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Media Books

We the Media 100

The Importance of writes "Tech columnist (for the San Jose Mercury News) Dan Gillmor is a journalist who gets it. You may not always agree with every detail of his reporting, but he clearly has a deep understanding of what is important and what is not in the technology world. And, because he is a trained writer, he knows how to explain it well. Of course, he'll probably end up most famous for what he doesn't know, as in his self-proclaimed mantra: "the readers know more than I do." In large part, his new book, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People, is about what happens to journalism when technology reveals the truth of Gillmor's mantra."
We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People
author Dan Gillmor
pages 299
publisher O'Reilly
rating 9
reviewer The Importance Of
ISBN 0596007337
summary The revolution in media and what it means for journalism.

The main focus of We the Media is the ongoing revolution in journalism, but it is much broader than that. It is about media and communication in general. It is a report in mid-2004 on many of the predictions that Marshall McLuhan made in the 1960s and 70s about how technology will change the way we communicate for good and ill.

It's actually somewhat difficult to write, precisely, what the book is about. Gillmor has taken a diverse range of subjects from technology, to politics, and law, from blogging to broadcast and spread spectrum, and combined them into a compelling and provocative narrative. The ideas come fast and furious, but Gillmor's writing talent keeps the reader on track. In fact, there are so many concepts discussed that there really is not enough room to summarize them all in this review.

Instead, it is probably easier to talk about who the book is for. Gillmor sets it out in his introduction: journalists, newsmakers and the people formerly known as "the audience."

Journalists

Very simply, We the Media should be required reading in journalism schools for students and professors. I'm serious. If you're a publisher, editor, or an actual breathing reporter, and you want to get up to speed on what is happening to your profession, you need to read this book.

Revolutionary shifts don't usually happen overnight, and the one in journalism that Gillmor describes didn't either. He briefly sketches a progression of changes from revolutionary era newspapers and pamphleteers to the increasing centralization of corporate media behemoths in the 20th century. However, there is a day he can point to when the latest shift became pretty obvious. That day was Sept 11, 2001. That was the day that personal media, through email lists and websites, became an important way for the story to get out.

Personally, I was at a public television conference in Wisconsin. Many of the attendees were journalists for local PBS affiliates. Connected to the net in the conference room, I was getting news through Slashdot because most of the major media websites were down, and the broadcast news was simply playing video of the attacks over and over. Soon, many of the other attendees were also checking Slashdot for links to and mirrors of the news gathered by Slashdot's readers. That may not seem like a big deal, but as Gillmor relates, similar things were taking place in many other net forums. The importance of these alternate news sites has continued (you're reading this aren't you?).

Because the whole book is about journalism, it is a bit hard to pick out more highlights, but Gillmor does begin his chapter on "Professional Journalists Joining the Conversation" with a Slashdot anecdote concerning Jane's Intelligence Review thanking the Slashdot community for pointing out the flaws in a proposed article on cyberterrorism back in 1999. Actually, much of what Gillmor is talking about is basically how journalists can be more like Jane's - working with and taking advantage of the fact that the audience knows more than the publication.

Newsmakers

If you are a politician, CEO or advisor to similar, you should probably read this book as well. In many ways, journalists are middlemen, connecting those making news with those who want to learn the news. One of the things technology is enabling is the ability of newsmakers to connect directly with their audience in many ways. Of course, as Gillmor documents, many businessmen and politicians don't really understand how to communicate through this new medium properly. Nevertheless, there are lessons that can be learned from the mistakes as well as some positive examples of those who've used new technologies successfully.

The People Formerly Known as "The Audience"

Basically, everybody who comments down below this review is participating in it. You're not simply an audience; you're co-authors of this review. What I'm writing here is only a starting point for the conversation. If you're interested in becoming a more active participant, in learning more about the role the once-passive, now-proactive audience is playing in creating, editing and filtering media, then you probably want to read this book too. We're all journalists now.

