Because blogging is seen as a form of open source journalism it is importabt that Big Media take advantage of blogs and try to engage the audience in thoughtful intellectual conversation.

Gillmor cited a case that occurred with The New York Times. The 'NYT' forums often contain valuable insights, but those ideas rarely reach the newsroom due to lack of attention from news staff.

If the staff is not part of these conversations then its simply the audienve interacting with one another.
In contrast...
The New York Times does sponsor a very productive discussion group called "Kristof Responds" in which Nicholas Krostof conducts talk back sessions online via message board with the readers.

Why are editors of Big Media publications are weary of blogs?
-They (editors) feel that this genre of news writing threatens to undermine what they consider core values of news writing; mainly editorial control.

Journalists that have blogs:
James Taranto - The Wall Street Journal
Sheila Lennon - The Providence Journal
Sheila's updated blog
Jim Romenesko - Poynter Institute
Tom Mangan - San Jose Mercurcy News

Many journalists that can't get blogs sponsored through their news organizations often have their own freelance blogs. An important blog lesson learned in this chapter as a journalist is to blog at your own risk. The things you post are subject to ridicule and evaluation by not only the public but by your editors who may not agree with your interpretation of the paper's ethics code.

Authority From Linking, Listening:
-Think of linking as a tool to enhance credibility of journalists as well as any individual trying to make a valid point with justified arguments. It's like having a works cited list at the click of the mouse(or just a bunch of people that agree with you).

-"Patterico", pg 120. Blogger that tipped The LA Times off to a story. Though he tipped off the LA Times about a story, that doesn't mean that they were too incompetent to see it themselves. He was doing the job the the public is supposed to do now. Becoming involved with the media and working together. His frustration and bitterness for the paper is unwarranted according to Gillmor.

Asking The Former Audience For Help:
-Reader input = Nothing New: Letters to the Editor have always been a means for response and comment from the readers.
-Ameaturs can create good news and sometimes are the only source for on the spot breaking news such as natural disasters (Hurricanes, Earthquakes). ie: 911 as well.

Final Thoughts:
Blogging is a very powerful tool that can be used to benefit Big Media as well as individual journalists. Even though a newpaper may offer a blog to a journalist, they are taking a risk in some cases. Editors are constantly threatened by the inability to control blogs and open source forums they may provide/sponsor. One of the most important parts of journalism is the need for interaction and input from the former audience. They have now become newsmakers and reporters. I wanted to end with the quote that summed up the chapter.

"Journalists aren't some exotic species, they're everyone who seeks to take new developements, put them into writing and share them with others." -Oh Yeon Ho (pg 110, Gillmor)

Comments (9)


Great presentation, Leslie!

I think that people in our class severely underestimate the knowledge of every individual. I hear the arguments and they don't add up. First it's because not everyone on the internet has a journalism degree, then it's because anyone can put anything on the web.

I just -love- the cynicism of that last argument. But, getting back to what I was saying, how do you feel about Oh Yeon Ho's statement that "every citizen's a reporter?" Do you think that that responsibility is scary in any way?

I think that we do reporting anyway, whether we want to admit it or not. Gossip is a form of reporting. Warning people about wrecks on roads and advising them to take alternate routes is a form of reporting.

So, I feel that, essentially, we are all reporters no matter what medium we use. We can say whatever we want by word of mouth, so why do people trust word of mouth over blogs?

###Kinda confusing!###

Leslie Rodriguez:

Evan thank you so much for your comment. I am glad you enjoyed the presentation and I apologize for my absence when you brough up your comment in class on Monday. I wanted to comment in response to what you had written.

I agree that some of the individuals in our class severely underestimate the knowledge of every individual. I like to think of this problem in the form of an example. If someone were to think of he/she as an expert on the topic of baseball and they blog about the topic frequently, what would their response be if someone were to discredit them?

In regard to Oh Yeon Ho's statement about every citizen being a reporter, I agree that it can be a scary thought, but if I was to have too much doubt about it then I would be just as skeptical as so many of our classmates. I also agree completely that gossip is a way of reporting. I remember when we played the telephone game in class during that presentation.

