From Tom Paine to Blogs and Beyond
Print publication emerged first, hence newspaper was the media which played a major role in spreading propaganda and information but as broadcasting tools came up, radio and television became the Big Media.
Thanks to technology, desktop publishing is no longer limited to the professionals because of its user-friendly nature. Also with technology, interaction and involvement of the public with the media is more prominent as readers no longer have to wait for their letters to reach the newspaper’s editor’s desk. In fact, talk radio listeners can call in to the stations and provide their input live and engage themselves in the discussion. So the public is no longer just receivers but also content producers for the media.
Then there is the development of the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) allowing the public to write and not just read from the web. With this tool of creation that forms a many-to-many influence, a new community is formed. As Gillmore sums it up, IT leads to three things: mass customization, disintermediation and media convergence.
The Read-Write Web
To have a writing tool for the web accessible to the public means a new form of journalism- grassroots journalism. There used to be one-to-many (tv, radio and books) and one-to-one (telegram and telephone) media but the many-to-many system is possible when your average layman can write and publish on the web. Thus consumers of the media have another role as producers.
Among the toolkits on the web include mail lists, weblogs, Wiki, SMS, Internet broadcasting, Peer-to-Peer and RSS. Subscribing to a mailing list enables one to retrieve specific information and usually from one or a panel of experts on a certain subject while another ideal method of resource collection would be Wiki. Although its usage is a no-no for academic work, it opens up a discussion space and allows people from different demographics to contribute or edit specific information which encourages information quality improvement thus Wiki should not be completely overlooked. Dissemination of information has gone to a whole new level with SMS, Internet broadcasting and P2P. All of these are low-cost or cost-efficient, easy and quick.
Weblogs are the closest realisation to the read-write web concept. Due to low barriers, anyone and everyone can be a journalist, as opposed to the traditional well-guarded profession of journalism.
The Gates Come Down
In chapter 3, Gillmor observed how transparent journalists have evolved to be thanks to the Internet. The mainstream media (or giant corporations)’s voice is not the only one to be heard as the average Internet-user or alternative media are standing up to challenge the former’s output. Thus privacy is almost impossible to protect because consumers demand to know what goes on behind the scenes and any form of secrecy is deemed as skeletons in the closet.
And it’s true how Gillmor illustrated when one person’s doubt is voiced towards a certain corporation, it does not take much for another ten people to back that person up- whether or not the accusation or claim is true. Rumours spread fast and even if they are not true at the end of the day, the damage has been done whether small or big.
I agree with him how journalists should embrace modern communication because the public isn’t stupid, even if some are not well-educated. Journalists should open up and have an open mind, accepting constructive criticism as much as receiving encouraging feedback. When you engage with your consumers sincerely, they’ll feel connected and would most probably play nice than not. After all, honesty is the best policy for not only journalists and it should work for the consumers too.
Newsmakers Turn the Tables
In this chapter, the field of Public Relations and its involvement in new media are primarily discussed- Gillmor pointing out the former’s insensitivity and ignorance towards the authority the new media possesses.
The practice of transparency apparently is not limited to journalists alone but PR practitioners too, as nice adjectives in press releases no longer can convince what more fool consumers. Human touch is also emphasised in this chapter as I see the growing significance of corporate blogging and the general public’s appreciation of it. Jargons and technicalities usually only appeal to experts and enthusiasts but through corporate blogging, a wider range of audience can be reached.
From the pointers he gave at the end of the chapter, what really shone was his suggestion to PR practitioners to be honest and treat customers like they are on the same par, if not be humble when you blog. Alongside, I find Robert Scoble’s tips on corporate blogging simple yet effective- even useful to journalists. His tips are very down-to-earth, genuine and mostly dynamic- ideal in today’s situation where information flows freely and is easily accessible.
Bloggers have also earned themselves the position as authoritative media, thus proving that PR practitioners should stop overlooking this group of writers, especially if they know what they’re talking about and have an established readership.