Free As in Speech (and Beer)

The book has an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Creative Commons license. The digital text isn't available on the web yet, but should be very soon. Expect a profusion of formats, audio versions, translations, and wikis to follow. One thought of mine is that classes of journalism students should be regularly given an assignment to keep the book up-to-date.

We the Media also has a weblog, which will be a good place to keep track of the book as it develops. Just because a book has been published doesn't mean it has finished changing.


You can purchase We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews. To see your own review here, carefully read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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We the Media

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Crowhead ( 577505 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:25PM (#9881306)
    If you haven't read the book? That's the problem with most blogs. Everyone's opinion is not news.
    • by joe270 ( 766253 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:40PM (#9881434)
      I think that you are right in that the most important thing about getting news (or any information) is to separate the facts from people's perceptions of things. This is an inherently difficult task because everyone communicates only what they perceive. The great thing about /. in particular is that the moderation system helps to promote opinions or comments that are factual or insightful in some way. Everyone still is responisible for filtering the opinions of others so that they can form their own more informed opinion.
      • by kaladorn ( 514293 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:12PM (#9881738) Homepage Journal

        Hmmm.

        Insightful is clearly a mass perception thing - or at least, something can be individually insightful for N people. Hence a mass can determine if something is (in the large) seen as insightful.

        On the other hand, just because a whole pile of people in a non-random sample population agree that something is factual doesn't actually make it factual or even necessarily more likely that it will be factual.

        Moderation is interesting, but meta-moderation was one of the steps (and I'm sure things will continue to evolve) to address the weaknesses in basic moderation. Obviously, moderation is no Panacea.

        One thing professional news sources can contribute is professional-grade investigative research, proper referencing and citation, along with providing identifiable reporters, employers, etc. thus allowing one a chance to ascertain whose self-interest might be being served, to assess the quality of the research and to evaluate the evidence. Bloggers rarely follow such a rigorous method.

        On the other hand, with the Internet starting to affect the pace of modern news reporting (plus competition and cost cutting and media consolidation), the net effect may be *less* research, less validation, less formal citation, more op-ed pieces disguised as news items (very common today), and less verifiability, identifiability, and accountability overall in the news industry. That's a sad state of affairs, but it seems to be the way the world is going.

        • by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:32PM (#9881920)
          "One thing professional news sources can contribute is professional-grade investigative research, proper referencing and citation, along with providing identifiable reporters, employers, etc. thus allowing one a chance to ascertain whose self-interest might be being served, to assess the quality of the research and to evaluate the evidence. Bloggers rarely follow such a rigorous method."

          Actually, professional news sources rarely seem to be rigorous. The exception is magazine articles which usually seem to have been researched and have appropriate references and citations. Newspaper articles are rarely more than either an opinion or a summary. Television is worse, in that it's usually a summary of an opinion.

          I think the difference is the longer publication time means they stop trying to compete on "faster" and instead focus on "better".
          • I concur. I also find BBC world service and CBC news international (on in the middle of the night) service seem to have a higher standard of presentation and a bit less of the generic regurgitation of news you get on your 6pm network news. (Or ad infinitum on CNN)

            Newsmagazines, investigative report magazines, and TV documentary production (some of the stuff for A&E or the History Channel or the like is better on the factual analysis front) and some websites go a long way towards trying to give the use
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:41PM (#9881454)
      Blogs are going to change the world. Example:

      OLD, TIRED MEDIA: "The Associated Press reported that Saddam Hussein was captured yesterday by American forces."

      NEW, EXCITING MEDIA: "omg like kos reported that he saw on chris's blog that john trackbacked to mike's journal where he read about bob's girlfriend's brother's cousin who was like watching Fox News (fair and balanced my ass! lol) and they said something about saddam i dunno current music: brittney cleary - im me current mood: corpulent"

      Notice the synergy of information and the ease by which information propagates throughout the blogosphere.
    • I'm curious about the implications of bloggers being considered journalists. They're getting some press passes, e.g., to the Democratic National Convention, and the better ones have some readership. However, are they then subject to the same legal issues that more traditional media have to deal with? If a blogger gets something wrong, could they be slapped with a libel suit? What about invasion of privacy for writing about people they know who are not public figures?
  • by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:26PM (#9881308) Journal
    If you are a politician, CEO or advisor to similar, you should probably read this book as well.