It doesn't matter if the news at the end of the line is correct or not, because sometimes this [false statements] forces people to bring out the truth and clarify, then the news is really delivered. There is never anything wrong with a little controversy in the media.

One argument that particularly bothered me was that 'most online journalists seem to be acting in the role of activists.' I feel that this was a grossly over generalized statement that stems from ignorance involving the topics at hand. What do you think?

Regarding the tennis expert example... I'd say that really depends on how our local tennis expert responds when somebody else starts pointing out corrections. If someone were to tell me of a grammatical mistake on my website, I'd just say "thank you" and correct it, and probably say something about how important editors are, and how important it is to be willing to welcome constructive criticism. If it was just a typo, I'd correct it. If someone were to disagree with the advice I give about passive verbs or gender-neutral language, then I'd be happy to start a discussion. If someone else were to tell me that I was wrong about something that I've been teaching, I'd be silly not to thank them for pointing it out and admit my mistake.

If I got defensive and started attacking the poster, then I'd undermine my own credibility.

On the other hand, if I started a blog on a subject that I knew nothing about, and started acting like an expert, then I'd probably deserve whatever disrespect I'd earn.

Just checking... you weren't talking about anyone in specific, were you? Because I was just responding to your random example.

Leslie Rodriguez:

The example was not a direct reference to anyone in particular, but I can see where you may be drawing that from. So for the sake of intellectual discussion I changed my comment to 'baseball expert.' The point I am trying to make remains the same.

I believe that it all depends on the context of the questioning. Like you said Dr.Jerz, if you were corrected on something that was truly a mistake then it would be best to thank them and take it into personal consideration. I just feel like the questioning of online journalism in our class is more like a personal attack. There is as much reason to question print journalism as well as online journalism.

I know that there are people that take the National Enquirer as gospel and never open up Time or Newsweek. But I suppose it also depends on the audience.

Good points, Leslie.

It's easier to find bad reporting online, since all you have to do is click a link. It costs more money to produce bad print journalism, and most of it disappears into the recycling bin soon after it's printed.

But just because it's online doesn't mean it's "journalism." If the same person put it on a website, and someone called it "bad journalism," is it fair to say that that one bad site should damage the reputation of all web pages?

If someone handed you a photocopied flyer, and you could tell from a glance that it was biased and inaccurate, is it "journalism"?

Leslie Rodriguez:

Dr. Jerz, this conversation is going great. Thanks for your comments.

No, I don't think its fair to discredit all web pages because one of them produced 'bad journalism' but we have to consider the philosophy that in fact one bad site can ruin the credibility of sites that are similar to it. One person, careless or just ignorant can ruin it.

I agree that just because something is printed online doesn't mean it is journalism and that is the point I was trying to drive home to some of my classmeates.

I think that if someone was to hand me a flyer, with all the specifications that you mentioned above..'inaccurate & biased' it could still be considered journalism, just not good journalism. When I think of accurate unbiased material I associate it with good journalism. The word journalism by definition does not have to do completely with credibility. On Answers.com the word Journalism has 6 separate definitions all subject to various contexts. (http://www.answers.com/journalism&r=67)

The definition that I believe would support the "flyer" example is #6 on the list. "Written material of current interest or wide popular appeal."

I suppose yellow journalism, even though it was blown up and inaccurate was still journalism. Wasn't it?

Good point, Leslie. If we don't clarify our terms, we're never sure that we're really talking to each other about the same things. Whether it's printed on a page or displayed on a screen, what people write can sometimes be fair and reliable, and other times be unfair and unreliable. It all depends on context.

Let me just say that I am regretful that I didn't put as much heart into this as Leslie Rodriguez. When Dr. Jerz asked me to just give an informal presentation, I did just that. It was nothing special. But Leslie, I must say that you went over the bar, and I absolutely learned a heck of a lot from you. I was not convinced that online journalism was necessary until your presentation. Although I will always be a "print" guy, you have definitely shown me that there are many good points to online journalism.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 19, 2005 6:10 PM.

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