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July 22, 2004

"We the Media": The Dismantling of Big Media's Monopoly on the News

Sebastopol, CA--For the first time, bloggers have been awarded press credentials to cover the national political conventions. That's a harbinger of bigger changes in the media landscape, according to nationally known columnist Dan Gillmor. His new book, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People, tells the story of the grassroots journalists--including bloggers--who are dismantling Big Media's monopoly on the news. Through Internet-fueled, interactive vehicles like weblogs, these readers-turned-reporters are transforming the news from a lecture to a conversation. They're publishing in real time to a worldwide audience that's eager to read their independent, unfiltered reports. And the impact of their work is just beginning to be felt by professional journalists and the newsmakers they cover. We the Media sheds light on this deep shift in how we make--and consume--the news.

We the Media is essential reading for all participants in the news cycle:

  • Consumers learn how they can become producers of the news. Gillmor lays out the tools of the grassroots journalist's trade, including personal web journals (called weblogs or blogs), Internet chat groups, email, and cell phones. He also illustrates how, in this age of media consolidation and diminished reporting, to "roll your own" news, drawing from the array of sources available online and even over the phone.

  • Newsmakers--politicians, business executives, celebrities--get a wake-up call. The control that newsmakers enjoyed in the top-down world of Big Media is seriously undermined in the Internet Age. Gillmor shows newsmakers how to successfully play by the new rules and shift from "control" to "engagement."

  • Journalists discover that the new grassroots journalism presents opportunity as well as challenge to their profession. One of the first mainstream journalists to have a blog, Gillmor says, "My readers know more than I do, and that's a good thing." In We the Media, he makes the case to his colleagues that, in the face of a plethora of Internet-fueled news vehicles, they must change or become irrelevant.
  • At its core, We the Media is a book about people. People like Glenn Reynolds, a law professor whose blog postings on the intersection of technology and liberty garnered him enough readers and influence that he became a source for professional journalists. Or Ben Chandler, whose upset Congressional victory was fueled by contributions that came in response to ads on a handful of political blogs. Or Iraqi blogger Zayed, whose Healing Irag blog (healingiraq.blogspot.com) scooped Big Media. Or "acridrabbit," who inspired an online community to become investigative reporters and discover that the dying Kaycee Nichols' sad tale was a hoax. Give the people tools to make the news, We the Media asserts, and they will.

    Journalism in the 21st century will be fundamentally different from the Big Media that prevails today. We the Media casts light on the future of journalism, and invites us all to be part of it.

    Additional Resources:

    We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People
    Dan Gillmor
    ISBN: 0-596-00733-7, 320 pages, $24.95 US, $36.95 CA
    order@oreilly.com
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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