    Well, first they should learn to read.

  • ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:27PM (#9881320)
    Personally, I was at a public television conference in Wisconsin. Many of the attendees were journalists for local PBS affiliates. Connected to the net in the conference room, I was getting news through Slashdot because most of the major media websites were down, and the broadcast news was simply playing video of the attacks over and over.

    Go back and read through the comments in those stories. Most, if not all of the 'news' was simply people who were watching TV and typing at what they heard. Not only that, the amount of incorrect news both on Slashdot and on the major media outlets that day was understandably quite large. Slashdot just gave people who weren't there a way to talk and theorize about what was happening. TV was still the best place to get info that day. Slashdot wasn't.
    • Connected to the net in the conference room, I was getting news through Slashdot because most of the major media websites were down

      Maybe that's because hordes of people like you were constantly clicking on the links to CNN from /., causing the biggest /. effect in the history of mankind.
    • by Orne ( 144925 )
      My counter-argument then is that by tapping into the internet and community logs like Slashdot, you have gained access to a distributed television-content relay, which has the ability to convey more information at once in a shorter amount of time than one person can do alone watching news feeds.

      I can only watch one TV channel at a time, two with picture in picture. With a message board, in one refresh, I can see how the news is (1) reported and (2) received in florida, washington, new york, palistine... I
  • PDFs available (Score:5, Informative)

    by fdobbie ( 226067 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:27PM (#9881321) Homepage
    You can get PDFs of the entire book from http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wemedia/book/index. csp [oreilly.com].
    • Re:PDFs available (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:50PM (#9881534)
      #!/usr/bin/sh

      for x in 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12
      do
      wget http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wemedia/book/ch$x.p df
      done

      wget http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wemedia/book/epilog ue.pdf

      wget http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wemedia/book/endnot es.pdf

      • by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:27PM (#9881872) Homepage Journal
        wget -c `wget -q -O- http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wemedia/book/ | grep pdf | sed 's%^.* href="%%;s%".*$%%;s%^%http://www.oreilly.com%'`

        pdftotext -raw ch00.pdf - | festival --tts
      • Re:PDFs available (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 )
        and then if you use the tools that comes with xpdf you can convert it to ps or TXT format so you can easily convert it to your ebook reader's native format.

        I just converted it to a nice format for the franklin ebookman reader so I can read it on my ride home from work tonight.

        Oh yes, I'm E-V-I-L for doing this. I should be killed by the writers guild and displayed as an example to others...

        bah, to hell with them for not offering a version I can use in my hardware.
      • Why not just
        wget -r -Apdf -nd -np http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wemedia/book/index. csp
        Oh, and
        rm robots.txt
    • Would it be legal for a person to submit the text to a print-on-demand publisher like CafePress [cafepress.com] and sell copies at cost ($0 profit)? Or would that not work, because CafePress is still making a buck on the deal? And how would that be any different than taking it down to Kinko's and telling them to print out a copy. The book is licensed under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 which states in section 4c that...

      You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner

      • It strikes me that they don't want people making a profit from selling the book. If you priced it at $15.97 + S&H, the CafePress rate for a 299 page book in the "perfect bound" format (which is the one you'd want to use) then you'd be fine. CafePress would be making a profit, just as your ISP makes a profit for your download server, the CD pressing company makes a profit for the distro CDs you press, etc. Now, if CafePress decided to sell them on their own behalf, they'd probably have to offer them a
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:28PM (#9881336)
    The digital text isn't available on the web yet

    Yes it is, here: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wemedia/book/ [oreilly.com]

  • by scowling ( 215030 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:30PM (#9881355) Homepage
    The medium isn't the message, per se. The message is the message. It doesn't really matter with what edium a message is transmitted; information is information.

