I’d been meaning to pick up Dan Gillmor’s “We The Media” (amazon | read online), so the copy I received for my birthday last month was much appreciated. I’ve enjoyed reading Dan’s blog for quite some time and it was good to hear his thoughts expounded in longer form.
For those who are well versed in the intersection of blogging, journalism, and politics, most of the book will have a familiar feel. The first two-thirds of the book is largely a summary of events that have led to the current state of play with grassroots media, moving deftly through phenomena and events such as indymedia, ohmynews, bloggers’ reports following September 11 2001, the Trent Lott scandal, and many others. While initially I worried that the familiar material would be too much, it was a well paced summary and is certainly likely to be an informative read for anyone who has not been quite so immersed in the development of that key part of blog culture.
Similarly, Gillmor’s summary of changes to intellectual property law–primarily in the US but with implications far beyond–is a good one. He doesn’t go into the depth that can be found in the writing of Larry Lessig, but for those wanting an overview of the extension of copyright terms, the destruction of ‘fair use’ and the emergence of Creative Commons it is a good read.
Where Gillmor is most focussed is in his attempt to map out how “the mainstream media” could begin to learn from and positively interact with grassroots media and blogging. His plea to journalists to accept that their audience is usually better informed than they are needs to be taken to heart, to encourage humility, accountability and a raising of the tone of contemporary journalism, and is well argued, as are the concerns raised about the importance of checking sources for reliability that would be well learned in both the blogging and mainstream journalism worlds (he refers numerous times to the New York Times Jasyson Blair scandal).
We The Media is not a book which should be read merely by those of us who live-and-breathe emerging media. For many who have been reading blogs for some time, it is a worthwhile read but probably not one to prioritise, but for anyone new to that world or looking for a good summary it’s well worth checking out.