Press Credentials for Everyone! (Response to We the Media)

June 8, 2008 at 10:04 pm 1 comment

My first blog assignment is to identify what I think is the most important point in Dan Gillmor’s “We the Media” and explain why. But first, a quick word on Gillmor himself because I think it’s relevant. Gillmor spent years writing for mainstream newspapers including the Detroit Free Press and the San Jose Mercury News. More recently he founded Grassroots Media Inc., a project with the goals of “enabling grassroots journalism and expanding its reach.”

Gillmor’s personal journey echoes part of the progression of media that he describes in his book – the movement from the “big business of journalism” to grassroots journalism written for the people, by the people. I think the title of Gillmor’s book says it all: We the Media. The most important point he makes is that all the technology and innovations that fall under the umbrella term “new media” have cracked opened journalism so that, in Gillmor’s own words, “people at the edges [can] participate in the news gathering and dissemination processes.” In other words, it’s now incredibly easy for users or consumers of news to become producers of news. For example, anyone with an internet connection and a laptop can start a blog. Projects like OhmyNews, an online news service in which citizens act as reporters, epitomize the possibilities.

We the Media goes on to describe the implications of this transformation for business, newsmakers, and big media, among others. Given my role as a communications professional, I was particularly interested in Gillmor’s thoughts about how the public relations sector can harness new media to communicate smartly. He makes interesting points about how new media like chat rooms, discussion boards, blogs, RSS feeds, etc. enable pr professionals to listen and learn from their publics, create transparency, open lines of communication, solicit feedback from customers, distribute information widely, and engage in more fine-grained pitching.

One other observation – I think We the Media is particularly tough on business. Perhaps Gillmor’s years as a journalist has made him a bit cynical. The good thing is that instead of simply railing against companies for their shortcomings, Gillmor provides good examples of how business can (and must) use new media to learn from their customers and become more open and truthful. 

In short, the key point is that business, journalism, public relations, and politics can all be made better by listening to and enabling the participation of the average Joe.


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Musing #1 Rilo Kiley and We the Media

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Sherie Winston  |  June 9, 2008 at 3:39 am

    Melissa — you’re a blogging natural!


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