    This was reinforced recently by the blogsters at the Democratic Convention. Few said anything of consequence. That what they transmitted was using new media didn't matter. Crap is crap.

    And as such, I don't think I can agree with Gilmour; while September 11 showed that personal media could be an important infotransmission tool, July 2004 showed that it's overrated, and that we still need professionals.
    • Crap is crap (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fleener ( 140714 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:41PM (#9881452)
      I agree, crap is crap. Professional news media will always have a place because they employ trained writers. I'll read a blog for fun, or because I know the blogger personally, or because I have an intense interest in a specific blog topic. But if I'm reading hard news or human interest pieces, I am *not* going to entertain an unfocused run-on stream of thought -- which is what many bloggers write.

      More importantly, with a professional news organization, I know who I am dealing with. Too many online entries -- from blog postings to product reviews -- are not authenticated. I know who the editor is of my local newspaper and I know the corporation and politics of the company who owns the newspaper. I'll take that over Joe Schmoe because I don't know which axe he's grinding.

      • Re:Crap is crap (Score:3, Interesting)

        by oneishy ( 669590 )

        Good point about reading a specific blog topic. There are a few people of whoom I read their articles (read:blog) regularly, but in general I could care less about blogs.

        I have made it a goal in my blog [jehiah.com] to actually write about relevant, or new information, code tips, projects, etc.... and not just random thoughts

        A few good guides for having a focused blog are : Paul Graham [paulgraham.com], Engadget [engadget.com] and Brandon Purcell [bpurcell.org]. Ok Pual's site is not really a blog, but a collection of articles.. but whats the diff? Those are the

      • Is professional training all it takes to get your respect?

        I find that most professional news organizations (in my country, the USA) are trying to do whatever they can to push their agendas while also insinuating that they are impartial. It's downright duplicitous, and whats worse is that there are people who believe that their facts are totally true.

        Most of the time you don't see this kind of thing in blogs, and I think the fact that the writers aren't professional journalists, and therefore aren't trained in the subtle art of fact-misdirection is one reason why. But you're right about the unverified stuff. There's no telling what you're getting with a blog.

        I'd trust the average blog about as much as the average professional news agency, but for different reasons. In either case, a particular instance would have to earn my respect before I'd believe them above other sources.
        • No, professional training isn't what's required to get my respect. Respect doesn't even enter into the equation.

          I require trust. I need to know who is speaking to me, and what their influences are. I trust the reporting of the local newspaper, and understand when to question the slant on a news report. Professional training helps because then the act of reading the reporting is easy and painless. Most blogs are not easy to read, unless you like reaching "the point" at the bottom of 5 pages of text (hence

        • Not to sound too cynical or conspiracy minded, but why are either of you trusting one type of media or another. No matter how unbiased any media source claims to be, it will always be expressing a view point. This is particularly true of large corporate media, but even with virtually any type of media outlet. So why should you trust them? I watch/listen to/read the news, but I don't necessarily believe everything I read, especially when dealing with anything of substance. Unless I can independently verify s
          • To jump on a probably already dead horse, I tend to trust smaller media organisations because:

            Larger media groups usually have to dance through hoops to prove to regulatory boards that their invidiual parts are independant, and unbiased.

            I have yet to see a smaller piece of a large media group reporting their owner was part of a large scandal before everyone else.

            On one hand, they have connexions, and knowledge of inner workings, so they should have the news before anyone else. On the other hand, they ha
          • Did you even read what I wrote? I don't trust either. I gave good reasons not to trust either.

            You gotta find people to trust, though, at least on some facts. There's just too much world out there to independently verify all the facts yourself, and if you've got nothing to go on you can't do very much.
    • by SandSpider ( 60727 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:02PM (#9881644) Homepage Journal
      This was reinforced recently by the blogsters at the Democratic Convention. Few said anything of consequence. That what they transmitted was using new media didn't matter. Crap is crap.

      Okay, so what did the professionals say that was of consequence? Was there any consequential news that came out of the DNC? Were there earth-shattering announcements that were overlooked by the bloggers that people with a professional mindset managed to convey?

      If so, then there is some support for your position, though the fact that it's posted to slashdot gives it a Moderation of Ironic +/- 1. I do agree that the medium is less important than the message, but your arguments about the DNC don't support that proposition. At least, not without additional supporting details.

      And as such, I don't think I can agree with Gilmour; while September 11 showed that personal media could be an important infotransmission tool, July 2004 showed that it's overrated, and that we still need professionals.

      I didn't get the sense from the review that he was saying there will be no more need for Professional journalists. Rather, I was getting the sense that Big Media can no longer make proclamations from the top of the mountain and just let them flow through uncontested. Instead, it's an increasingly 2-way communication, and the smarter professionals will pay attention.

      =Brian
    • "The Charge Of The Blog Brigade"
      (with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

      Theirs not to wonder why
      Theirs but to blog and die
      Into the valley of hype rode the six hundred.

      Boredom to the right of them,
      Boredom to the left of them,
      Boredom in the front of them,
      Into the valley of hype rode the six hundred (bloggers).

      Back to actual commentary: Of course the bloggers at the convention said nothing of consequence. Nothing of consequence happened at the convention. It never does. Nothing will happen at the Re
    • by zors ( 665805 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:12PM (#9881739)
      You're both right, really. take for example the presidential debate (i think it was nixon and kennedy, not completely sure) which was the first to be broadcasted both on TV and Radio. Radio listeners thought nixon won, tv watchers thought kennedy did. So while the medium isnt the message per se, it can affect perception of the message, which is nearly the same.
      • --you are correct. I watched it on the TV. Nixon had refused makeup and looked grayed out, that was part of why he apparently "lost" the debate. The other part was just that JFK was a very eloquent speaker compared to him (IMO).
    • Gee, you just out-argued a brilliant argument with a bunch of half thought out crap.

      Not.

      Read McLuhan a little more honestly next time, if you even bothered.
    • This was reinforced recently by the blogsters at the Democratic Convention. Few said anything of consequence. That what they transmitted was using new media didn't matter. Crap is crap.

      McLuhan would, of course, say that it was crap precicely because it was transmitted using the blog medium: no sound, no video, probably no photos, either; only amateurish reporting in text only (note that i haven't read any of those bloggers, so i have no idea what i'm talking about). And that it was because those bloggers

    • McLuhan was discussing the communication process. He's not really talking about the message, he's talking about people. It's exaggerated for sensationalism to elict a response. The way you dispute the statement is a perfect example of what he was talking about.

      There is no such thing as an abstract message. There can be no message without a medium. It doesn't matter what I say or type, what is actually communicated is what you perceive. And your perception is based on the medium used to transmit the message
    • You know what? You're a fucking jackass.

      Boy, aren't you smart! You said "McLuhan" and even better, you said "per se." What a fuckin genius you are, twit boy. I'm completely fucking sick of fucking self important twit assed nerds. You know what? You are all insipid, hopeless pieces of shit and your disgusting, hopelessly vapid blogging habits prove it for all to see. Everyone always knew you geeks were boring ass twits and now your google-fucking(TM) MT blogs prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

      "O

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:33PM (#9881372)
    I studied Journalism in college, and I don't recall a single instance where we were taught to consider an audience with more education and experience than the reporter. Matter of fact, everything seemed to boil down to taking a complicated story and making it understandable by the average reader. It wasn't purposely arrogant, but you can imagine how the result would parallel condescension.

    That methodology worked better when I studied (in the 80's), but today's plastic surgery-riddled TV boneheads don't have a clue.
    • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:38PM (#9881992) Homepage
      ...and the "plastic surgery-riddled TV boneheads" probably don't write a single scrap of news, either.

      I'm currently a professional technology writer/editor and my mandate is still to boil down and synthesize complex topics and make them readable, understandable, and as engaging to readers as possible. I don't see how anybody could find fault in that.

      What sense does it make to consider an audience with more education and experience than the reporter? Why on earth would those people read the article?

      Fans of the Web and the Internet at large love to repeat over and over how it's going to revolutionize everything. Maybe it is -- but for some reason, that always seems to boil down to knocking somebody off some perceived pedestal. "Oh that guy doesn't know anything, he made this mistake here and I bet twenty other people on the Internet can point out others." Great. But the Internet isn't revolutionizing anything here. There have always been people who say things like that, and there's even a name for them: armchair critics. Their presence does not take away the need for well-informed, insightful, accurate, and well-written journalism.

      Journalism as a "conversation" or a "seminar" sounds really nice and new-agey. If that always worked, I guess it would be pretty great. As a counter-example, I could give Slashdot. If a cacophony of voices is all you really need to get your information, why is everyone always yelling "RTFA"?
      • What sense does it make to consider an audience with more education and experience than the reporter? Why on earth would those people read the article?

        Haven't read (much of) the book, yet, but I took this as the collective audience knows more than the reporte -- which is almost certainly true for any given topic -- not each and every individual reader. E.g., if you're a local reporter writing about a park proposal, many people in your audience are going to know more about various aspects of the proposa

      • I think you are minimalizing the influence of "others", the non professionals, on internet publishing in general. and it's also a numbers game, writing and being published in a manner is now open to all, it is no longer limited to the professional "elite", and these same are still coming to grips with that reality. No matter how well educated and technical one is, there could very well be several people better who might read and comment on your writing and conclusions.

        As to "news", no matter how much the
      • What sense does it make to consider an audience with more education and experience than the reporter? Why on earth would those people read the article?

        Perhaps they read it to find out what's "new". That's generally what the news is supposed to talk about right? If I happen to know a lot more about a particular subject than someone else, but I've just been out of touch for the past few [hours|days|weeks] then I may not have heard something that others have.
        Disseminating the contextual relationship this new
    • by idiotnot ( 302133 ) <sean@757.org> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @04:35PM (#9882480) Homepage Journal
      But see, put on your analytical cap for a second, and consider the author. He writes about technical issues, but he's not one who develops in the field. In fact, I'd venture to say that his audience is quite narrow, being mainly restricted to the people who have an interest in the technology field.

      Ever read an agribusiness periodical? I often don't have a clue what they're talking about. Am I a proficient enough reporter to be able to grasp the issues after research, and write a story? You bet. But the farmer in the field, and the guy in the seed store would still know more than I do, and if I make a mistake, they'd nail me on it quickly.

      Your training, as most "journalism" (a term I despise, actually) programs do, focused on the mass-media side of things. The arrogance that exists, and you now see stems from the idea that the media is a) omniscent, and b) totally objective. Neither is true. Once you jettison those two dated notions, you can get down to real quality reporting. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you can't paint the full picture of a story with the information you have available. "Journalists" seem awfully reluctant to do that. So they reach and draw conclusions that can't be supported (gotta answer the "why" question, even if you don't know). If you do that too often, and your readers have a clue, you won't have a job very long.
  • by grunt107 ( 739510 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:41PM (#9881458)
    As long as opinion is not the dominating factor of the news item.

    All of the big media conglomerates seem to have an agenda to obtain/maintain viewership.

    Some go for a demographic (ie. - conservative or liberal). Some go for the sensational (Horrible tragedy narrowly averted by patriotic quadriplegic albinos).

    For those willing to sift through the personal biases, having a large source of new items is good to discern the actual facts more easily.

    Like the story a ways back on the eBay scammer who was also discovered to be fraudulently claiming death benefits (donations).
  • Oh yeah, you mean the fact that the media and Hollywood and virtually all forms of mainstream communication are all very liberal biased? Oh, no? Then maybe I'll RTFA.
  • We need less bias (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brandybuck ( 704397 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:42PM (#9882020) Homepage Journal
    The problem with the media is too much bias. The "news-as-entertainment" problem still ranks high on my list, but it's the outright political bias that drives me nuts the most.

    I am not a conservative, nor am I a Republican. But I can still see the bias in the media. The mainstream news in particular has a distinct Democrat/liberal bent. This is hard to see if you're a Democrat/liberal, and you'll probably vehemently deny it exists, but if you're not a liberal or Democrat, you can plainly see it.

    Heck, even a lot of liberal Greens can see it, just because the blackout of any news on Nader and the Green Party. That party decided the 2000 election, but the media acts as if it were irrelevant to the 2004 campaign coverage.

    When I mean bias, I don't mean obvious blatant bias that any numbskull can see. I mean a subtle bias in the stories presented, adjectives used, body language by anchors, etc. But sometimes that bias is obvious, as when the media was having orgasms over the Clark candidacy last year. That last what, all of two weeks?

    Here's a subtle bias as an example. Mrs. Kerry is a millionaire. Mr. Cheney is a millionaire. Both once had strong corporate ties, but no longer do. Yet which one will the media portray as having a corporate war chest? Which one is more often mentioned being a millionaire? Which one is more often mentioned as having corporate ties?

    I am not claiming that this bias is intentional. But with 90% (IIRC) of news reporters registered Democrat, they've constructed themselves a world isolated from the real one. While the owners of the media tend to be Republican, those that actually report the news are not. If you ran across a news outlet that consisted of 90% Republican (or Libertarian or Green) reporters, you would expect those skewed numbers to produce a strong bias. So why don't you expect the same when the news outlets are all 90% Democrat?
    • While the owners of the media tend to be Republican, those that actually report the news are not.

      If I wanted to really bias the news, I'd put myself in a position where I could influence which stories get covered. Influencing how those stories get presented is pretty obviously second best. Of course, once in the position of deciding which stories get covered, I could make sure there's some attention paid to how biased the presentation is, so few people will notice how biased the selection of stories i

    • The first step is admitting you have a problem. If you ask "journalists" whether they have biases, they'll reflexively deny it. Then ask if they've got opinions, oh, you bet!

      There is always a speaker's bias. The key is to recognize that and guard against it. Now they don't even recognize that one exists, believing it was trained-out in college. Sort of like being housebroken.

      I'm biased. You're biased. Dan Rather is biased. If someone listens to the three of us report the same story, he can probabl
    • The elite media and the top government officials and the corporations DECIDE for us what is on the table for the political debate, and what is NOT on the table. They decide what the definitions of "Liberal" and "conservative" are. Not surprisingly, CorpGovMedia have decided that the Left vs Right, conservative vs democratic debate is going to be on social issues. Most of the economic issues are either off the table, or are limited in scope.

      THe social issues are gays, guns, abortion, religion, etc. The
      • I'm pissed that the media isn't reporting objectively. Of course, if they did report objectively, they wouldn't be parroting the Chomsky line. I want objectivity, not just another opinion. For example, to report flat or sales taxes as "regressive" would be anything but objective.

        I am not saying your biases are invalid, just that I don't want them, or any other biases, in my news coverage. For example, when the WTO meets, the reporting should be more than a mere "the WTO met today, now on to sports". But ne
    • I think that you make a very good point. The media is only Socially liberal, Economically conservative. But you could also say that about most of the Democratic party.

      But NONE OF US ARE UNBIASED (incl you and me).
      Whether you are left wing or right wing to me depends on where I'm standing.

      That's why I take a look at the arab news web sites every now and then. They are of course "shockingly" biased from our point of view, but at least you get a glimpse of what other people are thinking.

      I would argue that
  • by pyrotic ( 169450 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @04:11PM (#9882286) Homepage
    IAAJ. I do features. I speak some Arabic, and another European language, get on well with most kinds of people, have an ability to live with uncertainty, and am getting used to judging when a situation becomes hairy. I've won a couple of awards in the US.

    How has blogging changed my life? Not one iota. Most information I still get face to face, or on the phone. Many of my sources are computer illiterate. If you want to know where the bodies are buried, go there. You never forget the smell. The one good thing I can say about the technical revolution is that I can post stories unedited on my own website, taking up as much space as I like.
  • Scools? (Score:4, Funny)

    by toddhisattva ( 127032 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @04:59PM (#9882684) Homepage
    Very simply, We the Media should be required reading in journalism schools for students and professors.

    Journalists go to schools?

    Imagine the courses!

    JRN 100 The Five W's: George W. Bush Stinks, George W. Bush has Cooties, George W. Bush is Mean, George W. Bush is Dumb, and George W. Bush is a Blue Meanie Dumb Cootie.

    JRN 200 Casting Aspersions: Learn which adjectives to use when describing the idiotic George W. Bush and the brave genius patriots who correctly despise him.

    JRN 250 Rumors - Gateways to Truth: A newspaper is nothing without rumors. Learn to tell whoppers and fool people for fun and profit.

    JRN 300 Context is Your Enemy: Students will understand which facts to leave out of stories and how to present events out of order. This is a writing-intensive course.

    JRN 350 The Dreaded Tech Beat: Learn to cope with things you do not understand at all by making your writing buzzword-compliant.

    JRN 400 Sports - Journalism's Crowning Achievement: Hype and fluff are the indespensible tools of the Sports Reporter. Students will learn to use a thesaurus to seem intelligent when discussing trivia about games.

    JRN 450 Science Sucks Ass (course prerequisite JRN 350): In this advanced course students will learn to misquote scientists, construct non sequitur arguments, miss the point, and bring their own prejudices to their stories.

    JRN 500 (Capstone) Bias: Students will wear shoes with different thickness soles to learn about slanting. Course ends with field trip to cattle ranch to watch real B.S. being made.


  • Since when are writers "trained"? Don't you mean "talented" or "intelligent"? You can't train someone to be a good writer, anymore than you can train someone to be a good artist.
    • Re:Trained? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Writing is a skill, and like any skill can be learned. If one learns the skill well enough and uses that skill, one may be said to practice good writing.

      However, just because one has undergone training in the skill of writing does not make one a good writer. Use of any skill usually takes practice, and masters of a skill usually have practiced carefully and conscientiously to reach that level of mastery. Of course, there are exceptions: those who are able to write well without much practice and those who w

      • Writing is an art, and like any art, it cannot be learned. You can bring a talent to maturity, but you cannot be trained to have talent.
  • Audio available (Score:2, Informative)

    by LoneGun04 ( 733388 )
    I have started to read the book aloud. If you are interested in listening and/or participating please see my weblog entry [niallkennedy.com].
  • Niall Kennedy [niallkennedy.com] has started a project to convert to book into an audio book like AKMA did with Lessig's Free Culture [disseminary.org]. Unfortunately, AKM Adam [seabury.edu] is a Ph.D., Rev., and author. Niall Kennedy is a junior at UC Davis. AKMA was about to get some high profile people from the blogsphere to record chapters including Dave Winer and Doug Kaye. Niall Kennedy has to date, only recorded the intro himself. Who knows, maybe Niall's project will grow legs and evolve into something like free-culture.org [free-culture.org].

  • I used to read the San Jose Murky News and Dan Gillmor's column.

    On any business issue, he generally comes down on the side of some idealist vision of 'fairness', and supports a gov-force solution to the problem.

    In short, Gilmor is generally a socialist in his outlook.

    His tech insights aren't much better, IMHO.

    Lew
  • here [oreilly.com]

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